Top Alabama Football Questions, No. 8: Position Change Up Front?
Alabama football fall camp began on Monday afternoon after several weeks of uncertainty about the viability of this college football season. Many questions about testing, player safety, a college football semi-bubble, etc. have yet to be answered, but this series will focus on the most pressing on-field questions for the Crimson Tide in 2020.
8. "With the young depth you have on the defensive line and the lack of experience at outside linebacker, did you ever consider having LaBryan Ray take some reps at outside linebacker like he did as a freshman?"
It's not uncommon for Saban for train players at multiple positions to help develop quality depth. Many of his defensive backs and offensive linemen can play at more than spot, and he's even been known to train players on different sides of the ball, like wide receiver DeVonta Smith taking reps at corner.
Back in his 2017 as a true freshman, 5-star defensive lineman LaBryan Ray practiced with the outside linebackers while several of them were sidelined with injury. He's always been one of the lighter D-linemen on the team, so losing the necessary weight might not be too difficult.
The D-line is far more experienced than the outside linebackers entering 2020. Sophomores D.J. Dale, Justin Eboigbe and Byron Young all started at least one game and contributed to the rotation last year, and redshirt sophomore Christian Barmore is a popular breakout candidate this season after consistently making impact plays. Ray is the veteran of the group, but a foot injury last September ended his first season as a starter.
Both of last season's starting outside linebackers, Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis, are now in the NFL. That leaves redshirt junior Christopher Allen and a lot of inexperience behind him. Fifth-year senior Ben Davis could finally have his time, or maybe high-upside sophomore King Mwikuta has developed enough to earn a bigger role. If not, true freshmen Will Anderson, Chris Braswell and Drew Sanders could factor into the competition, too.
Check back this evening for No. 7, a question about the team's weakest position group from a season ago.