Alabama Football brought in five transfers this offseason, the first of which was former Maryland tight end CJ Dippre.
Dippre was in Tuscaloosa for spring practice, and will likely get the first crack at replacing third-round draft pick Cameron Latu as Alabama’s starting tight end.
Dippre is similar in stature to Latu at 6’5” and nearly 260 pounds. Like Latu, he also possesses a balanced skillset. Dippre is a capable receiver and will provide a big target for whoever wins the Bama QB job. He will also contribute as an effective blocker, both in-line and in space on the perimeter.
Latu gave the Crimson Tide 377 yards and four touchdowns in 2022, after racking up 410 yards and eight scores as a junior in 2021. CJ Dippre put up similar numbers for the Terrapins last season, recording 30 grabs for 314 yards and three touchdowns from former Alabama quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa.
Dippre, who is slightly bigger and perhaps a little more athletic than Latu, could thrive in the Alabama offense. He will be deployed by new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, who became well-known for his usage and development of tight ends in his previous stop at Notre Dame.
It is possible that Dippre performs well in 2023 and is as good or better than Latu was, and yet he may not have the numbers to show for it. Alabama Football figures to be deep and versatile at tight end this season, and could opt to use a by-committee approach.
Sophomore Amari Niblack is a high-upside pass catcher that could have a breakout year for the Crimson Tide. At 6’4”, Niblack is athletic enough to line up out wide and cause matchup problems for smaller defensive backs.
One of the bigger surprises of the spring was redshirt freshman Danny Lewis Jr. After playing in just five games and recording no stats last season, Lewis Jr. made a big jump this offseason.
He made four receptions for 30 yards on A-Day, and will likely be a significant part of the offense this season. Like Dippre, he is a big-bodied, versatile tight end that appears to be equally adept as a blocker and as a receiver.
Alabama Football has a lot of pieces in this tight end room, and will likely utilize them all in various ways in 2023. CJ Dippre provides the best balance of blocking, receiving, and game experience, so expect him to lead the group to start the season.