Alabama Football: Crimson Tide’s five most important freshmen

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Alabama Football Freshman no. 3: Yhonzae Pierre

Edge rusher Yhonzae Pierre is the only summer enrollee on this list, meaning he will miss spring ball, but Pierre has the talent to quickly make up for the deficit. He was a late bloomer in the 2023 cycle, and enjoyed a meteoric rise to become a 5-star recruit by signing day. Pierre was considered the second-best player in the state of Alabama, and the fourth-best edge rusher in the class.

Yhonzae Pierre is a freakish athlete, who, alongside classmate Keon Keeley, could push for reps in year one. Surface-level observations would tell you that Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell have the edge positions locked down, but the two veterans will have to continue to prove themselves in 2023.

Turner, a junior, had a down year in 2022 relative to how he burst on the scene as a true freshman. Braswell, a senior, is physically gifted and fairly experienced in his own right, but has never been a full-time starter.

While the returners will have a leg up on the competition, this should be an open position battle, and Yhonzae Pierre is far too talented to count out.

Alabama Football Freshman no. 2: Caleb Downs

Caleb Downs could very well be the most impactful member of Alabama’s 2023 class this season and beyond. He was ranked as the top safety and the no. 6 overall player in the nation. Given Bama’s three major departures at safety, Downs is fully expected to step into a prominent role immediately at one spot or another in the Crimson Tide secondary.

He has elite playmaking potential, and if he plays to that standard he will help to improve the back end of the Bama defense. Caleb Downs is the type of defensive back that can single handedly boost the disruptive capability of an entire defensive unit.

However, there is one member of the freshman class that could mean more to the Tide than Downs in 2023.