5 Alabama football position battles to monitor as spring practice begins
While Alabama basketball is in the midst of a March Madness run, Alabama football is starting to ramp up, too.
Spring practices begin Monday. The Crimson Tide will hold 14 practices before the A-Day spring game at 2 p.m. on April 22 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Like every season, there are position battles to be expected. Some groups have more competition than others, but as is always the case under coach Nick Saban, every starting spot will have to be earned.
Here's a look at some of the position battles to monitor this spring.
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Let's start with the one most will be talking about through the spring and into the summer. With the departure of Bryce Young to the NFL Draft, Alabama is left with a colossal hole in football's most important position.
The options to fill the spot are intriguing. There's Jalen Milroe, who spent all of 2022 as Young's backup. In his limited time filling in for Young, Milroe showed exciting athleticism but some turnover problems. Over the game and a half in which he served as the starting quarterback, Milroe was inconsistent as a passer but a problem for defenses with his ability to run.
Then there's Ty Simpson, who will be a redshirt freshman and saw limited minutes at the end of blowouts. He's got the pedigree, though, as a five-star quarterback coming out of high school, per the 247Sports Composite.
Alabama also has freshmen Eli Holstein and Dylan Lonergan in the fold.
The departure of Henry To'oTo'o and Jaylen Moody leaves some openings in the middle of the defense.
A logical replacement will be Deontae Lawson, who saw time there last season as Moody was dealing with injuries. But the Crimson Tide will have plenty of options inside.
Alabama added Trezmen Marshall from Georgia in the transfer portal. It also brought in Justin Jefferson, a former junior college player.
"He's doing a great job in our linebacker group," To'oTo'o said of Jefferson at the Sugar Bowl.
There's also redshirt freshman Shawn Murphy and junior Kendrick Blackshire in a group that should have solid depth no matter how it shakes out.
Kool-Aid McKinstry at one cornerback spot is close to as a sure thing as Alabama has right now. He's quite good. The question is: Who will start opposite him?
It might be Terrion Arnold again, who has another year under his belt and had some ups and downs last season. Or perhaps Alabama goes with Earl Little II, a sophomore who has intriguing potential.
There could be another player to emerge such as Jahquez Robinson or a freshman.
Gone are Tyler Steen, Emil Ekiyor Jr. and Javion Cohen. But Alabama appears to be in good shape on the offensive line.
The Crimson Tide has a variety of options and combinations. It would make sense for JC Latham to move to left tackle as he was elite on the right side. Tyler Booker figures to play a role as he flashed strong potential as a freshman. At center, Alabama is also fortunate to have two experienced options in Darrian Dalcourt and Seth McLaughlin who could also be used at guard spots if Alabama saw fit. Then there are other intriguing players such as five-star freshman Kadyn Proctor, sophomore Elijah Pritchett, redshirt sophomores Terrence Ferguson and Jaeden Roberts, and more.
With all the options Alabama has, it should end up with a solid starting five.
Veteran Jase McClellan figures to be at the front of the pack, but it will be interesting to see how running back snaps and carries end up being distributed.
Roydell Williams is back as another experienced option. Then there's Jam Miller, a sophomore around whom there was buzz last season. Justice Haynes also brings intrigue as a five-star freshman who impressed Alabama players right away during the Sugar Bowl.
"He is one of those guys where we look at him and we’re like, 'He’s going to be a great player,' " To'oTo'o said.
The running back room figures to have solid competition now and moving forward.