Alabama Football: Kevin Steele will have plenty to work with

(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

Alabama Football finally answered its last major question heading into 2023 spring practice, and has now filled both of its coordinator positions.

Kevin Steele, who has formerly served as the defensive coordinator at Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Miami, and LSU, is returning to Tuscaloosa to be its next DC.

In taking over this iteration of the Alabama defense, Steele will have as much talent as he has ever had at his disposal. That talent has to be deployed appropriately if Alabama is going to get back to fielding elite defenses and winning national championships.

Alabama Football: 2023 Defensive Line

Seniors Justin Eboigbe and Tim Smith figure to be leaders on the Alabama defensive line as they seek to play their way into the early rounds of next year’s NFL draft. Rising sophomore Jaheim Oatis will anchor the line from his nose guard position. Oatis’ sheer size, brute strength, and surprising level of agility make him very difficult to block.

Juniors Jamil Burroughs and Jah-Marien Latham, as well as sophomores Damon Payne and Monkell Goodwine, have all seen rotational snaps on the defensive line and could play increased roles in 2023. Incoming freshman James Smith was a 5-star recruit out of Montgomery and the top player in the state of Alabama in the class of 2023. Smith has a college-ready physical makeup and could find himself on the field early.

Alabama Football: 2023 Linebackers

Kevin Steele specializes in working with linebackers, and Alabama football is loaded with talent at the position. Redshirt sophomore Deontae Lawson is positioned to be the next star inside linebacker in Tuscaloosa, and he could be flanked by some combination of JUCO transfer Justin Jefferson, Georgia transfer Trezmen Marshall, and junior Kendrick Blackshire.

True sophomores Jihaad Campbell and Shawn Murphy are waiting in the wings, and could push for time as early as this year. Campbell in particular is overflowing with natural ability that is waiting to be refined and implemented.

Alabama will have just as much talent on the edge. Junior Dallas Turner is in need of a bounce-back year after a dip in production as a sophomore. With Turner, paired with senior Chris Braswell, Bama boasts one of the better pass-rush duos in college football.

A pair of freakish incoming freshmen, 5-stars Keon Keeley and Yhonzae Pierre, are the outside linebackers of the future and will be a dynamic tandem in their own right. Keeley and Pierre may prove to be too talented to keep off the field in 2023.

Alabama Football: 2023 Secondary

The secondary for Alabama football loses several key pieces, including both starting safeties, one starting corner, and potential first-round draft pick Brian Branch in the nickel.

Kool-Aid McKinstry returns as the leader of the group, and will be expected to lock down one side of the field. The other cornerback position is up for grabs, though redshirt sophomore Terrion Arnold started seven games in 2022 and could have the inside track to winning the job.

Bama will trot out two new safeties next season. Heading into the spring, senior Kristian Story and freshman Caleb Downs are the favorites to lock down those spots. Downs has the capability to play in the nickel or on the back end, and is expected to be a standout in the Alabama secondary. It would help Kevin Steele greatly if Downs can reach that potential sooner rather than later.

Should Caleb Downs play high safety, senior Malachi Moore will man the nickel spot. Moore is one of the most experienced defensive backs on the team, and is a proven playmaker.

Next. Why Steele is a good hire. dark

Alabama football fans hope Kevin Steele will be a dramatic upgrade from Pete Golding. Expectations will be high for Steele, just as they were for Golding, because talent is not an issue on this Alabama defense.