TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama football brought in another talented recruiting class in the 2018 cycle, but on paper, there doesn’t appear to be too many names who project to make an instant splash on the defensive depth chart.
Guys such as defensive linemen Christian Barmore and Stephon Wynn, along with defensive backs Patrick Surtain Jr. and Saivion Smith, are a few names to look out for.
Here’s an early look at where they might fit on the defensive depth chart (after all of them arrive on campus):
Starters: Raekwon Davis, Isaiah Buggs, Quinnen Williams — OR — LaBryan Ray
Backups: Christian Barmore, Stephon Wynn, Phidarian Mathis, Johnny Dwight
Notes: Barmore is currently listed at 6-foot-5, 290 pounds, but he easily could add more size and strength once he starts working out with Scott Cochran. Even if he doesn’t become a full-time starter, Alabama will need depth behind its top guys. Wynn is currently listed at 6-4, 308 pounds, so he’s another big body who could provide depth early.
Alabama has a lot of talent to replace with Da’Ron Payne, Da’Shawn Hand and Josh Frazier all moving on. The good thing is that Davis will be back to build on a strong sophomore season. Buggs’ return gives the Crimson Tide an experienced and talented veteran. Williams and Ray are young, but both are immensely talented. It’ll come down to finding depth.
Starters: Mack Wilson, Dylan Moses
Backups: Keith Holcombe, Josh McMillon, Markail Benton
Notes: This is a really intriguing duo because both showed an ability to make plays when they were healthy last season. Wilson led the team with 4 interceptions. Moses posted double-digit tackles in the two games (Mercer, Auburn) he started. Both Wilson and Moses dealt with foot injuries. If they’re healthy, Wilson and Moses have the talent to be one of the top linebacker duos in the country.
Starters: Anfernee Jennings, Christian Miller –OR– Terrell Lewis
Backups: Eyabi Anoma, Jordan Davis, Cameron Latu, Jarez Parks, Jamey Mosley, Chris Allen, VanDarius Cowan, Ben Davis
Notes: This group dealt with an unthinkable amount of injuries in 2017, so it’s hard to truly evaluate them. If Jennings, Miller and Lewis can stay healthy next season, look out. Alabama could rival some of the sack numbers the team posted in 2015 and 2016.
Starters: Saivion Smith, Trevon Diggs, Shyheim Carter (star)
Backups: Patrick Surtain Jr., Jalyn Armour-Davis, Josh Jobe, Jared Mayden, Nigel Knott, Kyriq McDonald
Notes: Surtain is a really intriguing prospect who could have a Minkah Fitzpatrick-type impact as a freshman. Fitzpatrick was basically a three-year starter during his time at Alabama.
Smith, a junior college transfer, is a big key to the 2018 secondary. He must be able to step in and contribute immediately.
Diggs earned a starting spot at the beginning of the 2017 season, but struggled and was replaced by Levi Wallace. To be fair, Diggs was still new at the position, so a full year of working at corner should help him next season.
Carter seems like an easy fill-in at star considering he has stepped in quite a bit during his first two seasons.
Guys such as Mayden, McDonald and Knott have a chance to compete for a starting spot as well, given all the turnover in the secondary.
Starters: Deionte Thompson, Daniel Wright –OR– Xavier McKinney
Backups: Eddie Smith, Keaton Anderson
Notes: Thompson played lights out in the College Football Playoff after stepping in for the injured Hootie Jones. That experience will be huge as Thompson steps into a bigger role heading into his senior year.
Wright and McKinney both flashed as freshmen and should compete for the other starting spot. Depending on what Alabama thinks it needs, we could see some of the cornerbacks switched to safety. Mayden is a guy who’s worked at both safety and corner.