Alabama seems to reload every single season. It is what has made The Crimson Tide’s dynasty last so long. Every year, the team loses many players to the draft and, every year, the team adds more players that can contribute. Here, we will take a look at what positions Alabama will need to add depth to and what commits the team could go after in order to fill these positions.
Positions needed for Alabama
Losing: Dalvin Tomlinson, Jonathan Allen, Dakota Ball
Defensive line depth has been intriguing this entire season. Dalvin Tomlinson and Jonathan Allen have played the majority of the snaps for Alabama so far with Da’Shawn Hand filling in every so often for The Crimson Tide. Both Tomlinson and Allen will be graduating this season, and will be leaving big shoes to fill as Alabama will need to two men on the outside to replace both of them. Hand will likely get the nod to play in Tomlinson’s position, as he has been really the only guy who has been taking snaps at that position when Tomlinson comes out. As far as who will play in Allen’s position, that remains a mystery.
Currently, Alabama has exactly zero commits at neither the strong side defensive end, and the weak side defensive end. So, they are not exactly adding depth so far. Alabama is definitely in the running for some fairly sought after recruits when it comes to those positions.
Four-star LaBryan Ray (Madison, Ala.) is one player that many believe is a lock for The Crimson Tide. He is the no. 3 strong side defensive end in his class, and the no. 1 player in the state of Alabama. He has been a force for James Clemons so far, and could be a playmaker at Alabama. At 6-4, 255 pounds, he would need to add a bit of weight to contribute, but would be a big get nonetheless.
Four-star Jarez Parks (Sebastian, Fl.) might be a stretch, but currently Alabama is right in the running behind Florida. He is also not exactly the size of a Jonathan Allen or Dalvin Tomlinson, but then again, not a lot of people are.
Adding either of these players would be huge for Alabama’s defensive line as not a lot of players have shown so far that they will be future stars outside of Hand or maybe Terrell Hall in a pass-rushing role.
Commits: Akail Byers (four-star)
Da’Ron Payne has been a force on the interior ever since he put on a uniform for Alabama. Even as a freshman, he commanded double teams due to his size and strength. Now in his sophomore season, he has been much of the same, if not better. Behind him is Josh Frazier, who has come in on certain drives to spell Payne, but has yet to make much of an impact. Another player to watch for his Raekwon Davis. He is 6-7 and 315 pounds. Last week, he made really his first big play in garbage time, blowing up an interior lineman from Mississippi State and causing a sack.
Frazier and Davis have both nabbed playing time, but it really has been all Payne the entire season. The rotation on the interior has scarce so far, and Alabama has not really seen either of the guys behind Payne show that they can contribute the way Payne did when A’shawn Robinson was in front of him.
Alabama is currently in the running for top-five recruit Marvin Wilson (Bellaire, Tx.), but it is unlikely that the team will land him. Four-star Tyler Shelvin (Lafeyette, LA.) is a hard-commit to LSU currently, but Ed Orgeron did most of the work in landing him, so, if Orgeron ends up not getting the LSU job, Shelvin could look elsewhere. Four-star Aubrey Solomon (Leeburg, Ga.) is another guy to watch out for. Derrick Ansley has been the primary recruiter for him, and he could leave his home state. He stands at 6-3, 305 pounds and would add a lot of size on the interior.
Losing: Eddie Jackson (graduating)
Ever since Eddie Jackson went down, we have seen Minkah Fitzpatrick excel in his role as a safety. Moving forward into next season, it remains to be seen whether Fitzpatrick will continue to play in that role, or if he will move back to a corner position. Assuming Marlon Humphrey leaves early for the NFL Draft, you could see Fitzpatrick go back to playing the star or the wide corner with Tony Brown and Anthony Averett also in the mix. This leaves a gap in the position that Jackson once filled. Now, Alabama already has a couple of safeties that are fairly similar in play style. Ronnie Harrison and Hootie Jones are bigger bodies that can play up near the line of scrimmage and help with both run defense and coverage on slot receivers or tight-ends. The only guy on the roster right now that could possibly fill Jackson’s role is Dieonte Thompson, but has not really logged any seriously playing time thus far except on special teams.
So far, Alabama has zero commits from safeties, but has added three cornerbacks in Chadarius Townsend, Kyriq McDonald, and JUCO transfer Jhavonte Dean. Under Saban, his secondary players have shown that they can learn multiple positions and contribute. One of these players might be able to do that.
Assuming they do not, four-star Devon Hunter is a guy that Alabama may be able to gain some gain some ground on. Out of Chesapeake, VA. Hunter is likely heading to play for Virginia Tech, but Alabama could sweep him away. Hunter unofficially visited Tuscaloosa back in July, and is rumored to be heading back for the Iron Bowl on Nov. 26. He stands at 6-1, 205 pounds, and has said many times that he is not afraid to head to school away from his home state.
Alabama could also make a play on four-star Deangelo Gibbs out of Loganville, Ga. Gibbs officially visited Tuscaloosa on Oct. 22 for the Crimson Tide’s matchup against Texas A&M. Gibbs is around the same size as Hunter and has also played some wide-receiver as well.
It would really help Alabama to add a safety in this class. Jackson and Fitzpatrick have been huge for the Crimson Tide in almost a centerfield position. They need someone who can play back and read quarterbacks to make a play on the ball, especially since Harrison and Jones are flying up to help with run defense.