Alabama Football: Could young linebackers see lots of playing time?

Kendrick Blackshire - Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports
Kendrick Blackshire - Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports /

According to the most recent reports, Alabama football could be even more shorthanded at linebacker than what was previously believed.

Senior Jaylen Moody’s arm is in a sling, and it is presumed that he will be out for the Sugar Bowl. Redshirt freshman Deontae Lawson would be first in line to replace Moody, but Lawson did not fully participate in Wednesday’s practice either. There has been no other indication that Lawson won’t be ready to go by game time, but the Crimson Tide would be in an interesting position at linebacker if he is not.

Earlier this season, the Tide lost key reserve Demouy Kennedy for the season with a knee injury. Moody, Lawson, and Kennedy were all jockeying for positions in the two-deep heading into this season, and Bama could be without all three in the Sugar Bowl.

Alabama football has a lot of young talent in its inside linebacker room. However, it doesn’t have anyone behind Henry To’o To’o, Jaylen Moody, and Deontae Lawson that has seen extensive playing time.

True freshman Jihaad Campbell got first-team reps next to To’o To’o in Wednesday’s practice. Campbell was one of the most versatile and high-upside defensive players in the class of 2022. The former 5-star was ranked as the 21st best player in that cycle, and was one of the fastest-rising players in the class. He has only made one tackle this season, but could play a major role in the bowl game.

Sophomore Kendrick Blackshire has dealt with some injuries this season, but has gotten spot snaps at linebacker. He has appeared in seven games and made six tackles on the season. Blackshire worked with the second team this week, alongside redshirt freshman Ian Jackson. Jackson has only seen time on special teams, but could factor in at linebacker if the Crimson Tide are thin at the position.

Another freshman, Shawn Murphy, has played in four games. Murphy, a former 4-star, has seen special teams action as well as snaps at linebacker.

If Alabama football has to utilize its young, unproven talent at inside linebacker, it could work in the Tide’s favor long-term. With To’o To’o and Moody moving on after this season, both linebacker spots will be up for grabs. Guys like Campbell, Blackshire, Jackson, and Murphy could get valuable experience in this game. Good individual performances could build confidence and propel members of this group into the spring with a lot of positive momentum.

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For a lot of Alabama football fans who are already excited about 2023, this bowl game could provide a look ahead in certain position groups.