|TideSports College Football Preview|
Returning starters: Raekwon Davis
Starters lost: Quinnen Williams, Isaiah Buggs
Raekwon Davis (55 tackles, 1.5 sacks in 2018 after posting 69 tackles and 8.5 sacks in the 2017 season) is the experienced player in a young but promising group. LaBryan Ray (39 tackles, six behind the line of scrimmage) was limited by a foot injury in 2017, but came on strong at the end of the 2018 season. Both still have very high potential and have not reached the ceiling yet. Freshman D.J. Dale, who was an early arrival and had a strong spring, has continued that in August although he was limited for a time due to a knee sprain.
NEWCOMER TO WATCH
D.J. Dale has gotten rave reviews from observers since the spring, although Nick Saban has been cautious as always with freshman praise. Another freshman, defensive end Justin Egboigbe, has also had a strong August camp and a third freshman, Byron Young, has shown promise as well.
YOU NEED TO KNOW
There is also some mature depth with Phidarian Mathis and Tevita Musika in the middle. Stephon Wynn adds depth at end but has missed August time with an ankle injury.
Saban’s most effective Alabama defenses have had solid rotations in the front three and the line positions were clearly a priority in recruiting. The numbers appear to be present but a strong individual — perhaps not at a Quinnen Williams level but a passable impression — will be the key.
Alabama has had a defensive lineman selected in the first round of the NFL Draft for three consecutive years (Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Quinnen Williams)
“I think you’re going to see a lot of new faces out there. But it’s our job to prepare those guys to get them ready to do it. … I think they’re in a better situation than they have been because they have some older guys in that room that are going to help them. Obviously, Coach (Brian) Baker does a great job with them, but I think they’ve got some older guys in that room that are going to help the development process.”
— defensive coordinator Pete Golding