Alabama Football transfer portal addition tiers: Fulfilling needs

Oct 7, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Keon Sabb (3) returns
Oct 7, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Keon Sabb (3) returns / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Included amongst Alabama’s incoming transfer class of 14 members, there is a lot of talent and varying degrees of experience. The Tide was able to fill several gaps in the roster following a hectic offseason that included plenty of NFL Draft and transfer portal departures. 

Some members of Alabama’s portal haul are slated to be instant impact players, but the rest of the class may prove to be equally critical to the team’s success. The following three players gained valuable experience at their previous stops, filled major needs for the Crimson Tide, and could very well play vital roles this fall. 

Keon Sabb (S, Michigan)

Sabb probably has an argument to be in the “potential game changers” category. A presumed starter at safety, he will help Alabama try to fill the massive void left behind by Caleb Downs. Sabb was a playmaker at Michigan, and he will bring that experience and instinct to the back end of the Alabama defense. Bama is a clear national title contender if the secondary can play well, and Keon Sabb is one of the key variables that the Tide needs to perform. 

Geno VanDeMark (OL, Michigan State)

VanDeMark was a late spring portal pickup who carries immense value on the Alabama roster. He has experience playing both guard and center, positions at which the Tide lacked depth prior to his arrival. VanDeMark will be the proverbial “sixth man” on this offensive line, and should bring some leadership qualities as well. While Alabama has its starting line pretty much set, the rest of the room is composed entirely of freshmen, so adding another veteran presence was critical. 

DaShawn Jones (CB, Wake Forest)

Jones was another late addition for Bama. The Tide spent the entire spring cycle pursuing corners before landing on DaShawn Jones, who will be asked to step into some pretty big shoes. Given his experience, Jones may be a day-one starter at cornerback, meaning Alabama will be heavily reliant on his ability to acclimate to SEC football. No one is expecting him to be Terrion Arnold, but Jones can’t be a liability on the perimeter if Bama is going to reach its goals. 

Keep in mind that Alabama is still pursuing South Alabama linebacker Khalil Jacobs, and could potentially make one more roster addition heading into the summer.