Alabama Football: Crimson Tide’s five most important sophomores

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 3

Alabama football had a handful of freshmen become key contributors on its 2022 team, and those players will shoulder heavier burdens as sophomores this year.

The most important sophomore could end up being redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe, who will enter a heated spring quarterback battle with redshirt freshmen Ty Simpson.

With Milroe’s spot being uncertain, and quarterback being a position that rarely rotates players, this list explores five other rising sophomores that could potentially make a big impact.

Alabama Football Sophomore no. 5: Isaiah Bond

Any number of talented sophomore receivers could reasonably make this list, but I see Isaiah Bond as the sleeper, and the member of the group with the highest ceiling. Kobe Prentice and Kendrick Law are both promising possession receivers, but Bond is the game-breaker of the group. After making 17 receptions for 220 yards and one touchdown in 2022, he could blow up in his true sophomore campaign.

Isaiah Bond showed his explosiveness with a 53-yard catch against Arkansas that would’ve been a walk-in touchdown if he didn’t lose his footing. He would later make a 33-yard grab on a slot fade against Tennessee, and caught his first career touchdown pass against Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl.

Alabama should be able to put Bond on the field with other vertical threats like Jermaine Burton or Malik Benson to put a lot of pressure on opposing secondaries. Meanwhile, guys like Ja’Corey Brooks, Prentice, and Law, along with tight end CJ Dippre, will work underneath.

Alabama Football Sophomore no. 4: Jaheim Oatis

Jaheim Oatis returns as one of the leaders of the defensive line, and could be the most disruptive member of the group in 2023. Oatis will be flanked by seasoned vets such as Tim Smith and Justin Eboigbe, and has plenty of experience in his own right after starting 10 games as a freshman.

Jaheim Oatis has continued his dramatic body transformation this offseason, dropping 42 more pounds since the beginning of the 2022 season to reach a lean 328 pounds. Oatis notably arrived on campus last year at over 400 pounds, and was able to turn himself into an SEC-level starter almost overnight.

Even when he was out of shape, the big man was remarkably mobile and agile for his size. His explosiveness, brute strength, and active hands made him difficult to block against both the run and the pass.  Check out this viral highlight from his first college game:

Oatis, who was listed at anywhere between 342 and 370 pounds in the 2022 season, parlayed his playing time into Freshman All-SEC honors.

If this new playing weight unveils a quicker and better-conditioned Jaheim Oatis, he will likely be an every-down guy. If Oatis can make these changes without sacrificing any power, he could be the first-round talent Alabama has yearned for on the defensive line since Quinnen Williams wore the Crimson & White.