Alabama Football Near The Bottom In SEC For Returning Starters


According to college football expert Phil Steele’s latest blog, Alabama Football will rank near the bottom on returning the least number of starters among teams in the SEC.

It’s also important to remember that these figures are before anyone as declared for the NFL Draft as well. Steele indicates that the list will be updates as the announcement of the players’ futures are announced.

As it stands now, Steele has it as the Tide only returning four starters but that number jumps to eight on the defensive side of the ball.

The Tide will have the off-season quarterback battle to replace Blake Sims. Graduate transfer Jacob Coker, David Cornwell, Alec Morris as well as in-coming early enrollee Blake Barnett vying for the slot. No decision as been announced on players like T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper but you can pretty much make an educated guess on their decision. With Derrick Henry, Tyren Jones, Altee Tenpenny and Kenyan Drake, who was injured against Ole Miss and missed the remainder of the season, the stable at running back seems to be in good hands.

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Alabama will also have to replace Jalston Fowler at the full back spot. I’ve read a few rumblings that there is a possibility Ronnie Clark could get a look here as well as Ty Flournoy-Smith.

At the wide receiver and tight end positions, Steele has one returning starter with departures from wide receivers DeAndrew White and Christion Jones plus tight end Brian Vogler. I’m guessing he still has Amari Cooper has coming back until he officially makes an announcement. Alabama has no shortage of highly rated prospects coming out of high school that have been on campus and contributed during the season including Chris Black, ArDarius Stewart, Derek Kief, Raheem Falkins and Cameron Sims. Hopefully, O.J. Howard can take over Vogler and haul in a few more passes in crucial times.

Steele has two returning to the offensive line with Ryan Kelly and phenomenal left tackle Camerson Robinson. Players like Grant Hill, Bradley Bozeman and Dominick Jackson should be able to fill the holes, especially with a little more camp time.

The somewhat bad news on the offensive side of the ball is not ideal to Tide fans however, the eight returning starters to the defense should make you feel better.

Some think Reggie Ragland is a possibility to return but on the other hand, safety Landon Collins is heading to the big time. The Tide will return three on the defensive line, two from the linebackers and three to the defensive backs. The secondary was susceptible to giving up big plays this season but expect some improvement there, especially with the talent that was signed last National Signing Day plus the one upcoming too.

There’s one word that should lessen your concerns though: Depth.

If you take a look at the participation charts for the 2014 season, all of these guys that the staff will look at to step in all have a considerable amount of experience.

On offense, the majority of the available players all have double digit games that they at least saw some action. Only two players have single digits for in-game experience. The defense is even better. With the depth plus returning players as well as the addition of some Signing Day guys, the defensive line could be one of the sickest units for in a while.

Next: Alabama Football: Tide Welcomes Six Early Enrollees

If one of the quarterbacks steps up and shows out, the secondary issues are taken care of, and the linebacker unit improves especially if Reggie Ragland sticks around, Alabama could be right back in the running to play for it all next season.

It’s important to remember that all of these projections are before the announcements for the NFL Draft.