You've heard it. I've heard it. It goes like this:

"Are we going to be able to field a team this fall?"

"We'll be 6-6 DeBoer's first year."

First, if you're thinking of jumping off a bridge because Nick Saban left and a few players hit the portal, it's probably time to reevaluate your life.

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While doing that, check out what a former Saban player who is still on Kalen DeBoer's Alabama team has to say.

Rising junior offensive guard Tyler Booker isn't giving up the ghost. Far from it.

Monday Booker encouraged Tide Nation to stay positive after Saban's retirement,  Alabama's seven-point loss to Michigan in the Rose Bowl and the dawning of the  DeBoer era.

Appearing on The Next Round podcast hosted by Ryan Brown, Jim Dunaway and Lance Taylor, Booker said, "We are seven points away from being where we need to be. And we have the guy and coaching staff that got where we wanted to be. You know what I mean? We're so close.

"That's what I'm just preaching to everybody. That's what we really told each other, and that's why it was so easy for me to stay. Like, 'look guys, we're only seven points away, and we're only going to get better. We're a young team and we're still going to continue to develop.'"

Booker is well aware it's hard to replace departures like star safety Caleb Downs.

"It's really a next-man up mentality," Booker explained. "You come to Alabama to really get developed and really take advantage of the opportunity that's being presented to you. There's a lot of opportunity on the table right now. We have guys capable of stepping up and stepping into those spots, and taking advantage of their opportunity. So that's one. We have the talent in house.

"But obviously the portal works both ways. Once it opens up in the spring, we'll be able to add more additions if need be. But I feel like we have everything in-house that we need to go on another national championship run. Everything is going to work out, so just stay excited for the season, because we definitely are."

Freshman All-SEC
Freshman All-SEC

As for the 10 who jumped ship after Saban left, Booker ‌said there was "a little bit shock and surprise"  on his part.

"We wish them nothing but success," Booker said, "but it's off to the next [stop]. They didn't want to be here. They think they have better opportunities elsewhere, and that's a day and age where anybody who comes in college football can take advantage of the opportunity presented. Of course we wanted you here, but you got to do what's best for you, and we'll do what's best for us."

So what does Booker think of DeBoer and OC Ryan Grubb's offense?

"This offense we're going to inherit from Coach DeBoer is something very different than the SEC, the typical SEC offense," Booker said. "I'm excited to go out and take the field with him and do some new things out there.

"They'll have SEC speed [to work with]now, so I'm very excited to see what they do with it."

Strength is huge too in the SEC. Booker knows this. So far, DeBoer has kept Alabama's strength and conditioning staff in place.

"The thing that I really like about Coach DeBoer is he was like, what made y'all successful?" Booker said. What do we need to keep? What is a tradition piece? What is a culture piece that we need to keep? Because we want to keep things similar but we also want to add some changes as well. But Coach DeBoer has been really receptive to the feedback we've given him about some things that are in place here that need to stay in place."

Moral of the story: Unless you're driving over the Woolsey Finnell Bridge, stay away from it.

2022 Black History Makers of Alabama

Gallery Credit: Mary K


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