When Nick Saban retired as the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, there were a few players who didn’t even wait to see who his replacement was before leaving through the transfer portal. Once Kalen DeBoer took the job, even more players left Tuscaloosa, and after the dust settled, Alabama had 30 outgoing transfers and just six coming in.
Many of the guys leaving were high-impact starters like Isaiah Bond, Amari Niblack, Kadyn Proctor, and even Caleb Downs. Those losses have set up the Crimson Tide for what could be their first season with less than 11 fins since 2010.
While that might seem to be a bleak outlook, the flip side of that coin is the talent that DeBoer kept in the program and how effective he has been over his four-year career as a head coach at catering his system to the strengths of his players. When you play for Kalen DeBoer, you almost always get better.
Just look at how Michael Penix Jr. turned into one of the best quarterbacks in the country at Washington or how Dillon Johnson became a 1,000-yard rusher in his lone season with the Huskies after three years at Mississippi State.
The same thing will happen at Alabama and these five players who stayed loyal, are the most likely to experience an increase in opportunity or productivity under the new coaching regime.
In 2023, no quarterback threw the ball over 20 yards downfield more than Michael Penix Jr. at Washington. Penix attempted 117 of those passes while no other QB attempted over 100, and he completed 50, 11 more than No. 2 Drake Maye. Penix attempted 21.0% of his passes over 20 yards downfield which ranked 18th highest.
Jalen Milroe came in at 11th with 23.7% of his passes traveling over 20 air yards. Milroe completed 35 of his 67 attempts to the deep part of the field, so his efficiency was excellent, but his volume of deep passes will likely increase under DeBoer and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb.
Prentice is likely to be the big beneficiary of Milroe’s increased deep passing attack. As a sophomore, he finished with 18 catches for 314 yards and 177 of those yards came on completions of over 20 yards downfield. Prentice is a true deep threat who saw 30.8% of his 26 targets come on deep throws.
At 5-foot-10 182 pounds, Prentice won’t be able to dominate on contested catches like Rome Odunze did for Washington, but Grubb will utilize his speed and potentially even increase his average depth of target of 15.8 which ranked fourth on the team in 2023.
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