5 Alabama Defenders on the Clock for 2024 CFB Season

The 2024 college football season is here sooner than we know, and there may be no team with more anticipation than Kalen DeBoer and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Any time a legendary coach like Nick Saban decides to retire, it turns the game on its head, and that has certainly been the case in Tuscaloosa.

You have to give Coach DeBoer a huge amount of credit for the way he has navigated the uncertain waters during his first few months on the job. Currently, Alabama sits in the second-best recruiting class and has shown no signs of slowing down.

Let’s face it, recruiting doesn’t mean much if you can’t perform on the field. On August 31, DeBoer and the Crimson Tide will take the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium to give fans their first taste of what the DeBoer era could look like.

The offense is what most fans are curious about, and there’s plenty to be excited about on that side of the ball. Jalen Milroe returns at quarterback, four starters are back on the offensive line, and the skill players are some of the best in the country. The defense under first-year defensive coordinator Kane Wommack still has a few question marks. But if these five players step up and have big seasons, the Crimson Tide defense could be one of the best units in the country.

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama lost elite cornerback duo Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold to the NFL. Following in the footsteps of Domani Jackson, the USC Trojans transfer and former five-star recruit, is the potential Tide’s next superstar. If we’re being honest, Jackson had a rough few seasons at USC and still has a lot to prove in 2024. He certainly has the tools to be a star player for Alabama, and the Crimson Tide defense needs his performance to reach his full potential as a unit.

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Q-Rob has been getting first-team reps for Alabama’s defense for a few seasons now. He’s played behind the likes of Will Anderson, Dallas Turner, and Chris Braswell, but it appears as though it’s his turn to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Robinson has elite length and athleticism and has the potential to be a double-digit sack guy for the Tide defense, and if he can produce that kind of production at the Wolf position in 2024, Alabama’s defense could be mean.

Nov 18, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defenseman DeVonta Smith (8) celebrates his save against the Chattanooga Mocs at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama won 66-10. Mandatory credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

DeVonta Smith is perhaps the most important player on this list. Smith is expected to start at the Husky position in the Alabama secondary, and the Tide will need his good play to be successful. Don’t underestimate Smith’s potential, either. At the start of the 2023 season, Smith was well on his way to being a starter until he got injured. Now that he’s healthy, Smith could be the surprise player on the Alabama defense in 2024.

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Jah-Marien Latham makes the list because he’s in a battle with Texas A&M transfer LT Overton to be the Bandit starter. Latham is a good player who would likely fit better in Wommack’s defense than Saban’s. Even as a bigger lineman, Latham has a quick twitch and has the potential to be a solid pass rush option. Latham will also have to provide the edge against the run as the Bandit, so playing with some physicality is also important. I like Latham’s game and expect him to have his best season yet in an Alabama uniform.

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Tim Smith has been a mainstay along the defensive line since his true freshman season in 2020. Smith has flashed elite potential during his time in Tuscaloosa, but has yet to do so consistently. Smith is coming off a solid 2023 season, where he totaled 31 tackles, two tackles for loss, and two sacks. I expect his role to expand further in 2024 and he will need to elevate his play if Alabama’s defense wants to be elite.

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