Multiple Alabama players named to preseason watchlists
By WVUA 23 Sports Reporter Juliet Brown
Eight Alabama football players saw their names listed on preseason watchlists for various awards given to the nation’s best players.
A pair of offensive lineman, Tyler Booker and J.C. Latham, made the list for the Outland Trophy which is awarded to the best interior (can be offensive or defensive) lineman in the country. The winner is chosen from three finalists who make up the Football Writers Association of America’s All-America Team.
Last season, Booker made the Freshman All-SEC Team after playing in twelve games with 420 snaps. He recorded 30 knockdown blocks and only allowed one sack, three quarterback pressures, and one quarterback hit.
In his second season with the Tide, Latham solidified the right tackle spot. He started all 13 games. The rising junior had 29 knockdown blocks and allowed two sacks, 11 pressures, and two quarterback hits.
Defensive tackle Jaheim Oatis also made the Outland Trophy Watchlist. The rising sophomore played in 12 games with 10 starts last season. Oatis totaled 29 tackles, including two for loss, one sack, four quarterback hurries, and a pair of pass breakups.
A trio of defensive players made the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watchlist. Former Alabama linebacker Will Anderson won the award, which is given to the nation’s best defensive player, last season. Cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry, linebacker Dallas Turner and safety Malachi Moore hope to win the Nagurski Trophy this year.
McKinstry enters the 2023 season as one of the nation’s best corners. He played in 28 career games with 19 starts during his first two seasons with the Crimson Tide. He accumulated 61 tackles, including three for a loss, two sacks, 16 pass breakups, and two interceptions during his time at Alabama.
Turner served as Anderson’s right-hand man on the other side of the field. The duo terrorized quarterbacks in the backfield all season. With Anderson gone, Turner will serve as Alabama’s primary pass-rusher this year. He played in all 13 games last season, including 10 starts. The rising junior recorded 37 tackles, four sacks, nine quarterback pressures, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in 2022.
Moore burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2020 where he started the first 11 games before an injury set him back. His freshman season he led the team with four forced turnovers (one forced fumble and three interceptions). The rising senior recorded 44 of his 92 total tackles, six pass breakups, and two quarterback pressures his first year with the team. Last season, he recorded 31 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and five pass breakups.
Alabama’s place kicker, Will Reichard, made the watchlist for the Lou Graza Award which is given to the nation’s best place kicker. Reichard is the program’s all-time leader for career points with 462 on 62 field goals and 240 made PATs and also holds the record for career PATs. Last season, he went 22-of-26 on field goals and made 64 PATs. His 130 points scored ranked second in the SEC and third in the nation.
Running back Jase McClellan made the watchlist for the prestigious Maxwell award which is given to the best player in college football. Alabama’s Heisman quarterback Bryce Young won the award in 2021. McClellan hopes to become the fourth Crimson Tide player to win it.
McClellan heads into the season as Alabama’s starting running back after sitting behind Jahmyr Gibbs last year. He recorded 1,091 yards on just 175 carries with 10 touchdowns during his first three seasons with the Tide. Last year he returned to the field after suffering a season ending injury in 2021. McClellan ranked second on the team with 112 carries and 655 rushing yards.
A list of finalists for all of the trophies and awards will be released later in the season.