Editor’s note: Coming off its fourth national championship in seven seasons, Alabama returns a ton of talent, and has a great opportunity to repeat as champions in 2016.
Over the next few weeks, SEC Country will take a look at Alabama’s 25 most important players. Obviously, there’ll be coaches and other key members around the program who’ll have a big impact on the team’s success. But this list is strictly for the top-25 players for the Crimson Tide heading into 2016.
24. Jonah Williams
Williams, a true freshman, is one of those players who could shoot up this list during and after the season. It was clear throughout the spring that Alabama’s coaching staff was trying to develop Williams at both tackle spots because there’s a strong chance he’ll have to play this season.
Williams, a five-star offensive tackle out of Folsom, Calif., was considered the second-best player at his position for the 2016 recruiting cycle, according to 247Sports composite.
Williams played right tackle with the first-team offense during the A-Day game, and held his own for the most part. Depending on what happens with Cam Robinson’s legal situation, Williams may have to start at left tackle. If Robinson is back with the team and starting, Williams should be an easy choice at the right tackle spot.
Charles Baldwin, a major player at that spot in spring practice and one of the top-ranked JUCO transfers in the 2016 class, was dismissed from the team in May, adding further urgency to Williams’ development.
Williams and a few other early enrollees had the luxury of participating in bowl practice when Alabama prepared for the national championship vs. Clemson. That game preparation helped accelerate Williams’ learning curve. Combined with his natural abilities and smarts, Williams seems more advanced than your average freshman lineman.
Throughout the spring, Alabama coach Nick Saban and teammates praised Williams for how well he progressed in each practice.
For Alabama’s sake, Williams will need to continue that development because the team may need him this fall.
Coming Friday: A versatile linebacker