The expectation for Alabama’s defense is to be elite.
After three years of issues, the Crimson Tide has veterans and young talent ready to work.
National outlets have started to recognize the unit, including Pro Football Focus. It has the Tide ranked as its No. 1 defense heading into the college football season. Regardless of the excitement, there is one name that Nick Saban wants to see healthy throughout the journey.
LaBryan Ray enters his final year at Alabama.
The redshirt senior has seen two Southeastern Conference titles (2018, 2020) and two College Football Playoff National Championships (2017, 2020). He was a five-star and an in-state talent in the 2017 class from James Clemons High School.
When he is healthy, Ray has made the Crimson Tide’s defensive front one of the nation’s most feared. However, Tide fans have not seen enough of Ray at full strength. He’s encountered foot, leg, and elbow injuries during 2017, 2019, and 2020, which caused him to miss games. Ray played in all 15 matchups, including one start, during his sophomore campaign in 2018.
The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder had good numbers that year with 39 tackles (5.5 tackles for loss), 2.5 sacks, two pass breakups, and two quarterback hurries. Despite seeing action in 21 games during his first two seasons, Ray has played in just 10 games for 2019 and 2020. He knows how important this fall is for his draft stock. Also, he must end his career with the Tide on a good note.
Phidarian Mathis will provide energy and Alabama is deep upfront, but it is time to see Ray break out.
Can he shake himself from the injury bug? This season is pivotal for him to remain on the field.
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