What’s Next for Alabama Football: Defense
The Rose Bowl was not a highlight reel for the 2023 Alabama defense, especially Michigan's tying and winning drives. And, as well as Kevin Steele's unit performed most of the year, replacements will have to be found at key spots. Here's a look at how things could shape up for the 2024 Alabama defense by position:
It's not known if Justin Eboigbe plans to use his COVID year but most feel he won't. I'd expect his replacement at end to be TAMU transfer LT Overton. Tim Smith has also not commented on his status, but we will assume he's gone for this article.
That leaves a starting front of nose tackle Tim Keenan along with ends Jaheim Oatis and Overton, assuming Smith and Eboigbe leave.
James Smith will be a sophomore if he doesn't portal, and the hope is he won't, because he can push both Overton and Oatis for a starting job.
Neither outside linebacker is expected back. Dallas Turner made it plain after the Rose Bowl he was gone, and Chris Braswell is expected to follow suit. Keon Keeley, who redshirted this year, along with veteran Quandarius Robinson appear to be set to start, though Yhonzae Pierre and Que Russaw could push both.
The inside linebacker slots will likely again be manned by Deontae Lawson and Jihaad Campbell. If he uses his COVID year, Trez Marshall could provide relief.
Both starting corners, Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold, seem to be NFL-bound. Domani Jackson, the USC transfer, should start at one corner. The other likely be Trey Amos.
We know Caleb Downs will be one safety. The other could be a number of guys, but we'll go with Devonta Smith, who was set for playing time this year before an injury. Antonio Kite could contribute early and often at safety or corner. Starter Jaylen Key has used up his eligibility.
The nickel position will be manned by veteran Malachi Moore if he uses his COVID year. If Moore opts to go pro, Kite and Earl Little are possibilities.
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Gallery Credit: Mary K
Who Are the Likely Key Contributors on the '24 Tide defense?