Two sleeper candidates to have breakout seasons for Bama Football

Carver High School   s Qua Russaw is shown in Montgomery, Ala., on Sunday August 7, 2022.

Carver High School s Qua Russaw is shown in Montgomery, Ala., on Sunday August 7, 2022. Russaw02 / Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY


Alabama is expected to be very talented on the offensive side of the ball, but it returns very little proven production with the exception of quarterback Jalen Milroe and the offensive line. 

The Tide’s top two rushers and top three receivers in terms of volume have all departed via the NFL Draft or the NCAA transfer portal. That production figures to be replaced with very talented skill players like sophomore running back Justice Haynes and Washington transfer receiver Germie Bernard, among others. 

Still, with the lack of established returnees, there is plenty of opportunity for an offensive weapon to emerge in an unexpected fashion. True freshman tight end-turned-wide receiver Caleb Odom could carve out a role for himself in this 2024 offense. A very fluid athlete at 6’5” and over 215 pounds, Odom brings a physical element that Alabama doesn’t have elsewhere in its receiver room.

Of course, guys like Bernard and Kendrick Law are physically imposing in their own right. Both players are very powerful by wide receiver standards at north of 200 pounds. Additionally, they maintain impressive speed and generally move like much smaller players. In fact, Kendrick Law returned kickoffs for the Crimson Tide last year despite not visually fitting the stereotype for that role. 

Even with these veterans leading the receiver room, Caleb Odom is a different animal entirely. Bama doesn’t have another receiver on the roster over 6’2”, so Odom’s vertical ability alone brings a unique dynamic to the Tide offense. A former high school basketball player, Odom is not only 6’5” but has solid leaping ability and excels at high-pointing the football. 

Will he find a role in the Alabama offense in year one? It’s easiest to project him as a jump-ball threat or a red zone target at this point. If he can play this role alone, he will likely have a significant impact by making a few touchdown catches. There is even a chance that Caleb Odom can quickly acclimate to the wide receiver position and play a more complete role in 2024.


The edge rusher position proved to be very fruitful for Alabama Football under Coach Nick Saban, and was particularly successful over the last five years. Guys like Will Anderson Jr., Dallas Turner, and Chris Braswell were all 5-star recruits at the position who are now playing on Sundays. 

The edge room in Tuscaloosa is still stockpiled with former 5-stars, but is assumed to be led by a pair of veterans. Redshirt senior Quandarrius Robinson and redshirt junior Keanu Koht are both former 4-stars who have patiently waited their turn and developed within the program. These two will have the first opportunity to replace Turner and Braswell, and I expect them to do very well. 

However, Robinson and Koht have not yet had the opportunity to prove themselves in game situations. Robinson saw spot reps on passing downs last year and showed promise, but he has never had a full-time role. The bottom line is that this pair has only tallied 35 tackles and 2.0 sacks in seven combined seasons on campus. 

This means the door is open for one of Alabama’s young, talented pass rushers to find his way into the rotation. Redshirt freshman Qua Russaw could very well be that guy. The former 5-star out of Montgomery looked physically ready to play even in high school, unlike many edge rushers who come to college needing a couple years in the weight room. 

Heading into year two, Russaw had a big spring and may be ready to contribute. If Robinson and/or Koht struggle, or if Alabama just needs some added punch in its pass rush, then Tide fans may see Russaw on the field.