Alabama Football: Experimentation & Position Changes in early spring

Florida v Alabama
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Alabama Football is now two practices into the 2024 spring session, and there is plenty of refreshing optimism coming out of the program. Under head coach Kalen DeBoer, there is a lot of “new” that we all must get acclimated to; fans, media members, and returning players alike are all in the early stages of this transition period into a new chapter of Bama football. 

Coach DeBoer and his staff are adjusting too. This coaching staff has a loaded roster from a talent perspective, but consists of a lot of moving pieces including returnees, early enrollees, and transfer portal additions. With this group hitting the field as one for the first time, the staff will need some time to experiment and try different combinations of players at certain position groups. So far, there have already been some interesting developments. 

Redshirt freshman Keon Keeley was one of the best players in the class of 2023 regardless of position, coming to Alabama as a 5-star edge rusher. While the presumption may have been that he would play the Wolf position in Kane Wommack’s defense, it appears that he will instead play the Bandit. 

While the Wolf is more of a traditional edge (hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker), the Bandit is much closer to a true defensive lineman. This “big end” position will require the dual ability to rush the passer effectively and be stout against the run.

Keeley is one of the most impressive raw athletes on the roster, and has the frame to add significant weight that could better serve him at the Bandit position. If he can do so, and if the coaching staff can tap into his immense potential, Keon Keeley can eventually be a freak on the Alabama defensive line. 

Coincidentally, redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Alexander is also a former 5-star edge that will likely be playing elsewhere. Alexander came out of Thompson High School in the class of 2022, and bounced back and forth from edge to inside linebacker in two years under the Coach Saban regime.

Although the first week of March is way too early to know for certain, early spring practice returns have Alexander tabbed as an inside ‘backer in Wommack’s 4-2-5. Surely, Wommack and the rest of the defensive staff are pleased to have so many talented and versatile pieces to move around. 

Lastly, there is a new addition to the Bama receiver room. True freshman early enrollee Caleb Odom, who comes to Tuscaloosa as one of the highest-rated tight ends in the class of 2024, looks like he will play wide receiver for the Crimson Tide. Odom is a fluid athlete at 6’5”, and can give the Tide a presence on the perimeter that it has lacked in recent years. 

Coach DeBoer and company will likely continue to experiment throughout spring and the rest of the 2024 offseason as they work to put the best possible product on the field this fall.