Alabama football is in a strong position for a CFB Playoff return, but the lack of defensive line depth is a concern.
Alabama football defensive lineman, Ishmael Sopsher was a Top 50 player in the 2019 recruiting class. For most of that cycle, he was rated as a 5-Star recruit. From Amite, LA, the Crimson Tide had determined competition from LSU to sign Sopsher.
It was reported late Wednesday night by Matt Zenitz of al.com that Sopsher has entered the transfer portal. Sopsher has not played for the Crimson Tide this season. His Alabama football playing career is a single appearance against Western Carolina.
Sopsher was the top defensive tackle prospect in the 2019 class until his weight became a concern. Some estimates had him approaching 375 pounds his senior year of high school. He came to Tuscaloosa over 350 pounds but steadily worked his weight down to 310 pounds. Throughout the preseason, Alabama football insiders commented on Sopsher’s progress, with an expectation he would contribute this fall.
Unlike Nick Saban’s past norms for defensive line rotation, this season’s unit has not been deep. Against the Georgia Bulldogs, true freshmen, Jamil Burroughs and Tim Smith saw their first action. Their participation ahead of redshirt freshman, Sopsher may have motivated his decision to seek another team.
With the justified high expectations for this season’s Crimson Tide, defensive line depth, or the lack of it, is a legitimate concern. Burroughs got 11 snaps against Georgia. Tim Smith was in for eight plays. Those 19 snaps in one game have been the only expansion of a Crimson Tide six-man defensive line rotation. Sophomore Stephon Wynn, redshirt freshman, Braylen Ingraham and true freshman, Jah-Marien Latham have not played.
It is harder to develop game experience with an all-SEC schedule. It is understandable Freddie Roach and Pete Golding being averse to playing unproven players too soon. It could be an eight-man rotation is adequate to make a championship run. For Alabama football fans, the concern is, does the Tide have the depth to battle teams relying on hurry-up. Eight is enough without losing any to injury. The loss of one or two Crimson Tide defensive linemen would make the Tide vulnerable in tough games.
Assuming the Crimson Tide has a two-plus touchdown, fourth-quarter lead in Knoxville, it will be interesting to see if Ingraham or Latham join Burroughs and Smith for their first action.
Losing Sopsher disappoints Crimson Tide fans. But the possible emergence of Jamil Burroughs should allay concerns. Though not a highly rated recruit the Alabama football staff has always valued his potential.