Alabama Football: Two sneaky breakout candidates on offense

Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Alabama Football has experienced an incredible amount of flux already this offseason. It overhauled most of its coaching staff after the retirement of Coach Nick Saban, and has navigated through a significant degree of roster shuffling in the days since. 

Bama fans are excited about the Tide’s new-look offense under Coach Kalen DeBoer and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, who produced one of the best offenses in the country at Washington in 2023. 

In addition to the schematic changes, there are plenty of weapons to be excited about.

Quarterback Jalen Milroe might be the most dangerous ball of clay in the country. He was clearly still in the early stages of his development throughout 2023, and still managed to post 3,300+ yards and 35 total touchdowns with multiple game-winning plays and moments. If Grubb is as good as advertised, he might just mold Milroe into the type of quarterback that can absolutely dominate college football in 2024.  

Flanking Jalen Milroe on any given play will be a very promising running back. Jam Miller and Justice Haynes were thrilling in spot minutes last season, and now take over the reins in the Bama backfield.

At receiver, the Tide returns juniors Kendrick Law and Kobe Prentice, as well as sophomore Jalen Hale, all of whom contributed to varying degrees in 2023.

Many Alabama Football fans are most excited about a pair of receivers that haven’t even taken a snap in the Crimson & White. Former Washington receiver Germie Bernard committed to Alabama over the weekend, and figures to factor into the rotation immediately.

Class of 2024 product and former Bama commit Ryan Williams was also on campus this weekend. Should the Tide add him back into its ‘24 class, he could simultaneously be the youngest player on the offense and the most electric.

Alabama Football: Watch out for these sleepers

Clearly, Bama has plenty of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. In addition to the names listed above, keep an eye out for a pair of third-year players who have the potential to make a major impact this fall. 

Junior wide receiver Emmanuel Henderson Jr. and redshirt sophomore tight end Danny Lewis Jr. both joined Alabama Football in the class of 2022. Both have waited patiently, and now could have the opportunity to play significant snaps. 

Henderson Jr. was highly ranked as a running back coming out of high school, but made a fairly seamless transition to wide receiver upon his arrival on campus. He has battled injuries and hasn’t seen the field much at wideout over the past two years, but he has been a fixture on Bama’s special teams units. For what it’s worth, he’s also looked good in scrimmage settings like A-Day, catching a long touchdown pass from Jalen Milroe last spring. If he can stay healthy, he will have a chance to capitalize on the attrition Bama has had at the receiver position and earn some playing time.

Similarly, Danny Lewis Jr. has waited his turn at tight end. Heading into his redshirt freshman season in 2023, there was a lot of buzz around Lewis Jr. Reports indicated that he had improved significantly from year one to year two, and that he would be a big part of the offense. That didn’t quite come to fruition, as Lewis Jr. remained stuck behind more established players like CJ Dippre, Robbie Ouzts, and Amari Niblack.

With Niblack’s recent departure to Texas, there is an opening in the Alabama offense for a pass-catching tight end. Not only is Danny Lewis Jr. talented enough to replace Niblack’s production, he can give the Tide a more complete player in its “flex” tight end role. Incoming freshman Caleb Odom will push for that spot as well. Odom may have higher upside as a pass-catcher, but Lewis Jr. is certainly the more well-rounded and college-ready player at the moment. 

Amidst the roster turnover and shiny new toys in the Alabama offense, these two third-year players have been quietly developing within the program. Look for one, or both of them, to have breakout seasons in 2024.