Alabama’s 2024 sack leader will be…

2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama
2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

Alabama will have to ensure that its pass rush remains potent as it transitions out of the Coach Nick Saban era. Kane Wommack’s 4-2-5 defense is designed to generate pressure, but who will be the most disruptive member of his first defense in Tuscaloosa?

The easy answer would be redshirt senior Quandarrius Robinson, who figures to start at the Wolf for Alabama. The Wolf is very similar to the edge position at which Alabama has fielded stars like Will Anderson Jr., Dallas Turner, and Chris Braswell in recent years. Going back even further, the outside linebacker position in Coach Saban’s traditional 3-4 produced pass-rushing standouts like Eryk Anders, Courtney Upshaw, Ryan Anderson, Tim Williams, Anfernee Jennings, and Christian Miller.

The Wolf will handle the same edge responsibilities and will have abundant pass-rushing opportunities, so Robinson or even redshirt junior Keanu Koht could rack up sack numbers. I wouldn’t sleep on redshirt freshman Qua Russaw either. The former 5-star didn’t see the field last year but was impressive this spring and could play his way into the rotation. 

Along the defensive line, senior Tim Smith and redshirt junior Tim Keenan III are primed for breakout seasons. Jah-Marien Latham and LT Overton are expected to rotate at the Bandit spot, and could be the most prolific pass-rushers along the line. However, given the run-stuffing propensity of this Alabama defensive line and the regularity with which it will rotate, I don’t see any of Bama’s defensive linemen putting up crazy sack numbers. 

Inside linebackers to feast

With the defensive line wreaking havoc up front, Alabama’s rangy inside linebacker tandem could have a field day this season. Both redshirt junior Deontae Lawson and junior Jihaad Campbell have sideline-to-sideline speed and a nose for the ball. Lawson recorded 3.0 sacks last season while Campbell turned in just 0.5, but I think both players could spend a lot more time in opponents’ backfields this season. 

The inside linebackers in Wommack’s defense at South Alabama last season were highly productive, led by Quentin Wilfawn’s 84 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. Jihaad Campbell could put up similar numbers for the Tide this year. 

Campbell is extremely athletic and can be used as a chess piece by this defensive coaching staff. His versatility and closing speed, in combination with Wommack’s scheme, is why I think he can lead Alabama in sacks in 2024.