Alabama Football to be well-represented in Reese’s Senior Bowl

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2022 Alabama football roster was loaded with accomplished seniors, and many of them have announced their intentions to compete in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl is an annual college all-star game that will take place in Mobile in the first week of February.

So far, seven Alabama players have announced that they will participate in the showcase. Tight end Cameron Latu, offensive linemen Tyler Steen and Emil Ekiyor Jr., defensive linemen Byron Young and DJ Dale, safety DeMarcco Hellams, and, most recently, kicker Will Reichard have all accepted invites to play in the game. Each of these players are starters and significant contributors for the Crimson Tide. With the exception of Steen, who transferred to Tuscaloosa last offseason, every member of this list is a multi-year starter.

The decision to accept a Senior Bowl invite also serves as an announcement that these players will not return next season or exercise their extra year of eligibility. As a result, Senior Bowl announcements begin to provide some clarity on the 2023 roster outlook.

Alabama Football: Significant Losses

Cameron Latu is a former 4-star linebacker recruit turned two-year starter at tight end. Latu had a breakout season in 2021, and remained a key part of the offense in 2022 despite battling injuries. He has 51 catches for 733 yards and 11 touchdowns in his Alabama career.

With Latu’s departure, the tight end position is wide open at Alabama. Sophomore Robbie Ouzts brings a lot of physicality and has thrived in a limited role as an H-back. Freshman Amari Niblack is athletic and has the potential to present a matchup problem for defenses. Elijah Brown, Danny Lewis Jr., Miles Kitselman, and incoming freshman Ty Lockwood fill out the tight end room.

Alabama has also shown interest in Maryland tight end CJ Dippre. Dippre, who is in the transfer portal, would give the Tide an established weapon at the position.

With the expected departures of Tyler Steen and Emil Ekiyor Jr., in addition to the surprise transfer of junior guard Javion Cohen, Alabama football will have to replace a large chunk of its starting offensive line. Steen started the entire year for Alabama at left tackle after transferring from Vanderbilt. Ekiyor Jr. and Cohen have accounted for nearly all of the starts at guard for Alabama over the past two seasons. While these appear to be huge losses on the surface, some Tide football fans would argue that the offensive line needs to be revamped anyway.

Defensive linemen Byron Young and DJ Dale are both four-year contributors that will take a lot of playing experience with them when they leave Tuscaloosa. Young in particular developed into one of the SEC’s top defensive linemen over the past two years. Veterans such as Jamil Burroughs and Tim Smith, along with younger players like Jaheim Oatis, will have to carry the torch on the defensive front going forward.

Safety DeMarcco Hellams is a three-year contributor on the Alabama defense that has had his best season in 2022. Hellams leads the team with 95 tackles and has broken up seven passes. His departure will open up opportunities for junior Kristian Story, sophomore Devonta Smith, or one of the highly-touted defensive backs in Alabama’s 2023 recruiting class.

Kicker Will Reichard will depart as the all-time leading scorer and one of the most reliable kickers in Alabama Football history.  Alabama will likely field a freshman kicker next season, as the Tide have already landed Conor Talty and Reed Harradine in the 2023 class.

The Alabama seniors that have yet to make a definitive announcement regarding next season include defensive lineman Justin Eboigbe, linebacker Henry To’o To’o, and safety Jordan Battle. Alabama football is also awaiting NFL draft decisions from several juniors, as well as more potential transfer portal entries.

The only thing that is certain is that Alabama football will feature a lot of new faces next season. There is already boundless young talent on campus that just needs an opportunity to prove itself. The Crimson Tide also seems primed to add another no. 1 overall recruiting class to its roster, a group that will undoubtedly contain some instant impact players.

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Bama Hammer will continue to provide updates on roster additions and departures for Alabama football.