Crimson Tide Position Preview: Defensive Line
Each week leading up to Alabama's A-Day game, I will highlight two position groups and preview both the presumed starters and key depth pieces, as well as players that could challenge for a starting role this season. Today, let's look at one of the Tide's deepest position groups: defensive line.
DJ Dale, a senior out of Birmingham, joined the program in 2019 as a four-star recruit from Clay-Chalkville and instantly made his impact felt. In his freshman season, the 6-foot-3, 300 lb. disruptor started in ten games and put up solid numbers before suffering an injury in that would sideline him until 2020. Returning healthy for his sophomore season, Dale was used heavily in the rotation at defensive line, providing excellent pressure and even receiving defensive player of the week honors by the Alabama coaching staff.
Last season, Dale was, again, used in a rotational role but continued to provide excellent pressure from the middle. Heading into his senior year; however, the Alabama native is ready to return to his place as a consistent starter and prove himself.
Another senior upfront for the Crimson Tide, Justin Eboigbe, enters this season with an opportunity to take on a much larger role than before. Joining the program in 2019 as a four-star from Forest Park, GA, Eboigbe saw time in ten games, mostly being used as a rotational defender, but finding two starts. In 2020, the sophomore took on a rotational role again, but was a key depth piece for a nasty Alabama front. Last season, the 6-foot-5, 292 lb. junior remained a rotational player, again providing key depth to a front that, by season's end, was one of the nation's best.
Now, with a chance to take over as a starter, Eboigbe should put together a big-time season.
Byron Young, yet another senior on Alabama's defensive front, features loads of experience very similar to that of his fellow linemen. Since joining the program in 2019, Young has appeared in 41 games, compiling 91 tackles, 17 TFLs and four sacks. 2021 saw Young make an appearance in all 15 of Alabama's games and put together an impressive stat line from his role in the rotation. Through his 15 appearances, Young managed to rack up 39 tackles, 9 nine TFLs, and two sacks as well as provide excellent depth to a stacked unit.
Like his fellow members of the defensive front, Young enters this season with a chance to finally take over as a starter and should perform extremely well in his new role.
Tim Smith, a former four-star hailing from Florida, joined the Crimson Tide in 2020 and now enters his junior season with the chance to solidify himself as a starter. While he began his freshman year buried on the depth chart, Smith worked his way up, eventually becoming a significant piece of the Tide's rotation by the national title game against Ohio State. His sophomore year, Smith took on a slightly larger role, appearing in 15 games and making two starts and recording 24 tackles, 4 TFLs and 1.5 sacks.
Working alongside what could be the most veteran front in all of college football, Smith should be able to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines this year.
Jamil Burroughs, a member of the 2020 recruiting cycle, joined Alabama as a four-star from Georgia and earned playing time in six games as a freshman, recording five tackles. Last season, Burroughs' sophomore year, the Powder Springs, GA native took a slight step back in the rotation, seeing time in just three games, but was still somewhat effective in his time on the field, picking up two tackles and his first career sack.
Now, with many new faces expected to take over starting roles, expect Burroughs to be someone that could potentially compete for a larger role.
Jah-Marien Latham, a Reform, AL native from Pickens County High School joined the Tide in 2020 redshirted in his freshman season. A former four-star now in his second year with the program, Latham will be expected to take on a much larger role in the rotation and provide depth.
While the sophomore is unlikely to take over as a starter in just his second season with the team, Latham could certainly push for significant reps in the rotation and could serve as a key depth piece this season.
Names to Watch
Braylon Ingraham is a 6-foot-4, 295 lb. redshirt junior out of Ft. Lauderdale that could certainly work his way up the rotation this season. In three years in Crimson, Ingraham has seen time in just four games, but has the chance to take on a larger role in 2022. Ranked as the 19th overall player in Florida coming out of high school, Ingraham has a lot of upside that could help him work his way up the depth chart.
Stephon Wynn, Jr.
Stephon Wynn, Jr. came to Alabama in 2018 ranked as the 16th overall prospect in the state of South Carolina, but has been reserved to a role deep in the rotation for most of his time in Crimson. In his first four seasons, Wynn has gone from buried on the depth chart to working his way up to appearing in seven games in 2021.
Tim Keenan III
Tim Keenan joined the Tide in 2021, but redshirted his freshman season and did not see any playing time. Hailing from Birmingham, AL, Keenen was a three-star prospect out of Ramsay High School and features a massive build of 6-foot-2, 343 lbs. While likely not a huge difference maker this year, Keenan provides solid depth.
Monkell Goodwine is another young depth piece that will likely not be a huge difference maker, but provides a safety net at the position. A redshirt freshman that arrived in 2021, Goodwine possesses a great build for a pass rusher as well as versatility in the ability to lineup both inside and out.
Damon Payne, Jr.
Damon Payne, Jr., another redshirt freshman, joined the Tide ahead of last season, but did not see any action in 2021. Payne was a five-star player in the 2021 cycle and was widely considered one of the top in the class. Now, with his chance to see the field, Payne should be a great addition to a stacked defensive unit.