MOBILE, Ala. – Alabama football will have a very different looking roster in 2023 than it did in 2022.
Gone are some elite Crimson Tide players. A large contingent follows the NFL; Five starters have declared offense for the draft, and most of the starting defensemen have done the same.
That leaves ample opportunity for new and remaining talent to step up in 2023.
At this week’s Senior Bowl, The Tuscaloosa News asked several former team members to watch players in 2023. Those promoted include offensive linemen Tyler Steen and Emil Ekiyor Jr., defensive tackle DJ Dale, defensive end Byron Young and safety DeMarcco Hellams.
Here are some of the names mentioned by several players.
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JC Latham, offensive lineman
He’s no stranger, but it’s clear his former teammates are expecting big things in Latham’s second year as a starter.
“I think JC Latham is a guy everyone has to watch out for,” Young said. “A lot of fans and such probably won’t see him, but scouts (will) do.”
Latham started in right tackle last season, but a move to left could make sense if Steen moves to the NFL.
“It would be a seamless transition for him,” Steen said. “This guy is able to play at a very high level on both the right and left. That probably won’t be a problem for him.”
Jaheim Oatis, defensive tackle
Dale: “Jaheim Oatis is going to be great.”
Young: “I think he’s going to be something special. He’s so big, but he can move so well for his size. He came ready to learn and work.”
Oatis was a co-starter with Dale in defensive tackle as a freshman.
Isaiah Bond, recipient
Ekiyor: “That’s a guy. He’s quite talented… Just a playmaker. I think it comes naturally to him. Takes the lead off defense but also a dodgy guy who can catch bubbles and screens and stuff like that and make things happen.”
Bond, also mentioned by Young as a player to watch, will be a sophomore in the fall. He started in one game in 2022 and caught 17 passes for 220 yards on a touchdown over the course of the season.
Malachi Moore, defense attorney
Hellams: “Malachi, he works hard. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever encountered. His playstyle really allows him to be, free, strong, star, he really is one of the most versatile guys in secondary school.”
Dale also brought up Moore, who will be entering his fourth season at the secondary school.
Young running backs
Ekiyor: “Jamarion Miller did really well throughout practice. Throughout the season. I think he’ll probably take the next step this year and get into the rotation.”
Young: “The newcomer that comes in, Justice Haynes, I think he’s going to be a special player.”
Dale: “The running back room is going crazy.”
Haynes is a five-star early bird in the 2023 class. Miller will be a sophomore running back who was aiming for two touchdowns in 2022. They will join veteran running backs Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams in the backfield. Alabama also signed four-star running back Richard Young in the class of 2023.
Other names are mentioned at least once
Alabama players at the Senior Bowl praised many teammates, and the list was not short. Players also brought in included offensive lineman Tyler Booker, receivers Ja’Corey Brooks and Kobe Prentice, cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry, linebackers Dallas Turner, Chris Braswell and Deontae Lawson, and defensive lineman Tim Smith and Justin Eboigbe. Hellams also listed all safety precautions.
Nick Kelly reports on Alabama football and men’s basketball for The Tuscaloosa News/USA TODAY Network. Reach him via email: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly.