Alabama Football: Crimson Tide’s five most important juniors

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Alabama Football
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Alabama Football Junior no. 4: Ja’Corey Brooks

In 2023, wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks looks to put his name on the list alongside the great pass-catchers of the Saban era. He made a jump from his freshman to his sophomore year, but it wasn’t the astronomical leap that some expected. In the end, it wasn’t enough.

If Alabama Football is going to return to national championship contention in 2023, Brooks needs to play like the borderline first-round draft pick he is capable of being.

Through two seasons in Tuscaloosa, the Miami, Florida product has racked up 866 yards and 10 touchdowns on 54 receptions. While he is still working to become a consistent performer, he has looked like a legitimate WR1 on several isolated occasions.

Brooks is somewhere between a deep threat and a possession receiver. While he isn’t a burner, he has very long strides and is deceptively fast. He is also vertically explosive and has a knack for high-pointing the football on long routes.

Ja’Corey Brooks is equally competitive on underneath patterns. He’s not extremely quick, nor is he an exceptional route runner, but he uses his 6’2” frame to his advantage and has very strong hands.

Brooks should step into a leadership role in the 2023 receiver room, and is poised to evolve into a star. He will be of great assistance to whoever wins the starting quarterback job.

Alabama Football Junior no. 3: JC Latham

JC Latham was a key member of Alabama’s improved offensive line in 2022. Bama’s right tackle spot was a revolving door of mediocrity in 2021, and was one of the team’s major weaknesses. Latham was able to step up as a true sophomore and solidify the position, starting all 13 games and providing much-needed stability.

He could be even more important in 2023, as he is expected to move to the left side and protect the blind side of Alabama’s starting quarterback. JC Latham is expected to be one of the leaders of the offensive line, and one of the top tackles in the nation. If he continues his current trajectory, he will likely depart Tuscaloosa next spring as a first round draft pick. If he does, he will follow a long lineage of elite Bama tackles, including Evan Neal and Alex Leatherwood in recent years.

Bama still has question marks along its offensive line that must be answered this offseason; namely, the other starting tackle. Whoever starts, Latham has established that he wants the Alabama offensive line to have a “ruthless identity” in 2023, and he will play a big role in determining that identity.