Alabama Football: Redshirt freshmen set to have breakout seasons?

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football has talent all over its roster, and players from all classifications are competing for playing time and starting positions in fall camp. The Crimson Tide has a handful of players that came to Tuscaloosa in the class of 2022, but did not play enough last season to burn a year of eligibility. Some of these players could have breakout seasons this fall.

Defensive back Earl Little II was a 4-star recruit and a top-100 overall player in the 2022 class. He was limited by injuries in year one, but looks to be a contributor as a redshirt freshman this fall. Little II looked really good in the spring, including making a highlight reel interception on A-Day that saved a touchdown.

He is competing for time at the star, where he will likely play behind senior Malachi Moore to open the season. Earl Little II is instinctive and versatile enough to play a role on the back end of the Alabama defense in 2023.

Elijah Pritchett was a 5-star recruit coming out of Columbus, Georgia, but a pectoral injury cost him the majority of the 2022 season. Heading into 2023, he is in a heavyweight battle with true freshman (and fellow former 5-star) Kadyn Proctor to be Alabama’s starting left tackle. Proctor appears to have a slight edge at the moment, but the competition is far from over. At the very least, Pritchett should be a critical depth piece at both of Alabama’s tackle spots.

Danny Lewis Jr. may have the biggest impact of this group in 2023. Lewis Jr. was a 3-star recruit and was ultimately the lowest-ranked high school prospect in Bama’s 2022 recruiting class. Regardless, he has made big moves this offseason and looks to be a major component of the Alabama offense this season.

Under new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, Bama is expected to utilize its tight ends more often, and it has at least four capable players in the room. Maryland transfer CJ Dippre and Lewis Jr. look to be at the top of the depth chart as of now. Danny Lewis Jr. is a well-rounded tight end who Rees can deploy in a variety of ways, and should be on the field a lot this fall.

The most intriguing player in this class is undoubtedly quarterback Ty Simpson. The former 5-star is locked into a highly publicized quarterback competition along with redshirt sophomores Jalen Milroe and Tyler Buchner.

Should Simpson win the job, he would instantly become the most important member of the redshirt freshman class. However, Milroe appears to have the current edge, and the possibility exists that Simpson assumes a backup role and doesn’t see the field much in 2023.

A handful of other redshirt freshmen on the Alabama Football roster have shown lots of promise, but are currently stuck behind waves of older and more experienced players that are equally talented.

Former 4-star defensive lineman Khurtiss Perry is a high-upside player who was considered the no. 2 player in the state of Alabama in the 2022 class.

Another former 4-star, inside linebacker Shawn Murphy, appears to be behind at least four players on the depth chart. Junior Deontae Lawson, sophomore Jihaad Campbell, transfer Trezmen Marshall, and JUCO product Justin Jefferson are all very impressive and will likely make up the 2-deep at ILB.

Jeremiah Alexander was a former 5-star recruit on the edge, and should eventually be a difference-maker. In 2023, Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell are expected to man the edge positions, backed by veterans Quandarrius Robinson and Keanu Koht. Alexander also has to fend off two more 5-stars in summer enrollees Keon Keeley and Yhonzae Pierre.

Safety Jake Pope flashed on A-Day, but will likely sit behind older players this fall. The same goes for Shazz Preston, who was a highly-touted 4-star receiver coming out of high school.

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All of these redshirt freshmen could be major contributors for Alabama Football down the road, but a couple will make an impact as early as this season.