Alabama Football: 2020 Linebacker position group preview

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

Alabama football looks to be vastly improved at linebacker in 2020. Adding back only Dylan Moses would be improvement enough but he will have plenty of help on the inside and outside.

No Alabama football position group received more scrutiny last season than the inside linebackers. The near void left after injuries to Dylan Moses and Josh McMillon was probably the biggest reason the Crimson Tide string of CFB Playoff seasons was broken.

Despite stellar play by Anfernee Jennings, the outside linebacker group also failed to be a consistent pass-rushing threat. Now both areas will be rebuilt. The numbers are promising. Going into spring, the Alabama football roster has nine inside linebackers and nine outside linebackers.

Admittedly the 18 player linebacker roster is dominated by youth. First or second-year players take up 11 of the 18 slots. But there is also considerable talent. Measuring from multiple recruiting services rankings, seven of the 18 linebackers were rated as 5-Star recruits.

The Alabama football staff has the luxury of pushing the group hard and allowing spring and fall camp competition to determine playing time. The roster is so deep and the talent so strong, attrition is likely. Crimson Tide fans should not be surprised if two or more linebackers move to other programs for more playing time.

Alabama Football 2020 Outside Linebackers

Based on playing experience, redshirt junior Chris Allen is the one player almost assured of a starting role. Allen appeared in seven games in 2017. He received a medical redshirt for the 2018 season. He played in every game last season. His career, Crimson Tide stats are minimal but that is expected to change in 2020.

Unlike Allen as the likely starting Jack linebacker, the competition at Sam will be wide open. The top two contenders returning from last season are probably Kevin Harris (redshirt freshman) and King Mwikuta (sophomore.) The Tide staff sees potential in both. Harris needed more weight and after adding 12 pounds, according to the official roster, still needs a bit more on his 6-foot-4 frame. Mwikuta has the size at 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds.

The top newcomers are the highly rated, 5-Star trio of Drew Sanders, Will Anderson and Chris Braswell. All three are expected to contribute in 2020. At the least, Anderson and Braswell could be frequent edge rushers in the Dime-Rabbits package. Sanders is loaded with physical skills and football IQ. He has a chance to be the Sam starter from game one.

Quandarrius Robinson will not enroll until summer. At 6-foot-5 and 217 pounds, he will need weight and strength development. Other than special teams, his chance for playing time as a freshman is limited.

What about Ben Davis and Jarez Parks? They will get a chance to hold off the younger players.

Alabama Football 2020 Inside Linebackers

The return of Dylan Moses cannot be overstated. Last season, the Moses injury was the one from which the Crimson Tide could not recover. If he remains healthy throughout the 2020 season, the Tide defense will return to top form.

Who starts next to Moses will be interesting. Josh McMillon, returning for a sixth season, is the leading candidate. He has all the knowledge to complement Moses. If Josh can hold off Christian Harris, the important second unit will be Harris and Shane Lee or Ale Kaho. True freshmen, Demouy Kennedy and Jackson Bratton are probable future starters, but most likely, not in 2020. Kennedy will need more than 215 pounds for SEC play.

What about Markail Benton and Jaylen Moody? Both will need to shine this spring or 2020 playing time will be on special teams.

Next. 2020 Defensive Back Preview. dark

How good will the Tide’s 2020 linebackers be? With a healthy Moses and game experience in the first half of the season, they should be very good for a late run to the CFB Playoff.