Rising Tide: Alabama offensive players to watch this fall
By WVUA Digital Reporter Mason Smith
New faces will share the field with Heisman-winning quarterback Bryce Young when the University of Alabama takes the field against Utah State Sept. 3.
Several major offensive members from last year moved to the NFL, meaning head football coach Nick Saban must select new starters from a mixed bag of returning players and high-profile transfers.
With the season quickly approaching, here are some names to keep in mind.
Tyler Steen, OT, senior
One of the most underrated departures from last year’s team is All-American left tackle Evan Neal, who’s heading to the NFL. Insert Tyler Steen, a transfer from Vanderbilt who many believe will be Neal’s successor going into camp.
Returning senior Kendall Randolph, sophomore JC Latham and redshirt junior Amari Knight are also competing for the two open tackle spots, but Steen’s experience as a starting left tackle gives him an edge.
Jermaine Burton, WR, junior
The former Georgia wide receiver amassed more than 50 catches and nearly 1,000 receiving yards in his two collegiate seasons, so the expectation is that Burton can replicate those numbers in Tuscaloosa.
The Tide will need his production, as Jameson Williams, John Metchie and Slade Bolden moved to the NFL, leaving Alabama with holes in its wide receiving core.
At 6 feet and 200 pounds, Burton is a sizeable target with big play potential. He also comes with a championship pedigree, which could be key for Alabama as it looks to avenge its loss in the title game against Burton’s former school.
Cameron Latu, TE, RS senior
Of all offensive players who caught at least 25 passes last season, Latu is the only returning weapon.
It will take time for Young to gel with transfers like Burton Tyler Harrell and others who might wind up with an expanded role. He won’t have to do that with Latu, as their chemistry will only get stronger as the season gets under way.
Latu also looks to capitalize on a breakout season that saw him set Alabama’s record, at eight, for most touchdowns by a tight end.
Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, junior
Everything: That’s what Jahmyr Gibbs did for Georgia Tech last season when he earned All-SEC honors as an all-purpose player, kick returner and running back.
Gibbs is an electrifying runner and he joins an Alabama offense looking for a new starting running back after Brian Robinson Jr.’s NFL departure.
If Gibbs can produce like he’s done the past two years, the Crimson Tide offense can easily be one of, if not the best in the country.
Bryce Young, QB, Junior
Regardless of the additions to the offense, the success of the Crimson Tide starts with the Heisman quarterback himself.
Young, much like defensive teammate Will Anderson, racked up nearly every major offensive award on offer, so the only thing Young is missing is a National Championship ring.
With the upcoming revamped offense, Young has a second chance to win a collegiate title before he presumably takes his talents to the NFL.