Alabama Football: Junior decisions loom with impact on roster numbers

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Making numbers work is an every year challenge for Alabama football. Nick Saban always makes it work and he will again, no matter how many juniors return.

Monday is a big day for Alabama football. Tua Tagovailoa has announced he will make a decision by Monday. Some Crimson Tide fans have asked is Tua deciding and not announcing. We presume it will be both.

Alabama football fans can always find something to nitpick or fret over. Some are asking how the rest of the Crimson Tide QB room will respond if Tua returns. All any of us know is a Tua return would mean the room will be loaded with firepower. Mac Jones has looked more than capable of leading the Tide in 2020. Will there still be breathing room for three more, younger players? What is getting lost in the debate is the question, if Tua returns, will he be healthy enough to play in September. It is too early to know that answer.

A couple of months ago, NFL Draft pundits were speculating the Crimson Tide could have eight first round players in the 2020 Draft. With Dylan Moses opting for another college season, that number is perhaps three to five.

Rumors have been rampant for a couple of weeks. Conventional wisdom is trending toward Tua joining the return parade. Alex Leatherwood has announced a return. There could be more return announcements before Monday. If Tua does delay his NFL plans, Alabama football insiders believe it will lead to Henry Ruggs III and/or Devonta Smith returning as well.

A guess and nothing more is that the NFL early entry guys will be Jerry Jeudy, Najee Harris, Jedrick Wills and maybe Xavier McKinney. One more wrinkle might be Josh McMillon deciding to pass on a sixth season.

Using the paragraph above as a guide, the 2020 Alabama football roster would be roughly 66 returning scholarship players. Add to that the 22 December signees and the scholarship total would be 88. Another four or maybe five players will be added in February. If it is five, that would total about 93 scholarship players on the 2020 roster.

That roster can be over-filled up to the start of fall camp. Even if they don’t come from the QB room, there will be players transferring out. Some of them will wait and assess their prospects after spring football. Looking through the roster, it is not hard to find eight names whose exits would bring the number in balance next August.

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What time will Tua announce on Monday? That is a TBD for now and Bama Hammer will post the schedule as soon as it becomes public. The final deadline to apply for NFL early entry is Jan. 20.