Alabama Football

Forget National Signing Day, Alabama Football is Set for A Long Time

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It’s that time again. The college football world and all of its crazy fans come out of the woodwork to moan and groan over how poorly their team fared in recruiting. For Alabama fans, this year — depending on which side of the crazy meter you fall on — could be looked at as a disappointment being that the Tide finished outside of the top 5 for the first time in 10 years. Now, on the surface, one can surmise that Nick Saban has lost his mojo and the Tide is losing its place atop the mountain of college football. However, if you take a step back, gather yourself, and look at the bigger picture, you will see that Alabama is sitting very nicely with this class, and what it has on its current roster.

Now, I completely understand how Alabama fans and current players feel for the recruits who chose to go elsewhere. Yes, it does appear that competing is an issue — or at least the perception of it — but the reality is that Alabama really doesn’t need a ton this year to be great. Just look at the offense. Alabama has two, yes, two championship caliber quarterbacks in Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa they can roll out on day one and feel completely comfortable with.

For running backs, the addition of Damian Harris — who many (such as myself) thought would leave — is as big of a get as any 5-star back the Tide could have pulled. Now, add him back to the stable that includes Josh Jacobs, Najee Harris, and Brian Robinson, and tell me you’re missing something with that arsenal.

Ok, let’s take a quick glance at the wide receivers. Sure, you’re losing Calvin Ridley, but look at who’s returning: Jerry Jeudy (Calvin 2.0), Devonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III, and Tyrell Shavers to name a few. This doesn’t include the 5-star addition of Jaylen Waddle who many believe will be an immediate game changer.

The offensive line. I could chuckle right here, but I’ll just quickly say the Tide is returning four starters next season, and they’re all pretty darn good.

As for the defensive line, there may be a slight cause for concern just because there’s not a ton of known bodies outside of the returning playmakers, but for those that are returning, the list is very good. Isaiah Buggs could have left and been a probable second round pick, but he’s staying and if he improves only slightly, will be an absolute force on the line next year. Have I mentioned Raekwon Davis yet? No? Ok, the 6-foot-7 mammoth of a man will be bigger, faster, and stronger in his third year, and all I’ll say is God bless to the opposing offensive linemen trying to block him. Also, Quinnen Williams and LaBryan Ray will be very good additions to the rotation. In addition, newcomer, Eyabi Anoma is a 5-star defensive end expected to come in and compete right away.

The linebacker corp is the position that can be very special for the Tide next year. There are so many names that made an impact this year that are returning, and many who were on ice that will be counted upon this year to add to the depth that almost plagued the Tide for two straight years. With Rashaan Evans and Shaun Dion Hamilton departing, players such as Anfernee Jennings, Christian Miller, Jamey Mosley, Dylan Moses, Mack Wilson, and Terrell Lewis will build upon what they did in 2017, and be the glue to this defense in 2018. Oh, I didn’t even mention the 5-star players who didn’t play last year either.

Now, if you’re looking for one position group to make your palms a little sweaty, the defensive backs would be that group. While the talent is absolutely there, it’s the lack of experience that may cause some concern for fans. With Minkah Fitzpatrick, Anthony Averett, Levi Wallace, Ronnie Harrison, Hootie Jones, and Tony Brown all gone, that’s six players who logged significant minutes for the Tide and will be very, very hard to replace. However, Deionte Thompson absolutely showed out in the place of Hootie Jones and is a super star in the making. JUCO product Saivion Smith will immediately fill a void and the huge get of Patrick Surtain Jr., a 5-star DB from Plantation, Florida will more than likely have an impact as well. With that said, I fully expect Trevon Diggs and Shyheim Carter to vie for starting spots. While the road may be long for this group as it seems now, I don’t expect there to be a complete drop off like we saw in 2014 when the Tide could not stop many teams from throwing on them with an overall inexperienced defensive backfield.

Not to leave out special teams, but losing JK Scott is nothing to sneeze about. He was arguably the best punter in the nation his entire career, and his long, booming punts will be missed by Alabama fans. As for a kicker, Andy Pappanastos fared well overall despite his not-so-good showing in the championship game. Good news however, came when Temple graduate transfer, Austin Jones decided to take his talents to Tuscaloosa for his final year of eligibility. His last three years at Temple, Jones converted 37-45 field goals (82%). If nothing else, having quality depth at this position will be critical for Alabama moving forward.

And last but not least, Nick Saban is still the coach at Alabama. He has turned more lemons into lemonade for the Tide in his tenure than one can fathom. It doesn’t matter where their recruiting class placed due to the quality of returning players, and the greatest coach in the game still strutting up and down the sidelines. The Tide will be just fine in 2018 and beyond.

Brandon Williams is the Editor in Chief for Fresh Sports TalkYou can follow him on Twitter @TalkinWithFresh, or “Like” him on Facebook.

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