We know who has departed the Alabama football team following the 2015 national championship. We know of eight newcomers – scholarshipped newcomers as a matter of fact – who will be new to the Crimson Tide this spring. That doesn’t mean we know everything as we look ahead to next season.
Some others who were on Alabama’s roster at the end of the 2015 seasonmay have departed. There is the possibility of players who have had medical issues since the end of last season not being able to participate (or being limited) in spring practice.
Alabama will start spring drills next month and conclude with the annual A-Day Game on April 16. Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban will issue a depth chart on the Monday prior to Bama’s opening game against Southern Cal, which will be Sept. 3 in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Meanwhile, we have been working on what we think might be a depth chart (if there was such a thing) for the start of spring practice. It stands to reason that what is likely in mid-March will have changes by mid-August.
We know many who are gone, including two transfers, quarterback Alec Morris and wide receiver Chris Black, not to mention all the seniors; and a couple of juniors who opted early for the National Football League. It was an impressive group of seniors with a record of 50-6, two national championships, and three Southeastern Conference titles.
The starters who have departed are quarterback Jacob Coker, tailback Derrick Henry (and his primary backup, Kenyan Drake), slot receiver Richard Mullaney (and backup Parker Barrineau), fullback (when utilized) Michael Nysewander, center Ryan Kelly, right tackle Dominick Jackson, defensive end Jarran Reed, nose tackle A’Shawn Robinson (and backup defensive linemen D.J. Pettway and Darren Lake), jack linebacker Denzel Devall, strongside linebacker Dillon Lee, middle linebacker Reggie Ragland, cornerback Cyrus Jones (and backup Bradley Sylve), and safety Geno Matias-Smith.
The spring is a time for experimentation and we don’t know if Deionte Thompson and/or Anthony Averett will be at wide receiver or defensive back or Ronnie Clark will be at running back or defensive back. Johnny Dwight could be at nose tackle or tight end, Brandon Greene at tight end or offensive tackle (or both, as he has been the last couple of seasons).
There were a number of walk-on players on the 2015 roster with eligibility remaining who may or may not return this spring, and we have included them in our guess at a spring depth chart if they were on the roster for the Cotton Bowl and College Football Playoff National Championship games.
Cornerback Tony Brown, who was sent home from the Cotton Bowl and also did not play in the College Football National Championship Game, is going to have an opportunity to rejoin the team and perhaps will be able to go through at least part of spring practice, but there will be “some suspension” according to Nick Saban, so we do not yet include him in our spring depth chart.
There are eight early enrollees in the class of 2016 who will participate in spring practice. They are:
Junior college offensive lineman Charles Baldwin (Windsor, Conn./ASA College), linebacker Christian Bell (Hoover), tight end Miller Forristall (Cartersville, Ga.), quarterback Jalen Hurts (Channelview, Texas), defensive back Shawn Jennings (Dadeville), offensive lineman Chris Owens (Arlington, Texas), wide receiver T.J. Simmons (Pinson Clay-Chalkville) and offensive lineman Jonah Williams (Folsom, Calif.).
Alabama returns its specialists in the kicking game other than the return men. Although Bama will work on the kicking game in the spring, those units ordinarily are not completed until fall when all hands are on board. Obviously, the Tide has a number of men who could be electric in the return game, but there is no Kenyan Drake on kickoff returns or Cyrus Jones on punt runbacks. Probably we would insert ArDarius Stewart into the lineup as a kickoff return man and Marlon Humphrey as the onside kick catcher. Quarterback Cooper Bateman has been Adam Griffith’s holder.
In upcoming days we will look at each position (or position group) to see how we think it will play out.
We have previously previewed the quarterback candidates and that will be our first installment.