Alabama football: The future begins to take shape for Alabama’s marquee unit

Welcome to The Rammer Jammer, SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap. Today, we look at Alabama’s factory for defensive linemen. 

No position group has defined the modern era of Alabama football like the defensive line. The otherworldly ability housed across the front is the cog that makes the rest of the historic defenses work. For a decade, it’s been a pass rush that takes no quarter, a run defense that never yields. And as one giant of a lineman graduates to the NFL — almost always to the NFL — another fills his place and seems to perform at an even higher level. This year, with Jonathan Allen gone, its time for Da’Shawn Hand to shine at defensive end, and the junior might be more physically gifted than any of his predecessors.

Looking behind Hand and DaRon Payne, you can glimpse the future of the never-ending supply of defensive linemen that coach Nick Saban directs to Tuscaloosa — quick-footed junior college transfer Jamar King and former 4-star recruit Raekwon Davis, who, at 6-foot-7, 303 pounds, ain’t nothing to mess with. Beyond those players, what does the depth at defensive line look like?

ICYMI

  • Behind that defensive line is a brutalizing linebacker corps, including former No. 1 recruit Ben Davis, who might be making a positional switch after some guidance from Rashaan Evans. 
  • What’s so different about Brian Daboll anyway?
  • You may remember the spontaneous Lighting of Bryant-Denny Stadium with phone flashlights during the fourth quarter of the Iron Bowl last year. It was a cool moment, and one that helped Alabama land a linebacker recruit.
  • Greg Byrne launched his column on Thursday, including an initiative called #RollTideFridays. While the ‘Crimson Column’ name leaves a little to be desired (Byrne Notice???), it is, blessedly, much briefer than the Battle Plan.

Built by Bama

Nearly a half-dozen former players were on hand at Alabama’s practice this week.

Former Alabama head basketball coach Anthony Grant is off to Ohio to take the top job at Dayton. I’m happy for Grant, and I hope this stop works out for him. He’s a good man and a good basketball coach, but he could never put it all together in Tuscaloosa. While the end of his tenure was inevitable, few coaches had such a run of bad luck as Grant, with injuries and transfers and one of his best recruits caught up in a kidnapping scandal.

Around the Capstone

The baseball team hosts Arkansas this weekend in search of its second SEC win. The Razorbacks are the No. 20 team in the country and 20-5 on the season. Alabama is just below .500, at 12-13. The weekend games will be broadcast on the SEC Network. Before the series, read this feature about an Alabama player’s old-school approach at the plate. 

The men’s tennis team is still in search of its second SEC win after losing 4-0 to No. 12 Florida on Thursday. The Tide’s last chance comes against South Carolina this weekend. The women’s team is on the road this weekend to face those same schools.

The softball team hits the road this weekend to take on a struggling Missouri team that is 1-4 in conference. Men’s golf will start the Mason Rudolph Championship in Nashville.

Miss a previous edition? Find every installment of SEC Country’s daily Alabama newsletter right here.