Alabama Football: How much will youth factor in on the edge?
Will the departure of Will Anderson Jr., Alabama football will be faced with the task of replacing one of the most dominant players in college football in 2023. Anderson Jr. produced 34.5 sacks over three seasons, and will be missed for his stinginess against the run as much as his pass-rushing ability.
Heading into this season, junior Dallas Turner and senior Chris Braswell look to seize the starting jobs. Turner has star potential, with 67 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks in 13 career starts. He performed admirably alongside Anderson Jr., but had a dip in production as a sophomore last season. If he can bounce back to his freshman year form, he will be one of the most dangerous pass rushers in college football.
Chris Braswell has never made a start, but has seen action in 27 games. He has high-upside getting after the quarterback, and made 2.5 sacks as a member of the edge rotation last year.
Braswell also appears to be getting his body ready to compete more effectively at the line of scrimmage. He is now listed at 255 pounds, which means he is up 15 pounds from last year and up 35 pounds from his freshman year. Chris Braswell is an underrated player who could have a breakout season in 2023.
Turner and Braswell should be a formidable duo, but there will be plenty of talent pushing them for snaps.
Sophomore Jeremiah Alexander and redshirt sophomore Keanu Koht should provide quality depth. Alexander was a 5-star recruit and the top edge prospect in the 2022 class. Both Alexander and Koht saw limited reps last season, and will attempt to move up the depth chart this fall.
Alabama football brings in a trio of 5-star edge recruits in 2023. Keon Keeley, Yhonzae Pierre, and Qua Russaw were considered the no. 1, no. 4, and no. 5 edge rushers in the nation, respectively.
Clearly, this is a gifted haul. Still, given the established talent already in this position room, it will be very impressive if any of these freshmen climb into the rotation.
Qua Russaw is the only early enrollee of the group, and can play on the edge or at inside linebacker. Keon Keeley and Yhonzae Pierre are both true edge rushers, and will arrive in the summer session. These two have the talent to one day rival a tandem like Will Anderson Jr. and Dallas Turner.
Alabama Football should have plentiful depth at its outside linebacker positions. How much three elite freshmen will factor in could depend on the performance of the veterans.