Alabama Football has come to something of a crossroads heading into the 2023 season. The narrative that the team writes this season could very well define the rest of Coach Nick Saban’s unparalleled career.
The theme of the 2023 offseason, which is officially coming to a close this week with the opening of fall camp, has been competition. There are only a handful of positions on the Alabama Football roster that aren’t wide open heading into camp, and the constant competition will improve every position on the roster.
Alabama Football: Competition on offense
Quarterback is the position battle that grabs all the headlines, and Alabama has at least three capable contestants vying for the job. Redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe served as the backup last season, and likely got the first crack at securing the job.
Redshirt freshman Ty Simpson and redshirt sophomore Tyler Buchner, a Notre Dame transfer, are the challengers. Bama also has a pair of highly-touted true freshmen in Dylan Lonergan and Eli Holstein.
The running back room could go four-deep, led by senior Jase McClellan. 5-star true freshman Justice Haynes got the most buzz this offseason, but he has three quality returners to beat out for snaps.
At wide receiver, the Crimson Tide has a two-deep of starting-caliber players. Veterans Jermaine Burton, Ja’Corey Brooks, and Malik Benson will join forces with sophomore trio Kobe Prentice, Kendrick Law, and Isaiah Bond. Any grouping of these six receivers could prove to be the most effective bunch and it wouldn’t really come as a surprise.
Bama is deep and versatile at tight end, a position that could utilize up to four or five players this season. Maryland transfer CJ Dippre is the most complete tight end of the group, but redshirt freshman Danny Lewis Jr. made a move this spring and is closing the gap fast.
Meanwhile, junior Robbie Ouzts may be the best blocker in the whole room, while sophomore Amari Niblack is perhaps its most gifted pass catcher. Expect to see all of these guys on the field in some capacity.
Alabama Football is fortunate to return four players that started games on the offensive line last year, but the rest of the group primarily consists of new faces. Like the skill positions, the Bama offensive line has some position battles to decide this fall, particularly on the left side.
Alabama Football: Defensive Position Battles
Defensively, it’s a lot of the same story for Alabama Football.
Under Coach Nick Saban, the defensive line is always a deep group that rotates regularly. On the edge, senior Chris Braswell and junior Dallas Turner will lead the way. However, veterans like Quandarrius Robinson and Keanu Koht will push to take snaps from the starters, as will former 5-stars Jeremiah Alexander, Keon Keeley, and Yhonzae Pierre.
If quarterback is the biggest question mark on offense, the inside linebacker duo may be the most critical question on defense. Redshirt sophomore Deontae Lawson has drawn high praise, and has already been dubbed by some as the next great Alabama linebacker.
Who could start next to Lawson? Georgia transfer Trezmen Marshall, JUCO transfer Justin Jefferson, and homegrown sophomore Jihaad Campbell are all heavily in the mix. Much like the tight end group, all of these linebackers will see the field in some capacity, regardless of who starts.
Kool-Aid McKinstry has one cornerback spot locked down, but redshirt sophomore Terrion Arnold and transfer addition Trey Amos are set to engage in a heated battle on the other side of the field. Amos has more overall experience, but Terrion Arnold is the incumbent and the higher-upside player. If Arnold is the future NFL corner he projects to be, he will separate himself in fall camp.
Both safety spots and the star position are up for grabs after Alabama lost Jordan Battle, Brian Branch, and DeMarcco Hellams to the NFL Draft.
A pair of extremely versatile defensive backs, senior Malachi Moore and freshman Caleb Downs, appear to be starters. The only question is where they will primarily play. Other DBs such as senior safety Kristian Story and redshirt freshman star Earl Little II will try to carve out roles in the secondary.
It has been several seasons since Alabama Football featured this much competition in an offseason. In an ideal world, steel will sharpen steel and the entire roster will ultimately benefit from the razor-thin margins between players on the depth chart.