The 2019 Alabama football roster is fluid as it always is until fall camp. One thing is clear, the Crimson Tide will be young in 2019.
Alabama football fans have lots of numbers to keep up with over the next several months. One milestone number was settled at midnight on Jan. 14. The final list of Tide players choosing NFL early entry is complete. Six Crimson Tide juniors and a redshirt sophomore opted to leave for the NFL.
All seven were starters or the equivalent of being starters by regular rotation. The defense took the biggest hit, losing Quinnen Williams, Mack Wilson, Deionte Thompson and Saivion Smith. On the offensive side, Jonah Williams, Irv Smith Jr. and Josh Jacobs chose to leave early.
In total, Alabama football is losing 21 players who had roles in the Tide’s two-deep offense, defense and special teams. Of the 21, 14 can be considered equivalent to starters. In addition, two more players are expected to exit as graduate transfers. Backup offensive lineman, Richie Petitbon is moving to the Fighting Illini. Jalen Hurts has not yet chosen his new school.
That is a bunch of talent to replace and it could have been worse if Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings had decided to move on to the NFL. The flip side is the exodus allows the 2019 Alabama Crimson Tide to get closer to its 85 scholarship limit. Assuming the final added 2019 scholarships are 28, the Tide will have a February roster of 90 scholarship players.
There is always more attrition in spring and fall. More transfers will occur. Often the tipping point is after spring practice when players have a better sense of where they fit in the depth chart.
The good news is the 2019 signing class will bring new players who can help in the 2019 season. Will Reichard will be a welcome addition at kicker. Evan Neal and Darrian Dalcourt have a chance at the offensive line two-deep. Defensive end, Antonio Alfano will rotate into the defensive front often and early in the season. Trey Sanders is expected to make the running back rotation. At least another half-dozen incoming freshmen could see more than mop-up duty in 2019.
Six true freshmen played four or fewer games in 2018 and can redshirt. As can Terrell Lewis, Chris Allen and Major Tennison if they choose. Six true freshmen saw no action in 2018. Add the 12, 2018 freshmen with redshirt options and the 28 new freshmen and close to half of the 2019 roster of scholarship players could be freshmen.
That is the definition of a young football team. Of course, in this era of many transfers and NFL early entries, a redshirt sophomore, like Quinnen Williams was in 2018, is an upper-classman.
Speaking of numbers, we still don’t know if the 2019 class will be 28, 29 or 30 players. There are persistent but unconfirmed rumors Will Reichard and Paul Tyson will not be on scholarship. The NCAA rules are tight on the issue if a player has been ‘recruited’ by a school. We are unclear about the actual situation.