In a unique year for Alabama football, a few true freshmen were impactful on defense.
The 2020 signing class brought Tim Smith, Jamil Burroughs, Malachi Moore, Brian Branch, and William Anderson to the Crimson Tide.
As first-year players, all five individuals assisted the program to a Southeastern Conference title and a College Football Playoff National Championship.
Success came for the freshmen, despite not having spring football and enduring the Coronavirus pandemic. Two of the five names, Moore and Anderson, earned Freshman All-SEC and Freshman All-American honors.
When it comes to Anderson, he won the Shaun Alexander National Freshman Player of the Year award.
Anderson, Moore, and Branch created much excitement for Tide fans.
Anderson finished his freshman campaign with 52 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, one forced fumble, and eight quarterback pressures.
He was added to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list before facing Kentucky. The native Georgian dropped a highlight tape to Twitter last week, and people are ready to see what Anderson will accomplish as a sophomore.
Blessed 🙏🏾 year 1✅ pic.twitter.com/pcsDdB28Xa
— William Anderson jr 🏈 (@will_anderson28) February 12, 2021
He did not enter the program with a lot of conversation, but Moore ended last year as a superstar.
A native of Trussville, Ala., he finished with 44 tackles and was one of the best players in the secondary. He had four tackles for loss, six pass breakups, two quarterback hurries, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, three interceptions (team-high), and one touchdown. Moore allowed one receiver to score a touchdown against him all season in 2020. He earned comparisons to Minkah Fitzpatrick and George Teague.
After watching his highlight tape, Tide fans want a Jim Thorpe year from Moore.
Year 1✅still work to do… pic.twitter.com/LYtJ4g3S0A
— Kinggchi👑 (@malachi_moore13) February 6, 2021
Branch arrived at Alabama as a five-star from Tyrone, Ga.
He concluded last year with 27 tackles and seven pass breakups. Branch also collected two interceptions versus Auburn and Arkansas toward the end of the season. He saw action at “Money” in the dime defense, but one can expect Branch to have an expanded role in the coming fall.
— Alpha🐕 (@BrianBB_1) February 12, 2021
The trio of Anderson, Moore, and Branch are prepared to do work in year two.
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