Alabama Football: Latest nuggets heading into the Duke game

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Check out the latest news on new starters, injured players and more as Alabama football prepares to open the season against the Duke Blue Devils.

The latest version of the Alabama Crimson Tide is filled with new. The Alabama football staff includes six new assistant coaches, five of whom are leading Tide position groups for the first time in their careers. The roster is predominantly young and heavily populated by first and second-year players.

Most significant is the probability five true freshmen will start against Duke. The twin true freshmen inside linebackers have been the biggest news. Shane Lee at the Mike linebacker slot and Christian Harris at the Will linebacker will literally be learning on the job.

Another true freshman will start on the interior of the defense. D.J. Dale replaces Quinnen Williams at nose guard. Dale is of yet, not the player Q was, but he impressed in the spring and in fall camp before twisting a knee. He is not expected to be at full strength but should have no problem starting against the Blue Devils.

A fourth true freshman starter could be Evan Neal at left guard. Neal is huge, coming to Tuscaloosa last winter at about 360 pounds. Insiders say he will start the season at just under 340 pounds.

The fifth true freshman is placekicker Will Reichard. He will kick field goals and extra points. Reichard may share kickoffs with Joseph Bulovas. Skyler DeLong and Reichard are expected to share the punting duties.

Given the anticipated suspensions, another true freshman, Keilan Robinson could also start at running back. If healthy enough, that running back start is more likely to be filled by redshirt freshman, Jerome Ford.

Speaking of the suspensions, Najee Harris, Brian Robinson, Terrell Lewis and Devonta Smith are expected to miss the opening game’s first quarter. There have also been rumors the quartet of Alabama football players will sit out the entire first half. The Alabama football program has issued no official statement on the suspensions. Like almost every college coach, Nick Saban handles discipline issues internally.

In discussing the challenge faced by Shane Lee and Christian Harris, Nick Saban said,

"Shane Lee and Christian Harris, whether they were starters or backups either one, they’re both bright guys and they’ve been very engaged in what they have to do to be able to go play. I mean, don’t think there’s any substitute for experience, but now they’re going to get the opportunity to get some of that where they have an opportunity to apply the knowledge that they have."

Bold Predictions for the Crimson Tide vs. Duke. dark. Next

Until the injury to Dylan Moses, Alabama football fans had been less hyped than the normal season opener. Seeing how all the true freshmen perform now has everyone dialed in.