Alabama Football: 2023 Offensive Line will lean on IMG pipeline

Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman JC Latham (65) Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman JC Latham (65) Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

Of all the position groups on the team, the offensive line for Alabama football has taken a particularly hard hit. Starting guard Emil Ekiyor Jr. and starting tackle Tyler Steen both accepted invites to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, and will be departing. Additionally, starting guard Javion Cohen surprised the fan base when he announced his intention to transfer, eventually landing in Miami.

Reserve offensive linemen Tanner Bowles, Tommy Brockermeyer, Amari Kight, and Damieon George all joined Cohen in the portal. Collectively, this was a blow to the depth of an offensive line that was already tasked with replacing three starters.

Alabama brings in a loaded 2023 recruiting class at the position. 4-star offensive linemen Wilkin Formby, Miles McVay, Olaus Alinen, and RyQueze McElderry are already in the boat, and the Tide appear primed to flip 5-star tackle Kadyn Proctor from Iowa.

Alabama football could also seek an experienced linemen from the portal to supplement this talented group.

As it stands, the 2023 Alabama offensive line will be led by a pair of young but very talented players. Right tackle JC Latham and guard Tyler Booker both play with the physicality and aggressive mentality of past dominant Bama offensive lines.

Latham provided stability at right tackle, which was the Tide’s Achilles’ heel in 2021. Booker forced his way into the rotation at guard as a true freshman despite Alabama returning two veteran starters at the position.

The two could potentially be shuffled to different positions in 2023. Latham could be moved to left tackle or stay on the right side, depending on need. Booker, who played tackle in high school, could either fill the void at tackle opposite Latham, or simply stay at guard. Either way, the duo seems destined to be the anchors of the line.

JC Latham, a 5-star recruit in the class of 2021, and Tyler Booker, a 4-star recruit in the class of 2022, are both products of IMG Academy in Florida. Alabama football has had extensive success recruiting offensive linemen from IMG. Latham and Booker could be on their way to following in the footsteps of Evan Neal, a 5-star tackle in the class of 2019 that followed the same pipeline.

Neal was an IMG product that committed to Nick Saban and Alabama as the nation’s top tackle, and met or surpassed all expectations. He started from day one, amassing 40 career starts before being selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

JC Latham and Tyler Booker were two of Alabama’s most promising offensive linemen in 2022 and hope to eventually follow a similar trajectory to that of Neal. As a whole, the offensive lines for Alabama football have lacked physicality over the past two seasons.

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Latham and Booker will move into leadership roles in 2023, along with center Seth McLaughlin. I believe this trio will instill a shift in attitude on the line, restoring Alabama to what it should be: an overwhelming force in the trenches.