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Nick Saban singles out a pair of defensive linemen that can contribute in 2017

Alabama DL Raekwon Davis (No. 99) celebrates big play with LB Terrell Hall during Mississippi State game: Cedric Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Regardless of offensive philosophies, the journey back to a Southeastern Conference title game and the College Football Playoff for the University of Alabama next season will hinge on its defensive line.

With losing Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson to the National Football League, head coach Nick Saban and company are searching for players to emerge. At the conclusion of the team’s fourth practice on Tuesday, Saban singled out a pair of defensive linemen – Jamar King and Raekwon Davis – that he feels can contribute.

“I think both guys have made a lot of progress throughout the course of last year, in terms of the improvement they made,” Saban said. “Both players had a good offseason and have shown improvement thus far in spring. The biggest thing for them would be consistency. We feel like both guys can do it, and hopefully they’ll continue to gain confidence and maturity in practice.”

Despite playing in just two games a season ago, King recorded two tackles for the Crimson Tide in its 54-16 victory over Florida in the SEC championship game. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds, the coveted junior college prospect totaled 63 tackles in nine games at Mendocino Community College (California) in 2015.

As for Davis, he saw action in seven games last year.

The four-star recruit from Meridian, Miss., chimed in with four total tackles, including one for loss, a sack (-8) and a forced fumble. Davis’ sack and tackle for loss both came against Mississippi State; the other SEC program that wanted his services. Standing at 6-foot-7 and 303 pounds, he was one of the nation’s top defensive tackle prospects in the 2016 recruiting cycle. Davis amassed 55 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and two quarterbacks pressures in his senior year at Meridian High School.

Though it has many options at defensive tackle, the Tide desires help on the edge. While both King and Davis have size, speed and explosiveness will be important in them getting the job.

Stephen M. Smith is a managing editor and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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