TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Fourth Quarter offseason conditioning program is under way at the University of Alabama, which means that spring practices are just around the corner for the reigning national champions.
While there are numerous spots in which the starting job still has to be earned, the football program didn’t add too many offensive players on National Signing Day. With the defense more of a priority, especially in the secondary and on the line, the Crimson Tide will only have seven new faces on the other side of the ball.
Here’s an early look at where they might fit in on the offensive depth chart (after arriving), and their jersey numbers in parentheses:
- Starter: Jalen Hurts (2) or Tua Tagovailoa (13)
- Reserve: Mac Jones (10)
Alabama hasn’t added a scholarship quarterback yet, but is looking into the possibility of adding a graduate transfer. Regardless, the competition to start will be the main storyline of the spring.
- Starter: Damien Harris (34)
- Regular contributor: Najee Harris (22) and Josh Jacobs (8)
- Reserves: Brian Robinson (24), Ronnie Clark (5), Jerome Ford (NA), Slade Bolden (NA).
Damien Harris will try to become the first player in Alabama history to reach 1,000 rushing yards in three straight seasons. Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs are slated to also get regular carries, while Robinson mostly played on special teams during his freshman year. Alabama listed Bolden as an “athlete” on National Signing Day, so his position may not be set yet, but he’s the only early enrollee on the offensive side.
- WR (Z): Henry Ruggs III (11), Derek Kief (81), Xavier Williams (NA)
- WR (X): Devonta Smith (6), Tyrell Shavers (14)
- WR (H): Jerry Jeudy (4), Xavian Marks (31), Chadarius Townsend (12), Jaylen Waddle (NA)
Ruggs, Smith and Jeudy all got a lot of playing time as freshmen, and were on the field the most along with Calvin Ridley when Alabama made its second-half comeback against Georgia in the National Championship Game. Don’t be surprised if offensive coordinator Mike Locksley moves everyone around, especially Jeudy. Waddle likely will learn the slot position first, but both incoming freshmen will have a chance to earn some playing time.
- TE: Hale Hentges (84) or Irv Smith Jr. (82), Kedrick James (44)
- TE (H): Smith or Miller Forristall (87), Major Tennison (88), Michael Parker (NA)
Alabama already has good depth at the position so there won’t be a need to rush Parker, who is listed at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds. He needs about 10 pounds to be about same size as Forristall, who is coming off a torn ACL injury.
- LT: Jonah Williams (73), Alex Leatherwood (70), Scott Lashley (76)
- LG: Ross Pierschbacher (71), Joshua Casher (67), Dallas Warmack (59), Tommy Brown (NA)
- C: Brandon Kennedy (56) or another player moves into starter’s role, Chris Owens (79), Emil Ekiyor (NA)
- RG: Lester Cotton Sr. (66), Deonte Brown (65), Richie Petibon (72)
- RT: Matt Womack (77), Jedrick Wills Jr. (74), Scott Baker (78)
Kennedy was second on the depth chart before suffering a season-ending foot injury so for now he’s listed at center, but look for Alabama to try some different options. Ekiyor isn’t due to arrive until the summer. Leatherwood and Wills are both making strong pushes to start.
It will be lost in the Tua talk today but Alex Leatherwood played like a grown ass man against an incredible group of pass rushers last night. True freshman left tackle thrown into the fire after the Williams injury and played at an elite level. Bright future.
— Mike Johnson (@MPJohnson79) January 9, 2018