Alabama Football: Candidates to emerge in spring practice

Berkeley Prep 2023 Edge Rusher Keon Keeley

Berkeley Prep 2023 Edge Rusher Keon Keeley 1024x681
Berkeley Prep 2023 Edge Rusher Keon Keeley Berkeley Prep 2023 Edge Rusher Keon Keeley 1024x681 / Lori Schmidt / Columbus Dispatch / USA

With spring practice set to commence on Monday, March 4th, Alabama Football will finally begin the Kalen DeBoer era in an official capacity.

This should be an eventful spring for Bama, who has undergone a coaching staff overhaul and has a lot of new pieces on its roster. At some positions, such as running back, inside linebacker, and defensive line, Alabama has qualified returnees and its starters are all but solidified. However, competition will be taking place all over the field for the Crimson Tide.

Other position groups are wide open for the taking, including offensive tackle, Wolf (edge rusher), cornerback, and safety. There are boundless opportunities for players to step up and really break out in spring practice.

Redshirt sophomore Elijah Pritchett is Bama’s most experienced returnee at the tackle position. He had some struggles in 2023, but he was also a redshirt freshman coming off of a serious injury. Where is Pritchett in his development, and how much can he improve from last year to this year? If he looks a lot more like the 5-star recruit he was in high school, he can lock down the starting left tackle spot and solidify a major point of concern for the Tide. 

Redshirt freshman edge Keon Keeley is back for year two after hardly seeing the field in 2023. Keeley was a top-5 recruit nationally in the class of 2023 and is one of the highest-regarded prospects on the entire roster. With Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell moving on to the NFL, Keeley can potentially be next in a long lineage of dominant pass rushers at Alabama. He will have to beat out older players like Quandarrius Robinson and Keanu Koht, as well as fellow 5-stars Yhonzae Pierre and Qua Russaw, to make it happen this fall. 

Sophomore safety Tony Mitchell also returns for his second season in the program. Mitchell withstood a tumultuous first offseason at Alabama, presumably doing all the right things to get back in the good graces of Coach Nick Saban. With a clean slate under Coach Kalen DeBoer, Mitchell should be ready to focus on football.

At 6’2” and well over 200 pounds, he is a versatile defensive back and one of the most impressive athletes on the team. Mitchell will be in the thick of a heated competition for three safety spots in the 4-2-5 defense. Veterans Malachi Moore and Devonta Smith will likely seize starting roles, leaving a potential starting spot for Mitchell along with Michigan transfer Keon Sabb, sophomore Bray Hubbard, and others. 

It’s tough to predict which players will emerge for Alabama Football in spring practice, but Elijah Pritchett, Keon Keeley, and Tony Mitchell all have the talent and opportunity to develop into key pieces for the Crimson Tide in 2024.