Across college football, the Transfer Portal has taken some luster off incoming freshmen. Even so, the Alabama Football 2023 class was loaded with such outstanding talent, early-impacts by freshmen are expected.
A long-established premise in college football is that relying too much on freshmen is risky. Lesser programs are forced into playing freshmen quickly more than elite programs like the Alabama Crimson Tide. When a freshman starts or plays a key rotational role in Tuscaloosa, it is not about a position cupboard being bare.
Rather it is because Nick Saban will reward his best players, even when it means they must fight through a learning curve. Looking at the 2023 season, it is highly likely several freshmen will fill key roles. It is not because they were 5-Star or highly rated 4-Star recruits, but because they are simply too good to be kept off the field. When those key roles will evolve is hard to predict. Will Nick Saban trust true freshmen starters on the offensive line, and at safety, in the Texas game?
Though no player has earned a starting role yet, many Alabama football fans believe Caleb Downs will be at safety against MTSU. Nick Saban gave Downs considerable praise throughout the spring. With two new starters needed at safety, the odds appear high that Downs will start in his first college football game.
The following week against the Texas offense, Downs and the Alabama football secondary will be tested by Quinn Ewers and a quality group of Longhorn receivers.
Alabama Football Freshmen Against Texas
The best defense against the Texas passing attack will be frequent pressure on Ewers. Freshmen Edge, Keon Keeley has the potential to be a future Alabama star, but multiple guys ahead of him on the depth chart means Keeley will have to be patient. More seasoned players will carry the load against Texas.
Like Keeley, freshman offensive lineman, Kadyn Proctor is also expected to become a future star. Proctor might earn a starting role in the 2023 season. The best current guess is Proctor on the first unit is more likely to be a mid or late-season situation.
The best running back group in college football will allow Alabama to use a committee approach at running back. Four guys are expected to share snaps. There is anticipation that at some point during the season, freshman Justice Haynes will be the best among a very talented group of Alabama running backs.
It is possible, even probable, other Alabama football freshmen will also have impacts, beyond special teams roles.