Eighteen new Alabama football players will hit the practice field next month. Fifteen of them are early enrollee freshmen. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide coaching staff have holes to fill with new starters. One or more of the highly touted freshmen have a chance to earn a starting role.
None of the new starters will be determined during spring work. Winning a starting job, especially for unproven players, happens in the tough slog of fall camp.
The determining factor will not be talent. The Crimson Tide roster, as always under Nick Saban, is loaded with talent. Being able to dependably do the designated job is about consistency. Nick Saban is always careful about expectations being too high or coming too soon for his freshmen. Saban has explained his philosophy about young players,
"We want everybody to play early. That’s our goal.We’ve played a lot of freshmen here. We’ve had a lot of freshmen start for us and play very well. But at the same time, we have a responsibility and obligation not to put a guy out there if he’s not ready to go play with confidence, be confident in what he’s doing so he can go play fast and create value for himself."
The creating value for himself part requires a player to first create value for his teammates. Saban has often said, players choose the leaders they trust. That also applies to players, not in leadership roles, being accountable to teammates. Nowhere is that more important than on the offensive line. Unless each offensive lineman performs well, the unit cannot succeed.
Finding two tackles to do that by the season opener is a major task for the Crimson Tide. Incoming freshman, Tyler Booker could become one of the unit’s starters. Every indication is he is physically capable of playing early. A 4-Star, player coming out of IMG Academy, he was rated as the No. 7 offensive tackle in the 2022 class. If Booker can beat out two of multiple second-year, former 5-Star offensive tackles, JC Latham and Tommy Brockermeyer, along with redshirt junior, Amari Kight, he could start at right tackle.
Another freshman who is clearly, physically ready for a key role, is outside linebacker, Jihaad Campbell. The 5-Star recruit would step in as a starter for many SEC schools. Barring an injury, playing behind Will Anderson Jr. and Dallas Turner means Campbell will not start for the Tide.
It is possible an early enrollee, freshman wide receiver could earn a starting role. Both Aaron Anderson and Kendrick Law have a chance with so many starting slots up for grabs.