When Nick Saban retired just 7 days ago, there was a flurry of activity as athletic director Greg Byrne tried to fill the role of head coach at the University of Alabama before the entire roster dissolved. And he did just that, hiring the hottest up-and-coming coach in college football in Kalen DeBoer in only 49 hours.
The Tide lost a few players to the newly opened transfer portal, including starting WR Isaiah Bond - though Bond had already been rumored to be on the verge of leaving for more money even before Saban retired though.
The rest have mostly been depth pieces, while team leaders Malachi Moore, Jalen Milroe, and Tyler Booker have all expressed public support of the new coach and a desire to keep the team together.
The real gut came today, though. On Wednesday, 1/17, Freshman All-American safety Caleb Downs entered the transfer portal.
Downs is, arguably, the best player on Alabama’s team, and pretty much inarguably the guy with the brightest future after a spectacular freshman campaign. For whatever reason, be it money or a desire to follow former DB Travarius Robinson, Downs is rumored to likely be headed to Georgia. With the NFL draft departures of Kool-Aid McKinstry, Terrion Arnold, and Jaylen Key, plus now the transfers of Trey Amos and Caleb Downs, Alabama has lost it’s entire secondary outside of senior Malachi Moore. Props the ‘Chi for staying true.
While Coach DeBoer will likely bolster the group with more DBs in the next portal window, Alabama (and Washington) is currently the guinea pig for the first team under the current transfer portal rules to open the 30-day post-coaching-change portal window without a chance to also pick up players from other teams from the portal.
Later in the day, another Freshman All-American, left tackle Kadyn Proctor, also entered the transfer portal.
BREAKING: Alabama OT Kadyn Proctor plans to enter the Transfer Portal, he tells @on3sports— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) January 17, 2024
The 6’8 365 OT started every game for Alabama as a True Freshman
Received Freshman All-American & 1st Team Freshman All-SEC Honors
Was ranked as the No. 1 OT in the ‘23 Class… pic.twitter.com/9TqMgb5lAM
The former 5-star had a rocky debut season with the Tide. He gave up a team-high sacks in the highest sack total year of Nick Saban’s tenure, but he did, at times, flash the 5-star potential.
This move may be more of a square peg in a round hole type of move, and Coach DeBoer’s offensive line a Washington was a much lighter and agile goup than Proctor’s 360 pound frame, and again, there was a lot more potential than actual results in Proctor’s first year. The optics, though, are that Alabama lost another 5-star player and starter, so the entire college football world is piling on in their revelry. For now. At least until the next transfer portal window opens in April and Alabama has 5+ open scholarship spots to poach from other schools to come play for one of the most exciting offensive coaching staffs in the country.