I did our spring preview of the terrifyingly good outside linebacker group back in March, and since absolutely nothing has changed in the rotation, much of the text below is copied straight from that piece.
Nick Saban has had some outstanding position groups through the years, led by the Rydeouts group of four first round wide receivers. This group of outside linebackers, however, may well take the cake as the best room of the Saban era. Alabama returns both starters at the position, both of whom are likely to be drafted very high in the first round when each is eligible, one of whom just won the Nagurski award as the best defensive player in the nation. The present is amazing and after an insane haul in the 2022 class, the future is bright as well.
Good luck, quarterbacks. You are going to need it.
#31 Will Anderson, junior
Little more can be written about Anderson at this point. The only thing that keeps him from being a unanimous #1 overall pick next April is the NFL’s affinity for picking QBs in that spot, which may lead to teammate and Heisman winner Bryce Young claiming it. Anderson was very likely the best player in the nation this season and will be billed as such coming into this one. Already a relentless pass rusher, Anderson proved himself to be a complete player last season by setting the edge with aplomb and shutting down the run to his side while also leading the nation with 17.5 sacks. Every team that plays Alabama will focus first on scheming around #31.
The Next Superstar
#15 Dallas Turner, sophomore
While Anderson will understandably get all of the press this preseason, Turner actually had a higher sack rate on the season, producing 8.5 in 370 snaps which would project to 20 in the number of snaps played by Anderson in 2021. Yes, Turner is that good. He certainly isn’t as polished as Anderson just yet, but it was evident why he was rated as the best edge player in his class and a top ten overall prospect. It will be fun watching this pair wreck backfields this season.
#41 Chris Braswell, redshirt sophomore
Braswell was a top 20 overall prospect in the 2020 class but thus far hasn’t managed to log many minutes on the field. He should be the top reserve this season however, at least early on. The 6’3”, 240 lb. junior has all the tools. It will be interesting to see if he can put them into action. By all accounts, Braswell has turned a corner and is pushing hard for playing time. Saban has mentioned putting him in the game with Anderson and Turner, ostensibly to rush off the edge and let Anderson stand in the A gap. Imagine being an opposing QB and seeing that on third and long.
#34 Quandarrius Robinson, redshirt sophomore
Robinson is an intriguing prospect to say the least. Standing 6’5”, he has drawn some comparisons to Tide standout Terrell Lewis. He carries the reputation of an explosive athlete in addition to his impressive length. Look for Robinson to find himself a key reserve role this season.
#19 Keanu Koht, redshirt freshman
The 6’4” Koht was a workout warrior over the winter, adding an impressive 11 pounds to now weigh in at 231. He is a talented prospect who Alabama was delighted to flip from LSU in the 2021 cycle, but he may need another year of development before getting much of an opportunity on the field.
Jeremiah Alexander, freshman
Folks, this kid looks special. A year after bringing in Turner, Saban once again manages to land the top pass rusher in the class. Alexander played at Thompson High in Alabaster, AL and, as Saban said about Tim Williams in the 2016 spring game, he completely messed up the games. Already built at a solid 6’2” and 258 lbs., the only thing that will keep him off the field this season is the ridiculous talent in front of him. Still, a kid with this kind of potential and motor is going to draw the attention of the staff and it will be a shock if he doesn’t see plenty of mop up duty if nothing else.
Jihaad Campbell, freshman
Did we mention that Saban also signed the #2 rated edge player in the 2022 class? No? Well, he did. Campbell has added ten pounds since arriving in Tuscaloosa and now weighs in at 225 lbs. He, too flashed plenty of explosiveness and played some of the best competition in the nation at IMG Academy. He may not make much noise this season, but will be heard from in the future.