These Alabama football signees could play immediately under Nick Saban
At several points over the last two years, Alabama football coach Nick Saban has gone out of his way to address what must be a common misconception about UA on the recruiting trail: freshmen don’t play at UA.
Recent examples are all the proof UA needs: Shane Lee, Christian Harris, Evan Neal, Malachi Moore and Will Anderson Jr. in the last two seasons alone. As the 2021 recruiting class became official on Wednesday, there are real candidates in it to keep the tradition going.
Here are five players in the incoming class with a chance at immediate playing time:
CB Ga'Quincy “Kool Aid” McKinstry
McKinstry is a top 20 prospect in the recruiting class and comes in at a position where UA lost a starter with no clear-cut replacement. While Alabama did not have a backup solidify himself as a the obvious No. 3 at the position, it does have plenty of people for McKinstry to pass on the depth chart if he is to take a starting position in his first season.
Jalyn Armour-Davis, Brandon Turnage, Marcus Banks and Jacquez Robinson all arrived to UA as four-star prospects and now have three, two, two and one year of experience in the program, respectively. There is also the possibility of Ronald Williams Jr. being a corner, although he may provide a better fit at safety or slot corner.
UA has plenty of options in searching for a starting cornerback alongside Josh Jobe, but McKinstry is one of them — and he is not alone in the recruiting class in that respect.
CB Khyree Jackson
The East Mississippi Community College product is a plausible pick for the same reasons McKinstry is: UA has a vacancy at cornerback and the 2020 season did not produce an obvious heir apparent.
Jackson also has the added expectation of entering the program as a junior college signee. Saban typically does not go to the junior college ranks without an expectation of immediate contribution. As is the case with McKinstry, Jackson has several players to overtake to make an immediate starting role a reality, but at least the position is open for him.
WR Jacorey Brooks
John Metchie III is likely to have a big role in UA’s receiving corps next year, and Slade Bolden brings a valuable wealth of experience, but beyond that Alabama projects to have a wide open competition for the top places on its wide receiver depth chart.
A highly-touted prospect such as Brooks — the No. 2 receiver in the 2021 class and No. 25 prospect regardless of position — is easy to project as someone who could crash that depth chart.
Brooks will have to beat out Xavier Williams, Traeshon Holden and Thaiu Jones-Bell to do so, especially as an outside receiver given Bolden’s fit for the slot, but his talent suggests it is possible.
WR Christian Leary
Leary is sometimes touted as the fastest wide receiver in the 2021 recruiting class, and now he enters a receiving corps in need of players who can create explosive plays. If Leary can make himself a viable option — especially relative to UA’s veteran presence in the slot, Bolden — there is a path for him to see snap counts similar to those Jaylen Waddle got in 2019.
It may not be a starting role, but it will be one of prominence for a freshman at a loaded position on UA’s roster.
An offensive lineman
The versatile nature of UA’s returning offensive linemen makes it tough to project which position Alabama will need to find a starter at, and thus where a freshman could find an immediate role, but there are players in this recruiting class for any position that may come open.
If Chris Owens takes the tackle spot opposite Evan Neal, then UA will have two interior positions to fill. Center Darrian Dalcourt is a favorite at that position, giving incoming freshman James Brockermeyer a difficult path to immediate playing time, but guard Terrence Ferguson could find himself in a position to take the other guard spot.
If Owens takes over at center or guard, UA has two top tackle prospects in its 2021 class — JC Latham and Tommy Brockermeyer, both among the top five prospects in the entire class and early enrollees — who will be real contenders for that starting spot.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson