A new season of college football brings a different wave of freshmen players.
Alabama fans were impressed with the first-year athletes that contributed to the 2020 national championship team.
Names such as William Anderson, Malachi Moore, Brian Branch, Jase McClellan, Roydell Williams, Tim Smith, Jamil Burroughs, and Bryce Young all got an opportunity to show what they could do. Anderson and Moore earned awards from the Southeastern Conference for their efforts, but multiple guys stepped up.
Nick Saban signed what appears to be his most talented class ever in February, and Crimson Tide fans are ready to see this bunch. Alabama brought in 27 student-athletes; however, yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine will highlight five that have the best chance at playing time and create a huge impact.
JC Latham, OL
Evan Neal came from IMG Academy and became a starting offensive tackle at Alabama.
JC Latham is close friends with Neal, and he looks to do the same thing. A native of Oak Creek, Wis., the five-star offensive lineman has an opportunity to win the job at right tackle.
The 6-foot-6, 325-pounder brings quickness, physicality, and a lot of capability to the position.
Before arriving at IMG Academy as a junior, Latham powered Catholic Memorial High School to a 13-1 record — earning it a Wisconsin Division 3 state championship in 2018 as a sophomore. He was awarded one diamond from TDA’s independent recruiting rankings, which means he projects as “an immediate contributor and game-changer.”
Latham is competing against Tommy Brockermeyer, Javion Cohen, Damieon George, Pierce Quick, and Kendall Randolph for the job.
Kool-Aid McKinstry, DB
He will have the best name in the sport, but Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry will play a lot.
The 6-foot, 180-pounder has gotten stronger this offseason and turned in a great spring.
He impressed Nick Saban, the coaching staff, and his teammates with his confidence, competitiveness, and effort on the field.
McKinstry challenged receivers on A-Day and collected an interception. Josh Jobe and Jalyn Armour-Davis have a firm hold on both cornerback spots, but Kool-Aid is making a push. If one stumbles in preseason camp, expect McKinstry to emerge and become a starter to open the season.
His ability to learn quickly pushed Ronald Williams and Brandon Turnage into the transfer portal.
Agiye Hall, WR
John Metchie will be No. 1 and Jameson Williams might be second, but who will stand as Alabama’s third wide receiver?
Slade Bolden is holding serve, but keep your eyes on Agiye Hall. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder caught waves of attention in the spring game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Hall restored visions of Julio Jones into the minds of fans with his knack for contested receptions. He caught four passes for 72 yards and had the ESPN team of Kirk Herbstreit and Joey Galloway asking about him.
Fans want to see this young stud in action.
Camar Wheaton, RB
Nick Saban usually rotates three running backs for the Tide.
Camar Wheaton is not thinking about redshirting this season. He has the skills to be No. 3 in the rotation, but he must beat out Roydell Williams and Trey Sanders. Both players carry more experience; nevertheless, Wheaton has the element of surprise.
If he becomes the third back, Alabama’s offense is going to have a lot of fun.
JoJo Earle, WR
After losing a twitchy, explosive player in Jaylen Waddle, Alabama signs a new breed in JoJo Earle.
According to respectable sources, yours truly of TDA has learned that Earle is ‘pretty freaking amazing’ in 7-on-7.
He is as good as advertised and should at least start on special teams. Earle can provide instant offense for the Tide on kick returns and punt returns. Coach Saban is about creating an edge, and having Earle’s acceleration gives that to Alabama.
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