New starters on the inside and youth among the back-ups remain question marks. But if they stay healthy, both defensive ends will get a shot at pro football.
Depth will certainly be key, but Defensive Ends Coach Paul Randolph is frankly more than happy with his two projected starters. Barring injuries, both Antwan Odom and Nautyn McKay-Loescher could earn all-star status, and the two are eager to get started.
"Both Antwan and Nautyn have been waiting for it to be their time," Randolph said. "They welcome it. Those two have the ability to reach that next level. They'll definitely work hard to continue the tradition of Alabama defense."
Odom's talent is no secret. Tall, strong and fast, he is a prototype defensive end. Last year's seniors reported that in their interviews with NFL teams, Odom's name invariably came up. So the big junior is well known already among pro scouts.
Big things have been predicted for Odom. So what will it take to reach All-Star status?
Randolph shared his thoughts. "For Antwan to get to that level he's got to keep doing what he's doing. It's his time now. Those other guys are gone, so it's his show now. I know he's ready and fired up.
"He's got to have a great summer conditioning-wise, which will allow him to run all over the football field. If he continues to do that he's going to be an all-star."
Odom and McKay-Loescher essentially shared the starting job last season opposite Kindal Moorehead. Odom's 10 sacks led the Tide team and ranked second in the SEC. He also contributed 42 tackles, four behind the line of scrimmage, and 11 quarterback pressures.
Randolph and Odom discussed his season goals last winter, and the quiet junior is aiming high. He told Randolph that he wants to be remembered as one of the best defensive linemen to play for Alabama.
"Antwan's all-star status starts with him setting goals," Randolph said. "He needs to get stronger in the lower body. He's working on his speed."
"‘What do you want to be?' I asked Antwan last winter.
"‘An All American' was his reply.
"‘Well, let's get there' was my challenge."