Alabama Football: Three breakout candidates in 2024

Alabama v Auburn
Alabama v Auburn / Michael Chang/GettyImages

Alabama Football is in the midst of an exodus following the retirement of legendary coach Nick Saban, as well as the departures of several key staff members. That exodus isn’t likely to end soon, as Coach Saban’s retirement opened up a 30-day window for Alabama players to enter the transfer portal.

Still, there is plenty of talent expected to remain in Tuscaloosa, including some key returning contributors. The Crimson Tide will need these returners to show stark improvement if it is to uphold its championship standard.  

Quarterback Jalen Milroe returns as the undisputed leader of the offense, while safety Malachi Moore and linebackers Deontae Lawson and Jihaad Campbell will captain the defense. 

Beyond these standouts, Alabama Football has a trio of players in prime position to have breakout seasons.

Junior wide receiver Kendrick Law received increased playing time in his sophomore season. Law served as a gadget player on offense, lining up everywhere from the slot to running back. He is extremely physical, one of the fastest players on the roster, and doubles as a special teams ace. Things are lining up for Law to play a significant role in the Alabama offense in 2024.

With the departures of Jermaine Burton and Isaiah Bond, Law is suddenly one of the more experienced receivers on the roster and has tremendous physical tools. It will be exciting to see how he is deployed in Kalen DeBoer and Ryan Grubb’s offense. 

Senior defensive lineman Tim Smith is one of the most experienced players on the entire roster heading into 2024. Smith has gotten reps with the first-team defense since his true freshman season in 2020, appearing in 46 career games and making 90 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.

He made a career-high 31 stops in 2023, and is slated for a Justin Eboigbe-like breakout campaign in 2024. Perhaps just as important as his on-field contributions will be his leadership role. Smith will be the most veteran member of a very talented defensive line, and is one of just four remaining holdovers from Alabama’s last national championship team in 2020 (Malachi Moore, Quandarrius Robinson, and Jah-Marien Latham).

Senior safety Devonta Smith is also projected to play the biggest role of his career. Smith was a leading candidate to earn the starting role at free safety in fall camp last year before an untimely injury derailed his season. He returned to contribute in a limited role towards the end of the season, but will be counted on to be a reliable starter in 2024. 

Smith has already shown leadership qualities, publicly advocating for new head coach Kalen DeBoer and encouraging his teammates to stay on board.

Devonta Smith has already flashed his talent in the past, and now he is showing the maturity that can make him an All-SEC player in 2024.

Stay tuned to Bama Hammer for the latest updates on coaching staff changes, transfer portal exits & additions, and more!