The Tuscaloosa News will review the Alabama roster by examining each position group entering spring practice. The Crimson Tide held its first spring practice on Friday, March 8 and will resume after the university’s spring break ends on Monday, March 18.
Departed: Jalen Hurts
Starter returning: Tua Tagovailoa
Others returning: Layne Hatcher, Mac Jones
Newcomers: Taulia Tagovailoa, Paul Tyson (both are early enrollees)
Confidence level: 9/10
Starting point: Alabama can feel good about the starter and about the overall depth at this position. Tagovailoa will enter the season as the undisputed starter and one of the nation’s most impactful players. He’s a player to build an offense around and Alabama has the skill position players to maximize his talent. He’s also established as a leader and won’t have to win anyone over during spring or summer.
This is also the first time since perhaps 2016 when the position has been fully stocked. Several players transferred out when Jalen Hurts won the job as a true freshman, leaving Alabama a bit thin at the position at times. It’s a more balanced group now with a junior, redshirt sophomore and three freshmen all on the roster. It can be difficult to keep talented quarterbacks around for several years, but this group looks quite healthy for 2019.
To be determined: Alabama has needed to use its backup quarterback to win big games in both 2017 and 2018, so don’t discount the importance of that position. Mac Jones has seemed capable in his limited opportunities, but this is his first chance to move into the top two positions on the depth chart. Even if he doesn’t have to save the day in a close game, there’s a good chance he’ll see time in a handful of blowouts this fall.
This is also one of several new position groups with a new coach running the show. Steve Sarkisian has experience in the program but none of these players were on the roster during his stint as a consultant and then as an offensive coordinator.