The Spring Prospectus is a daily series taking a quick look at each position group before UA beings spring practice. This list of position groups will be updated with links as each one posts: quarterback, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, inside linebackers, outside linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties and special teams.
There were multiple reasons why Alabama’s 2019 defense finished 43rd in the nation in yards per carry allowed, its worst finish of the Nick Saban era. Among those reasons: a defensive line that was forced to have an eight-man rotation made up of four freshmen, with one starting at nose guard.
New defensive line coach Freddie Roach will have a much more experienced unit on his hands than the one Brian Baker was given in his one year as UA’s defensive line coach. Roach’s job will be to develop that experience into better play, beginning with spring practice on March 13.
Top returners: LaBryan Ray (starting defensive end before season-ending foot injury) and D.J. Dale (stared 10 games as a true freshman).
Losses: Raekwon Davis (missed only the Western Carolina game, 47 tackles and five quarterback hurries) and Tevita Musika (16 tackles as a rotation player).
Returning depth: Phidarian Mathis, Byron Young, Justin Eboigbe, Christian Barmore, Braylen Ingraham, Ishmael Sophser, Stephon Wynn Jr.,
Early enrollees: None. Timothy Smith, Jah-Marien Latham and Jamil Burroughs will enroll over the summer.
UA will be more experienced in all facets. Ray’s return gives the Crimson Tide a true veteran at defensive end, but Young and Eboigbe got experience last season in taking over for Ray after three games.
Dale will also benefit from the 10 games of experience he gained last season. Mathis is a useful piece in that he can play both inside and outside, doing both last season and can fill whatever need UA needs on the line.
Barmore is the player to watch in the position group in spring practice. As a redshirt freshman in 2019, he found a role midway through the season as an interior pass-rush specialist in Dime packages. If he develops his run-stopping ability, he will quickly become a mainstay on UA’s defensive line.
UA could use that from Barmore with Davis and Musika gone; Musika was a tackle by trade, and Davis picked up the position to help UA fill the void of Dale after his injuries.