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Will any non-early enrollees be able to contribute in 2017?

Nick Saban wearing blue blazer during 2017 A-Day for the Crimson Tide
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama’s A-Day game featured several true freshman who seemed poised to make an immediate impact for the Crimson Tide.

WR Jerry Jeudy was the game’s MVP after finishing with 134 yards and two touchdowns on only five receptions — averaging 26.8 yards per reception. He looked polished running his routes, and he showed exceptional body control adjusting to the ball in the air.

Another former 5-star prospect Najee Harris also looked the part in his first live action with the Crimson Tide. He only managed 4.1 yards per carry on his 17 rushing attempts, but he finished with 107 total yards — 70 yards on the ground and 37 through the air.

Harris shows the ability to be a capable runner and receiver for the offense, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him take over as the featured running back even as early as 2017.

Jeudy and Harris weren’t the only two freshman who made an impact in Saturday’s A-Day game, but what about the guys who haven’t even enrolled yet? Can they make an impact this season? Here are three guys who have a chance to enroll in the summer and immediately make their presence known.

1. Jedrick Wills

Position: Offensive Line

Ht/Wt: 6-foot-5, 318 pounds

Ranking: 4-star (No. 2 OG)

Analysis: I believe that Wills could’ve been a front-runner for a starting position along the offensive line had he been able to enroll early. He’s got a nastiness to him that offensive coaches love to see, and he shows all the attributes needed to be successful early on.

There had been a few major recruiting services that had Wills listed as an offensive tackle, but his skill set screams offensive guard. At 6’5, 318 pounds, he already has the size you look for in an SEC offensive linemen. Wills also possesses solid movement skills for a man his size, and he does a nice job working his way up to the next level.

There is an open spot at right guard that was vacated by Korren Kirven. Currently, former 4-star OL Lester Cotton is listed as the starter, but it’s possible for Wills to come in and compete for that spot if given the opportunity.

2. Joseph Bulovas

Position: Kicker

Ht/Wt: 6-foot, 205 pounds

Ranking: 3-star (No. 7 K)

Analysis: For anyone who watched the A-Day game this past Saturday, it’s evident that Alabama needs a kicker. Senior K Andy Pappanastos — a transfer from Ole Miss — has struggled in his quest to earn the starting job.

He missed both of his field goals — one from 31 yards out and another from 37 yards — before being replaced by second team All-American punter JK Scott. While Scott did a decent job — connecting on 3-of-4 field goals — the coaching staff is hoping to allow him to focus solely on his punting duties.

That’s where Joseph Bulovas comes in. He was originally committed to play for Georgia Tech, but immediately switched his commitment to the Tide once he was offered. The hope is that he can be the guy moving forward.

3. LaBryan Ray

Position: Defensive End

Ht/Wt: 6-foot-4, 260 pounds

Ranking: 4-star (No. 2 DT)

Analysis: When talking about a player’s motor, LaBryan Ray is a guy who definitely needs to be in the conversation. He’s strong at the point of attack, and he displays the ability to be an impact player as a pass-rusher.

The issue with Ray’s chances of becoming an immediate contributor is his lack of size for a 5-technique defensive end. Ray could end taking the same route that Jonathan Allen and Da’Shawn Hand did — play a small role while gaining strength and mass in the weight room.

The Tide will be looking to replace Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson along the defensive line, so the opportunity is there for Ray to make an impact. Da’Shawn Hand, Quinnen Williams, Isaiah Buggs and Raekwon Davis appear set to receive the bulk of the snaps at this time, however.


Clint Lamb is an associate editor for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “follow” him  on Twitter @ClintRLamb.

Football, recruiting analyst for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Born and raised in Athens (Ala.), but currently reside in Birmingham. I attended Birmingham-Southern College. Former linebacker/defensive end. Sigma Nu.

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