Alabama Football: Kalen DeBoer impresses early with retention & recruiting

Jan 13, 2024; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; The University of Alabama introduced new head football coach
Jan 13, 2024; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; The University of Alabama introduced new head football coach / Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA

Alabama Football Coach Kalen DeBoer has arguably the toughest job in college football, attempting to replace the legendary Coach Nick Saban. 

To kick off the DeBoer era, a week-long insinuation of a “mass exodus” out of Tuscaloosa excited opposing fan bases across the country. However, now that we have had time to take these moves into account and recalibrate, the general consensus is that the initial overreaction was just that.

Sure, Alabama Football was dealt some tough blows, particularly the transfer loss of All-American safety Caleb Downs. Wide receiver Isaiah Bond, tight end Amari Niblack, cornerback Trey Amos, and offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor were also among the starters that opted to transfer. Still, Coach DeBoer’s overall retention of the talented roster Coach Saban left behind in a time of such dramatic change has been impressive. 

DeBoer was able to hold on to not just Heisman contender Jalen Milroe, but essentially all of the valuable commodities from Bama’s 2023 quarterback room. He also kept loads of skill position talent, and perhaps the best offensive guard tandem in the country in Tyler Booker and Jaeden Roberts.

Defensively, he kept the entire front seven intact, including an equally imposing pair of inside linebackers in Deontae Lawson and Jihaad Campbell. The secondary is the only part of the Alabama Football roster with major question marks, and even there the Crimson Tide will not lack for talent. 

Coach DeBoer hitting the trail for Alabama Football

Coach DeBoer has also quickly gone to work in the area in which Coach Saban excelled the most; restocking the cupboard. Coach Saban mastered the art of recruiting, a craft at which DeBoer has not yet proven himself to be elite.

In fact, his recruiting track record was one of the primary talking points for detractors following the announcement of his hiring. So far, however, Coach DeBoer is off to a great start on the recruiting trail. 

He finished strong in the class of 2024, retaining all but two of the signees that Coach Saban had landed and reeling the big fish, 5-star wide receiver Ryan Williams, right back into the boat. 

From there, Coach DeBoer got on the road, quickly familiarizing himself with the state of Alabama, the South as a whole, and the abundance of high school football talent the region has to offer. DeBoer and the new-look Alabama Football coaching staff have turned their attention to the class of 2025, and have already made good impressions with several important targets.  

We’re still less than a month into his tenure, but Coach Kalen DeBoer has already proven some of his doubters wrong and gotten off to a strong start in Tuscaloosa. Many had questions about his ability to sell his program at Alabama, and he has answered those questions early.