Class of 2020 holdovers to lead Alabama

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama
CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama / Sam Greenwood/GettyImages

As Alabama prepares for the 2024 season, much has changed within the program. Legendary coach Nick Saban is out, and new coach Kalen DeBoer is in, along with a mostly new staff and a fresh approach to running things.

For Bama fans, the three years it has been since the Tide last won a national championship feels like an eternity. In reality, the Tide’s last title is still recent history; recent enough that it will enter the DeBoer era with a few holdovers from that team still on the roster. 

Alabama’s 2020 recruiting class, highlighted by eventual priority NFL Draft picks such as Bryce Young, Will Anderson Jr., and Brian Branch, was a loaded haul. It was ranked as the no. 2 recruiting class in the country, and its members were true freshmen on Bama’s national championship team that season. Many have since transitioned to the professional ranks or transferred to other schools; of the 25 original members, only four remain in Tuscaloosa. 

Malachi Moore, Tim Smith, Quandarrius Robinson, and Jah-Marien Latham all enter their fifth seasons in the Alabama Football program. Though their contributions to this point have varied greatly, all are expected to play critical roles on the 2024 team. The leadership this quartet offers cannot be overstated. 

Together they have seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, at least in the context of Nick Saban’s Alabama program. They’ve seen legends like Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr. come and go, and also shared a locker room with other Bama greats including Devonta Smith, Mac Jones, Najee Harris, and Jaylen Waddle. There is no doubt that they learned a great deal about winning and success from these guys, to say nothing of Coach Saban. That championship DNA still lives within these four players. 

In an interview with Tide 100.9, new wide receivers coach JaMarcus Shephard said that his introduction to Bama’s championship culture was hearing Malachi Moore say that he is “tired of losing around here.” For reference, Moore and his classmates have a career record of 49-6 with a national championship, three SEC titles, three playoff appearances, and a Sugar Bowl win in their four years on campus. 

This is the mindset that can help Alabama usher in the Kalen DeBoer era with another championship. Moore, Smith, Robinson and Latham have all witnessed Bama’s title drought first hand. They are the bridge between Saban and DeBoer, and it would be quite a story if they can bookend their careers with another national championship trophy.