Spring Training is underway for most college football teams. The defending champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide are returning several core pieces of their defense. The Crimson Tide had a rough start at the beginning of last season. Overall, Alabama finished with the 13th ranked scoring defense (19.4 points per game) and 33rd total defense (336.2 total yards per game). With eight starters returning on the defensive side of the ball, Alabama is bound to have a much more efficient defense. This early into the Spring ball, three starters from last year have emerged as the new leaders of the defense. These are defenders that had a solid season last season but are having an even more productive Spring training.
Alabama Finds Three Early Leaders on Defense in Spring Training
Christian Harris – Linebacker
Harris started his collegiate career early by taking over the injured Dylan Moses in 2019. He started 12 of the 13 games played in his true freshmen year while accounting for 61 total tackles, 27 solo tackles, and 7.5 tackles for loss. Harris became an easy option as the starting linebacker for his sophomore season this past year. He stepped up as a more efficient leader in 2020 due to his experience on the team along with Moses. Ultimately, Harris led the team in total tackles accounted for (79) and solo tackles (52). He also accounted for seven for loss, 4.5 sacks, and one interception. Harris was a surprising snub from the 2020 All-SEC team.
From the start of Spring practices, Harris has been the leader of the defense for Alabama. He has been instrumental in trying to change the perspective of a defense that gave up 647 total yards to the Ole Miss Rebels in 2020. In two unexpected seasons, Harris has turned from true freshman to potential first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Harris will be the next leading middle linebacker to potentially become an All-American like Moses, Reuben Foster, Reggie Ragland, C.J. Mosley, and Rolando McClain.
Will Anderson Jr. – Jack Linebacker
Last year, several true freshmen made a significant impact. One of the most impactful freshmen was Will Anderson, who quickly replaced the productivity of Anfernee Jennings. In 2020, Anderson accounted for 52 total tackles, 34 solo tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and seven sacks. Anderson had a big start for the Tide at the beginning of the season but he only got better at pressuring the quarterback. During a four-game stretch from Auburn to the SEC Championship game against Florida, Anderson accumulated 20 total tackles, 12 solo tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and one forced fumble.
Anderson was one of the most efficient edge rushers this past season in the sport of college football. He accounted for an 81.8 run defense grade (seventh among all power five edge rushers) as a true freshman. As a pass rusher, he is one of the most ruthless and aggressive edge rushers in college football. He accounted for 56 quarterback pressures. Anderson is earning a quick reputation for the role of Quarterback Terminator by Tide Nation and some members of the media. By having a highly productive Spring, Anderson is showing to only get better going as he enters into his second collegiate season.
Josh Jobe – Cornerback
Patrick Surtain II was the heart and soul of the secondary throughout the previous offseason. He was there until there were efficient playmakers who stepped up their productivity during the 2020 season. Jobe was able to display his consistency as a man coverage cornerback in his first full season as a starter. Due to Surtain’s stellar lockdown coverages, Jobe was targeted often but rarely showed blown assignments. Jobe accounted for 55 total tackles, 39 solo tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and two forced fumbles. He also accounted for 11 pass deflections, which was first in the SEC. He only allowed 0.41 yards per coverage snap this past season.
Jobe comes into the Spring ball as the number one cornerback for Alabama. Within just a few practices, Jobe is already having a standout performance against the rising wide receivers. Coach Saban has praised Jobe for his stellar play and his natural abilities as a number one cornerback. This offseason not is Jobe expected to step up as the main man coverage corner but he is also expected to help develop the other secondary players for Alabama. Jobe is helping progress Jalyn Armour-Davis as the other starting cornerback in 2021. Tide Nation expects Jobe to be a potential All-SEC selection after being snubbed this past season.