What we learned from the Alabama football depth chart and what it could mean

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

The image of what the Alabama football team might look like come Saturday against Miami is becoming more and more clear. 

The Crimson Tide released a depth chart Monday, giving a look at who the top players are at each position. Of course, coach Nick Saban made sure to provide a disclaimer: 

"You all have a depth chart now, so you should be really, really happy with that," Saban said, "even thought it may not be 100% relative to injuries or anything like that." 

Even though it's not guaranteed the 22 players who start the game are the same 22 listed at the top of each spot, for the most part the depth chart still gives a good idea of what to expect. 

Also of note, the depth chart doesn't list "or" as some depth charts do for players that are considered on the same level or co-starters. The Alabama depth chart just uses a slash instead. 

Here's what stood out from the two and three deep look at the roster: 

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Offense

  • Bryce Young did in fact get the nod for the starting quarterback job. That's not a shock. Of note is that Paul Tyson is listed ahead of freshman Jalen Milroe as the backup. 
  • Expect a fair share of different faces at running back this year. Hillcrest grad Brian Robinson Jr. gets the nod as the starter, as expected, but the other three running backs behind him, Jase McClellan, Trey Sanders and Roydell Williams, have a slash between them. 
  • Ohio State transfer receiver Jameson Williams is slotted in as the starter at the Z receiver spot. His speed should be a nice addition to the offense. 
  • The freshman receivers seem to have made a strong impression. JoJo Earle is listed as a co-starter with veteran Slade Bolden at the H receiver position, and Christian Leary is a backup. Agiye Hall is listed as a backup at X while Ja'Corey Brooks is a backup at the Z position. "You can tell when they came in they were guys that were really experienced at the high school level," Young said of the freshmen. "You can tell how they came in, they came with a lot of talent, they made a lot of plays early. We're all super excited about the young group of receivers." 
  • Tight end Jahleel Billingsley still appears not to have worked his way back up the depth chart, as Saban's message to Billingsley on Aug. 21 indicated. The junior tight end is listed as a backup alongside Major Tennison with Cameron Latu the starter. 
  • The offensive line looks fairly solidified, or as Saban put it, intact. The only co-starters listed are Chris Owens and Darrian Dalcourt at center. That's one position to watch to see who goes out with the first group Saturday. 

Defense

  • If the depth chart is any indication, there's going to be plenty of rotation on the defensive line, as expected. Both defensive end spots have co-starters and DJ Dale is the starter at nose guard. LaBryan Ray, who Saban said early in preseason practices was dealing with a significant groin injury, is listed as a backup at one defensive end spot. 
  • Transfer linebacker Henry To'o To'o officially received the starting nod. All throughout the offseason, his coaches and teammates have been raving about him, so it's not shocking, but it looks all but official that he will start Saturday at the Mike linebacker spot after spending the past two seasons with Tennessee. 
  • Jalyn Armour-Davis gets the nod for the starting cornerback spot opposite Josh Jobe. This past Wednesday, Saban noted that Armour-Davis had been a little banged up, so his availability will be something of which to keep track heading into the game. But for now, he's earned the starting job if the depth chart is any indication. Kool-Aid McKinstry and Khyree Jackson are listed as his backups. 
  • Safety DeMarcco Hellams is still recovering from a sprained ankle and is questionable for the game, per Saban. Brian Branch is listed as a co-starter at the free safety spot with him and at the star spot with Malachi Moore. 

Special teams

  • The Aussie, James Burnip, won the punting job, it appears. Troy transfer Jack Martin is listed as a backup at placekicker and punter. Depending on how Burnip performs, this could always change. 
  • Earle also is a co-starter with Bolden at punt returner. "We're all really excited to see JoJo, and he's been doing a lot and he's been working really hard," Young said. "We all kind of notice that and see the professionalism he's coming with and so we're excited for that." 
  • It will be interesting to see what Alabama does with kickoff returns. It lists Williams and McClellan as co-starters and then Sanders and Bolden as backups.