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5 Alabama redshirt players poised for breakout season

The beginning of spring camp gives fans a first glance at the team who will take the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium this fall.

With that here’s a look at five redshirt players who are poised for a big season with the Crimson Tide.

Ty Simpson

This one is fairly obvious. Simpson is in a current quarterback battle with Jalen Milroe, and if he wins the job, he’ll set career stats in every category.

Thanks to the NCAA’s updated redshirt rules, Simpson didn’t burn his eligibility when he dressed for the Sugar Bowl in December. While he didn’t take a snap in Alabama’s 45-20 victory over Kansas State, he practiced with the team alongside Milroe, Bryce Young and early enrollee Eli Holstein. The extra work helped Simpson further hone his impressive arm and with a new offensive being implemented this offseason, the Martin, Tennessee native is on equal footing to last season’s backup.

The former four-star quarterback tallied just 35 passing yards in four games played with Alabama but in high school, he showed off his accuracy and his running ability for Westview. He was named Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year thanks to 2,827 passing yards and 41 touchdowns while rushing for 862 yards and 11 scores on 92 carries.

While Milroe played in more games last year if Simpson is able to pick up Tommy Rees’ offense, don’t be surprised to see No. 15 line up under center when Alabama hosts Middle Tennessee on Sept. 2.

Elijah Pritchett

Injuries kept Elijah Pritchett from living up to the hype he received coming out of high school. A torn pectoral, kept the 6-foot-6 312-pound lineman played against Austin Peay and Kansas State last season tallying six snaps at left tackle and recording a knockdown block.

Now fully healthy, Pritchett is primed to start at right tackle with JC Latham manning the blind side. Alabama lost seven linemen since the end of the season, five of which left via the transfer portal. The limited depth further helps the former No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2022 class nail down a starting job this fall.

Earl Little

One of the top defensive backs from the 2022 recruiting class was redshirted after playing in three games in his first season with Alabama. Despite limited time on the field, Little showed off his abundance of talent while leading American Heritage in 2020. The son of the former nine-year NFL defensive back he’s named after, Little showed a natural ability to be a lockdown corner at the collegiate level.

In order for him to do that, he’ll need to beat out Terrion Arnold for the starting outside cornerback spot. While Arnold was benched for four games as Eli Ricks got the nod to start during that stretch, the Tallahassee, Florida native was named a Freshman All-American by the FWAA recording 45 tackles, eight pass breakups, an interception and a fumble recovery.

While on the surface it seems like a bit of a long shot for Little to dethrone the fellow Floridian if Arnold begins to struggle, last season proved Nick Saban isn’t afraid to make changes to the starting lineup. Little is talented enough to start in the Alabama secondary, but only time will tell if he’ll get a chance to start.

Shazz Preston

Speaking of really talented players stuck behind a deep position group, Shazz Preston may epitomize the infamous Alabama ideal of “trust the process.” As it stands, the former four-star wideout sits behind Jermaine Burton and Kendrick Law. Burton led Alabama with 677 receiving yards while Law racked up 103 on eight receptions, which left little opportunities for Preston who played in five games without tallying a stat.

Alabama lost three wide receivers in the transfer portal since the end of the season. JoJo Earle and Aaron Anderson found new homes in TCU and LSU respectively, while Tyler Harrell is still in the portal. With a few players who were ahead of Preston on the depth chart now out of the way, the St. James, Louisiana native still has a way to go to get onto the field. However, Ress’ new offense gives Preston an opportunity to place himself into the lineup.

Jeremiah Alexander

Finally, there’s in-state product Jeremiah Alexander who saw action in just four games before sitting out for the rest of the season. Alexander tallied just one tackle against ULM as he sat behind the likes of Will Anderson, Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell in 2022. Anderson opted for the NFL Draft and is slated to be a top-five pick come April.

With one of the most productive edge rushers in program history leaving, Alabama will likely need to fill Anderson’s shoes by committee. Turner and Braswell will likely take up the bulk of the burden, combining for 58 total tackles last season. However, the Crimson Tide will need to develop the depth behind the duo and Alexander is primed for an opportunity to show why he was named the No. 6 player in the 2022 recruiting class.

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