Alabama Football hopes to have increased offensive production next season. It’s common knowledge that Bama Star quarterback Bryce Young is losing the 2023 NFL Draft. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs will also depart after leading the Crimson Tide in both rushing yards and receptions. As Young and Gibbs move on, the Alabama offense will need new faces to rise as the unit’s statistical leaders.
There are many potential options to choose from as Alabama football is always teeming with talent. New JUCO receiver Malik Benson and former transfer Jermaine Burton, among others, are both viable names. Benson and Burton are both expected to start, and both could potentially have big seasons on Alabama’s 2023 offense.
However, I settled on two homemade, veteran products as my 2023 breakout candidates.
Alabama Football: Jase McClellan
Senior running back Jase McClellan was able to enjoy a perfectly healthy junior season in 2022. After serving as a reserve as a true freshman in 2020, McClellan suffered an ACL injury midway through his sophomore year.
This was a major blow to Alabama’s 2021 offense, of which McClellan was a valuable piece. Of course, it was also a major setback in McClellan’s career. The running back missed much of his sophomore year as well as most of the offseason leading up to his junior year.
As a result, Jase McClellan was added to the 2022 lineup, playing primarily behind Jahmyr Gibbs. Several games late in the season gave Alabama fans a taste of what McClellan would look like as a feature back, and the results were promising.
He rushed for a hard-earned 84 yards on a career-high 19 carries in a physical game against Ole Miss. A week later, he rushed for a career-high 156 yards and two touchdowns against Austin Peay. McClellan ran for a touchdown and caught another in the Iron Bowl and ran for a score against Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl.
The Aledo, Texas product, which has always had a nose for the end zone, had five total touchdowns with just 37 touches in the last three games of the 2022 season. For the year, he had 655 rushing yards and 174 receiving yards for 10 total touchdowns. The red zone ace already has 16 offensive touchdowns in his career and could double that number with a breakout senior season.
Alabama Football: Ja’Corey Brooks
Junior wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks has shown flashes of future glory, most notably his game-defining touchdown catch as a true freshman at the 2021 Iron Bowl.
It still doesn’t feel like Brooks got it all together, but he made a significant leap in 2022. He finished his sophomore season with 39 catches for 674 yards and a team-high eight touchdown receptions. His 17.3 yards per catch also led the team.
Brooks was unique on a team full of speed-oriented receivers because he was a big-bodied target who could stand the ball up and make contested catches. He will play a similar role in the 2023 team. While he’s not incredibly fast or explosive, his size, stride, and ball skills make him a tough cover and a constant threat in big games.
As a sophomore, Ja’Corey Brooks always seemed to show up whenever the team needed a playmaker. While he often disappeared against less competition, he had two of his best games in Alabama’s last-second losses to Tennessee and LSU. He also grabbed touchdowns in close wins over Texas A&M and Ole Miss.
Like McClellan, Brooks finished the season strong, scoring touchdowns against Auburn and Kansas State. He should continue to build on his progress as a draft-eligible junior in 2023. Should Alabama find some stability at quarterback, Brooks could be one of the best pass catchers in the nation.
As I said before, there are limitless potential stars on the Alabama offense in 2023. In terms of breakout players, somewhat tried and tested commodities like Jase McClellan and Ja’Corey Brooks seem like a more safe bet to me.
If either or both of these players have big seasons next fall, it will only serve to support Alabama Football’s pursuit of a national championship.