Alabama Football: Four guys who could become surprise starters

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Alabama football will have two-deep battles throughout August and September

When Alabama football begins fall camp, every Crimson Tide player must earn a starting or regular rotation role. There are no exceptions. Mac Jones and Najee Harris must prove themselves no differently from first-year players.

The early portion of fall camp is when new or last season’s little-used players must shine. By the last fall scrimmage (likely Aug. 22) being in the two-deep is essential. After that practice contest, reps are apportioned by a pecking order.

Fall camp is expected to begin on Aug. 7. The normal acclimation period will limit contact for up to five days. Two scrimmages are expected with the first coming no sooner than Aug. 15. The NCAA has specified player walk-throughs, with the full coaching staff may begin on July 13.

Several starting jobs are up for grabs during the July 13 – Aug. 29 period. Even USC game week, Nick Saban’s official depth chart may have lots of ‘or’ designations. Moves up and down the two-deep will likely continue until Georgia game week.

In the defensive front seven, every player other than Dylan Moses will have serious competition. The result of those position battles will explain high expectations for the 2020 Tide.

Potential Alabama Football Roster Surprises

All four of our predicted roster surprises are on the Alabama Crimson Tide defense. The predictions are not about week one or two. Perhaps not even week three or four. But by the Monday practice on Sept. 28, we expect four starting surprises.

Christian Barmore over D.J. Dale at Nose

Dale is an inside defensive lineman. He may return fully healthy and re-win his job. A better bet is Christian Barmore. All Barmore has lacked is assignment discipline. He can play inside or outside on the defensive line. He is up to 310 pounds with no expected loss of quickness. One reason Barmore moves inside is the depth of talent at defensive end. Instead of working outside, Barmore, Dale and Phidarian Mathis will work inside.

Justin Eboigbe will start at Defensive End

The return of LaBryan Ray should make him one of the starters. He will have competition behind him from either Byron Young or Braylen Ingraham. Those three, plus Justin Eboigbe will be the defensive end rotation. Last season, Eboigbe showed flashes of what he can do. The coaching staff loves him. Ray will have to finally live up to his potential or get passed. If he does, he should have a great 2020. But no better than Justin Eboigbe. Byron Young impressed in 2019 and is also a threat to win a starting role.  Needing more weight, Ingraham did not get the same opportunity last season. He has it now, at 291 pounds.

King Mwikuta will be the top Outside Linebacker

The Crimson Tide is loaded at linebacker. Particularly so, at outside linebacker. The most likely scenario is Chris Allen and Mwikuta as starters, depending on the formation. Freshmen, Will Anderson, Chris Braswell and Drew Sanders will push for rotation roles. Anderson has so much pass-rushing talent, the guy he rotates in for could be Allen rather than Mwikuta. A potential shakeup could occur if Christian Harris is moved from inside to outside. Harris has the talent to start on the outside if he doesn’t start inside.

Christian Harris will get more snaps than Josh McMillon

McMillon is solid. He should start next to Dylan Moses. He may have that role the entire season. But if Christian Harris does not move outside, Harris could win the Will linebacker job. Harris simply has too much talent to not be on the field.

Next. Players from 2018 class to step up in 2020. dark

Alabama football fans can anticipate another exciting season. There is no reason the Tide should not win another Championship. Check out the entire Crimson Tide roster, here.