Alabama Football: Who will emerge at Bandit?

Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

One of the more intriguing positions to watch as Alabama transitions to Kane Wommack’s 4-2-5 scheme is the Bandit. The Bandit will essentially function as a strongside defensive end in Wommack’s system, and will have to display enough versatility to handle business in the trenches while also setting the edge on occasion. 

Bama figures to rotate a pair of veterans at the spot in 2024. Redshirt senior Jah-Marien Latham is one of the oldest players on the roster, but has not generated a lot of production in his time in Tuscaloosa. Last season, Latham was a regular rotational piece on the Alabama defensive line and enjoyed his best season yet, playing in every game and recording 8 tackles with 1.5 sacks. 

Undersized by defensive line standards, Latham uses his quickness to get around opposing offensive linemen and has always been a promising pass rusher. This will be the first season where he will be asked to play a major role on the defensive front. Can he hold off all of the young talent behind him?

Texas A&M transfer LT Overton comes to Alabama having played significant snaps at the SEC level. Overton recorded 48 tackles and 3.0 tackles for loss in his two seasons with the Aggies. Though he is two years younger than Latham, he is by far the more experienced player in terms of getting snaps and generating production in meaningful games. 

Additionally, the argument could be made that he beat out better competition to get on the field at such a young age. Very few teams can say their talent compares to Alabama at any position (especially in the trenches), but Texas A&M recruited exceptionally well along the defensive line under Jimbo Fisher. In fact, Overton was just one of five 5-star defensive linemen the Aggies landed in the 2022 cycle alone. Now, he comes to Tuscaloosa as one of the more seasoned defensive linemen on the roster and will attempt to push for a starting role. Look for both Latham and Overton to get plenty of playing time, at least early on. 

Behind the two vets, youngsters Jordan Renaud and Keon Keeley will look to make the most of spot opportunities. Keeley, a redshirt freshman, may need some time to gain weight and acclimate to being a true defensive lineman. If he can get on the field, however, I expect him to flash the freakish athleticism that made him the no. 3 overall player in the 2023 recruiting cycle. Though he was an edge coming out of high school, he technically surpasses fellow former 5-stars LT Overton and Tim Smith as the most decorated recruit on the entire defensive line. 

Renaud might be more prepared to make an impact this fall. The former 4-star is also entering his second season in the program, but he made the transition to defensive line and started training accordingly as soon as he stepped on campus. This gives him about a year’s head start on Keeley in terms of learning the position and making sure he is prepared for its physical demands.

It may take some time for the Bandit position to become a strength for Alabama. Given his 5-star pedigree and the fact that he has already proven himself as a quality SEC defensive lineman, I expect LT Overton to eventually emerge at this spot.