Position Battles to Watch during Alabama Football Spring Practice
Alabama Football begins the journey for national championship No. 19 today, as the Crimson Tide are suiting up for spring practice in preparation for the 2021 season.
You couldn’t ask for more momentum heading into Nick Saban’s 15th year as head coach in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide swept the SEC in the 2020, went undefeated on the way to winning a national championship, and signed the highest-ranked recruiting class in college football history according to 247Sports.
The Crimson Tide also returned several key names to the roster in 2021. The majority of these names play on the defense, including outside linebacker Chris Allen, inside linebacker Christian Harris, cornerback Josh Jobe, and safety Jordan Battle among others.
Offensively, the Crimson Tide have a plethora of spots to fill, returning only right tackle Evan Neal, guard Emil Ekiyor, and wide receiver John Metchie.
With top recruits coming in and a host of veteran Crimson Tide players on the active roster, fans can expect several heated competitions to determine who will rise to the top of Alabama’s depth charts this offseason.
Here are the top position battles to watch heading in to Alabama Football spring practice.
Alabama has several “massive” gaps to fill on the offensive line in 2021.
Rimington Trophy winner and fan favorite Landon Dickerson has declared for the NFL, in addition to Outland Trophy winner Alex Leatherwood and three-year starting guard Deonte “Cornbread” Brown. Together, they create vacancies at the center, left tackle, and left guard positions.
Fortunately for new offensive line coach Doug Marrone, he is inheriting one of the best offensive line recruiting classes in the history of college football.
The class is headlined by the No. 1 and No. 2 offensive tackles in the country in JC Latham and Tommy Brockermeyer. It also features the No. 1 center in the class and Tommy’s brother, James Brockermeyer. At guard, the Crimson Tide have options with Terrence Ferguson and four star Jaeden Roberts, the No. 2 and No. 15 ranked guards in the class.
Alabama also received a huge boost when senior Chris Owens decided to come back for his final year of eligibility. Owens has experience playing every position on the offensive line, and looks to be a day one starter wherever Marrone thinks he is needed the most.
Also look out for veteran reserves that rose quickly during position battles last year, including junior guard Darrian Dalcourt and tackle Pierce Quick, as well as redshirt junior Tommy Brown.
With the departures of Heisman Trophy winning wide receiver Devonta Smith and potential first round pick Jaylen Waddle, there are openings that need to be filled at the wide receiver position and plenty of names to go around.
John Metchie returns as the leader of a deep yet inexperienced wide receiver corps, having played in all 13 games last season for the Crimson Tide and totaling 916 yards and six touchdowns on 55 receptions.
Redshirt junior Slade Bolden returns as the next leading receiver, totaling 270 yards and a touchdown from last season. After that, redshirt junior Xavier Williams and sophomore Javon Baker are also names who earned game action last year.
In terms of new recruits, Alabama has plenty of options having signed the No. 2, No. 5, No. 6 and No. 10 best wide receivers in the 2021 class. IMG Academy Jacorey Brooks is the bell-cow of this new wide receiver class, having the potential and measurables to be a contributor from the first day of spring practice. Look for him as well as early enrollees Agiye Hall and Christian Leary to garner hype.
With Dylan Moses leaving, the alpha on the Alabama defense in 2021 is unquestionably going to be two-year starter Christian Harris. That leaves an opening at the opposite inside linebacker position, and a huge question for defensive coordinator Pete Golding as to who will fill it.
A name right away to look for is Shane Lee, the former full-time starter from the 2019 Alabama team. When Moses and former linebacker Joshua McMillon were both deemed out for the season in 2019, Lee and Harris both stepped up as Alabama’s starting linebackers for the entire season. Lee was relegated to a back-up role upon Moses’ return, however he still has the experience to start.
With the transfers of reserve linebackers Kevin Harris and Ale Kaho, Alabama will need to rely on other reserves and newcomers to fill this gap. Senior Jaylen Moody earned significant playing time last season and also looks to be a prime candidate having been in the system for several years.
Former top Alabama linebacker recruits Demouy Kennedy and Deonte Lawson are also two highly anticipated players based on their prowess and measurables coming out of high school. Additionally, 6-2, 245 lb freshman Kendrick Blackshire is an athletic specimen who isn’t an early enrollee, however he looks physically ready to come in and contribute fast.
Other less controversial position battles to happen during this offseason include cornerback, running back, and quarterback.
Alabama fans will get a more clear picture of how these position battles might take shape when the Crimson Tide plays it’s annual A-Day game on April 17th at noon CT, televised by ESPN.
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