Alabama Football: Should Crimson Tide back off from the portal?

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

Alabama football has made the transfer portal a huge part of its roster construction process over the past two seasons. In 2021, it appeared to pay major dividends as Tennessee transfer Henry To’o To’o instantly slotted in at starting middle linebacker, and Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams became a Biletnikoff award finalist and the most electric receiver in the nation.

The Crimson Tide took it up a notch in the 2022 offseason, bringing in five transfers. Most have been valuable additions and solid contributors. Georgia Tech transfer Jahmyr Gibbs has been arguably Alabama’s best player and is one of the nation’s top running backs. He has amassed 1,136 yards from scrimmage and nine total touchdowns in nine games.

Vanderbilt transfer Tyler Steen filled an Evan Neal-sized void at left tackle, and has played pretty well. He is a key piece of a far-from-elite but much improved Alabama offensive line. LSU transfer Eli Ricks was a good pickup at corner, but his season got off to a slow start. Ricks wasn’t able to break into the lineup until week eight, and didn’t play in several games in which Alabama could’ve used him.

A pair of receiver transfers have been underwhelming for the Tide. Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton has 325 receiving yards on the season while Louisville transfer Tyler Harrell has spent most of the year injured, and has just one catch.

While players such as Jameson Williams in 2021 and Jahmyr Gibbs in 2022 have been successful and filled needed roles for Alabama, they may not have benefitted the program in the long term. An over-reliance on the portal to fill roster gaps could have an underlying negative effect on the culture of Alabama football.

Bringing in transfer players to be immediate contributors and starters inevitably leads to other players transferring out further down the depth chart. In the 2022 offseason, Alabama welcomed five incoming transfers but lost 22 outgoing transfers. Over time, this will negatively impact the depth of the team, as well as the culture of competition.

There could even be a detrimental effect on the players who decided to stay in Tuscaloosa. Consider players like linebacker Deontae Lawson and wide receiver Christian Leary, both former 4-stars in the 2021 class. Both have dealt with crowded position rooms, partially due to transfer acquisitions, throughout their time on campus. It is very possible that they have missed out on game reps, and the development that accompanies that experience, as a result.

It seems that Alabama football is missing some of the intangible aspects that have made the program great. Perhaps the strategy of “quick-fix” roster construction through the transfer portal has contributed to this decline.

Betting info, prediction for Ole Miss. dark. Next

It will be intriguing to watch how Alabama operates this offseason; will it continue plugging holes with transfer players or will it return to in-house development?