The 2021 season is now behind us, and Alabama has been quite busy restocking their roster for 2022 with a plethora of elite talent set to continue dominating college football for the next 4 years. With National Signing Day behind us and spring football around the corner, let’s take a look at all the new players to join the Tide.
In years past, I’ve centered a lot of this article series around SPARQ data and athletic testing, but it started falling out of favor in 2019 and was totally killed off by Covid in 2020, and that’s continued for this class as well. So we’re back to the old-school evaluation method of just watching tape.
All of my rankings referenced will be from the 247Composite, as will the player sizes.
In any case, after taking 5 offensive linemen in the 2021 class, Nick Saban shifted away from that group a little bit, taking only three new players, though two are top-50 borderline 5-star tackles. Let’s take a look:
Yet another product from IMG Academy, Booker continues a tradition of top offensive linemen from that school coming to Alabama (Evan Neal, J.C. Latham). He was originally a defensive tackle for the first chunk of his career before moving to offense in his final two seasons at IMG. He’s drawn a lot of praise and reviews for his mentality and leadership from the coaches there.
He’s listed as an offensive tackle by 247, but is a guard for ESPN and Rivals, with ESPN giving him a 5-star ranking as the 2nd best guard in the country. At 6’5” 325, he’s easily at the size where he could play either spot.
Booker is an early enrollee, and will be practicing with the team this spring.
Booker displays a natural balance and bendiness when engaged in blocks, and he does great job of keeping his feet active and underneath his center of gravity even as he twists around with his upper body. He’s a guy that never really ends up on the ground unless it’s with a defender underneath him.
This, combined with his massive frame, makes him a monster at finishing blocks once he’s engaged and making a major difference in short yardage.
Despite only playing OL for a couple of seasons now, he also shows great awareness for picking up stunts and delayed blitzes.
As far as areas he needs to work on, he tends to lock on and grab, rather than “punching” into the chest of the defensive lineman. The hand placement is learned skill and will require some coaching, but he’ll be a regular risk for holding calls. Speed on his backpedal could also be an issue at the college level.
Booker is perfect for the swing RT/G combo that Nick Saban has so often preferred over the years. He can be equally successful in a power or zone blocking scheme, no matter who winds up being Alabama’s offensive coaches there.
I fully expect Booker to at least be in the competition to replace Chris Owens at right tackle, and we’ll probably hear some rumblings about him this spring. I don’t really expect him to come in and win the job as a true freshman, but I do think he’ll make 2nd string and be a swing backup player for guard and tackle.
Shor is an interesting recruiting case. He earned an offer in camp from Alabama following a tremendous sophomore year, and he transferred to IMG Academy to further his football career. Unfortunately, a preseason injury ended his season before it started, and he wound up transferring back home for his senior season... Only to wind up not being eligible to play due to transfer rules.
He’s got ideal size and length for an NFL offensive tackle and has apparently been a standout in every camp he’s been in... But that all comes with the caveat of not having played in a football season since his sophomore year.
Shor has already enrolled at Alabama.
It’s easy to see why so many college football teams offered this guy a scholarship when he showed up in their camps. He’s got a unique blend of long arms, long legs, quick feet, and strength that could see him developing into a 1st round NFL tackle. He’s a natural pass blocker on edge at left tackle and is comfortable backpedaling with speed rushers, but is also generally patient enough to catch an interior counter move.
In the run game, he fires off the line faster than all of his teammates, and uses his go-go-gadget arms to knock defenders back and out of the way. Despite his height, he can usually manage to get low and use his quick and active feet to drive his defender in short yardage.
I’ve hear some folks think that Shor may be a center, but I think he’s too long and not stout enough to hold up in the interior. Shor is a tackle, and one that has potential to be the kind of left tackle that you can leave out on an island. I expect he’ll primarily be a left tackle for Nick Saban.
Man, Shor is honestly one of the most fascinating prospects Alabama has pulled in the last few years. His low ranking is absolutely deserved, as he hasn’t played in two years, and the teams he played against as a sophomore wasn’t exactly top competition. On the other hand, humans don’t often come in that size... And very few of those that do are polished pass blockers at 15 years old.
I imagine there’s going to be a big shock to Shor as he adjusts to college speed, and we probably don’t see him in year one or two. If he sticks it out, though, I think he could become a late bloomer with a meteoric rise as an elite pass-blocking left tackle.
A 5-star prospect by 247’s rankings, Pritchett made waves as a senior as he added 20 pounds to his frame to become the prototypical tackle at 6’6” 305 with extremely long arms. He’s spent multiple years playing left tackle in a talent-rich region around Columbus, GA.
Of the three, Pritchett is the one that’s not enrolling until summer, so he’ll be a step behind his other two classmates come 2022.
Pritchett is imposing, explosive, violent, and just plain mean on the football field. He’s a hulking figure at left tackle, and he thrives on making it a point to see just how far he can throw his defender through the air on any given play. And will then let said defender know about it.
Pritchett is a powerful run blocker that explodes off the snap with every intention of blowing up a hole in the defense directly in front of him, and there’s not much any high school level defenders could do about it. If you get him lead blocking as a pulling guy, the poor linebacker or defensive back will wind up with visible whiplash, even on 480p shaky recordings from someone in the stands.
Pritchett is built like a tackle, but almost plays more like an interior guy. I do worry about his long term ability as a pass blocker against speed rushers, but I think that, overall, he’s the kind of player that will be able to play any spot on the line. Put him wherever he fills a need, and let him intimidate the opposing defense into submission.
It’s tough for a freshman to crack the depth chart at offensive line, especially if he’s not an early enrollee. I think it takes Pritchett a couple of years, but he winds up being a multi-year starter at different positions and winds up being a senior leader and tone-setter type of player by the end of his career.