Three non-QB Alabama football position battles could define the 2023 season

Published Jul. 29, 2023, 8:00 a.m.
By Matt Stahl |
The Alabama football quarterback battle is far from over. At SEC Media Days in Nashville, Nick Saban emphasized that, using his grandmother’s cake-making talents as an illustration.
But while that’s the highest profile position on any team, especially when there’s questions around it, it’s not the Crimson Tide’s only place up for grabs during fall camp. Before the Tide take the field on Aug. 3 for the start of preseason camp, here’s a look at who might factor into some of Alabama’s non-quarterback position battles.
Offensive tackle
On the right side, Alabama seems set with JC Latham firmly entrenched in the spot. Latham, who represented the Tide at SEC Media Days, has been listed on multiple all-SEC teams ahead of fall camp.
The left side is more of a question mark, though Saban and company have recruited the spot well. Kadyn Proctor could be a solution at the spot, coming in as a six-foot-seven, 330-pound true freshman from Des Moines, Iowa.
Proctor was the No. 1 ranked tackle in the most recent recruiting class according to 247Sports. However, he’ll have competition for the starting spot at tackle.
Elijah Pritchett, a redshirt freshman who played in two games last season for the Tide, also will factor in. He saw the field against Austin Peay and scored a knockdown block against Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl.
Pritchett was a four-star recruit according to the 247 composite rankings, which rated him as the No. 5 offensive tackle in the 2022 class. He is listed at six-foot-six, 312 pounds.
There’s no questions about Dallas Turner. He’s been one of the top linebackers coming off the edge in the SEC for two years now and could take an even bigger role with Will Anderson’s departure.
It’s the rest of the unit that could be a question mark through camp. Including Anderson, Alabama is swapping out three of its four starters from last season.
Senior Chris Braswell could step up and make a bigger impact in 2023 at the outside linebacker stop opposite Turner. He had 20 tackles along with 2.5 sacks last season, playing in all 13 games.
On the inside, Trezman Marshall looks like a contender for one of the two slots. He transferred in from Georgia during the offseason after making 19 total tackles with a sack last season for the Bulldogs.
Deontae Lawson has waited his turn in Tuscaloosa and could take the starting role as a redshirt sophomore. Lawson played on special teams last season and also earned four starts at linebacker, racking up 51 total tackles and four pass breakups.
Another Crimson Tide transfer at the interior linebacker spots is Justin Jefferson, who joined from Pearl River Community College in Mississippi. He was rated as the No. 2 JuCo prospect in the nation.
Jihaad Campbell could also see significant playing time inside. The sophomore played on special teams last season for the Tide, with some time at linebacker as well, finishing with one tackle in nine games played.
Malachi Moore looks like he’ll be able to slide perfectly into the vacant strong safety spot. He was Alabama’s primary starter in 2020, before slipping down the depth chart his sophomore and junior seasons.
Moore had 31 tackles and five pass breakups last season. He could face competition from redshirt freshman Earl Little II, who showed his talent last season, but suffered an ankle injury and preserved his redshirt.
Freshman Caleb Downs has earned rave reviews since arriving on campus and could slot in at one of the safety positions. He was the No. 1 rated safety in the nation, entering Alabama as a five-star prospect.
Jaylen Key transferred into Alabama as a graduate student after playing four years at UAB. He earned honorable mention all-Conference USA honors in 2022, finishing the year with 60 tackles and three interceptions.
Alabama opens the season Sept. 2 against Middle Tennessee State at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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