Last season was a pivotal season for the Alabama Crimson Tide as they had a chance to send Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young and elite pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. to the NFL with another National Championship title. However, the Tide could not overcome communication issues among the players and coaching staff. In addition, a lack of production along with the offensive line, receiver corp, and secondary kept Alabama from another spot in the College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide is now having to move on and rely on new leadership to potentially lead the team back into the promised land and dethrone the Georgia Bulldogs. To accomplish this, Alabama must first address its leadership going into the 2023 College Football Season. Three players stand out the most in becoming the leaders for the Alabama Crimson Tide this 2023 season. These players will be tasked to step up this year for Alabama more than any other player.
The Three Likely Leaders for Alabama
JC Latham – Offensive Tackle
The offensive line has been questionable at best in the past few seasons. One bright spot for the Tide’s offensive line in the past is the emergence of tackle JC Latham. This past season, Latham played all 874 snaps at right tackle, where he didn’t give up one sack and allowed the quarterback to be hit just once. He does need to get better in run-blocking with a 70.9 run-blocking grade by Pro Football Focus last season. At six-foot-six-inches and 326 pounds, Latham is a monster at the line of scrimmage for the Tide’s offense. Latham is a preseason All-American selection by Athlon Sports. He leads by example when it comes to carrying the weight and meeting the expectations of the offensive line. While there is potential to be the top tackle in the 2024 NFL Draft, Latham looks for his first ring at the collegiate level.
Kool-Aid McKinstry – Cornerback
In the 16 previous seasons with Nick Saban as head coach, the Crimson Tide have built elite defensive backs. Easily the next in line is junior cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry, who was one of the best man-coverage corners last season. McKinstry accounted for 35 total tackles, 29 solo tackles, and 16 pass breakups in his sophomore season. He was voted as a first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus. He is the Tide’s most dangerous return specialist since Javier Arenas in 2008. McKinstry accounted for 332 punt return yards last season, the most among power five cornerbacks. McKinstry is a preseason first-team All-American by Athlon Sports this season. The expectations are even higher this season for McKinstry on and off the field. He is the next elite defensive back to lead by example and help be the voice of not only the secondary but the entire defense.
Dallas Turner – Edge Rusher
It takes a lot to replace a generational talent, such as Anderson as a pass-rusher. Luckily for Dallas Turner, the process started in 2021. When Anderson was constantly double-teamed, Turner was the dominating disruptor at the line of scrimmage. In the past two seasons, Turner has accumulated 67 total tackles, 30 solo tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
This season, Turner instantly takes the role of leader in the Tide’s pass rush. He gets the responsibility for helping his defensive line and linebacker teammates set up and produce as well. After a slight dip in production this past season, Turner is set for a more explosive season with those some NFL scouts that watched Anderson watch him now. With more eyes on him, Turner looks to become more vocal to help potentially give the Tide the title of the top defense in the nation.
Photo courtesy: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports