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Alabama 2022 Spring Football Preview: The Defensive Line looks for difference makers

A steady group needs to find leadership and develop some quality depth.

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If there is one questionable position group on the 2022 defense, the line has to be it. Alabama always has talent on the roster, but nobody who returns has really stood out as a difference maker. With all three starting jobs seemingly wide open, hopefully competition will produce a few.

The Departed

The Tide lost a key piece in Phidarian Mathis, who is off to the NFL after a breakout 9 sack senior season. LaBryan Ray moved on as well and will take his shot at the draft, though he was injured so frequently it may be tough to notice.

Likely Starters

Alabama only starts three defensive linemen, but four names are here because all are on about the same plane. The theme here is simple: we need someone to step up. More than one would be even better.

#94 DJ Dale, senior

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The 6’3, 309 lb. Dale should be the first option on the nose. He has had a prominent role since arriving on campus and has started a lot of games. He will now hope to take the next step and become a real factor as Mathis did last season.

#47 Byron Young, senior

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Young has flashed potential, but in what will be a common theme with this group, he hasn’t been able to nail down a consistent starting role. Like Dale, he will be looking to take that next step.

#92 Justin Eboigbe, senior

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See comments on Young above. Eboigbe is a bit longer and leaner with an extra two inches of height and matching 292 lb. weight, and has flashed potential.

#50 Tim Smith, junior

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Smith’s career trajectory reminds of Christian Barmore. There was camp buzz around him from day one and we have seen some explosive play at times, but he has also had some trouble with staying onside If he can stay focused and find consistency, the sky is the limit for him.

Returning Depth

#44 Damon Payne Jr., redshirt freshman

#52 Braylen Ingraham, redshirt junior

#90 Stephon Wynn Jr., redshirt senior

#93 Jah-Marien Latham, redshirt sophomore

#95 Monkell Goodwine, redshirt freshman

#96 Tim Keenan III, redshirt freshman

#98 Jamil Burroughs, junior

These are listed in numeric order because, to be frank, your guess is as good as mine on this group. Most have played sparingly in reserve. Payne is a guy who came in with plenty of hype and probably has the best shot at a significant role, but there will undoubtedly be some needed attrition here. It’s quite possible that one or more from this group light it up in camp and crack the starting rotation. We just have very little to go on with any of them.

The Newcomers

Jaheim Oatis, freshman

Oatis is a massive human being, weighing in at 6’5” and 370 lbs. Needless to say, he is your classic two gap space eater in the middle of the line. This will likely make him more of an early down player similar to Georgia’s Jordan Davis rather than an every down player like Mathis, but there is still room in the modern game for a big nose tackle.

Khurtiss Perry, freshman

Perry is yet another top 100 player to sign with the Tide. At 6’2”, 264 lbs. he will likely need a year in the weight room before he’s ready to see significant action. He is a versatile athlete though and played as a standing pass rusher at times in high school. Of course, the outside linebacker rotation is probably tougher to crack than this one. Khurtiss has a bright future but he will likely take a redshirt in 2022.