When he walked into the Naylor Stone room inside the Mal Moore Athletic Facility on Tuesday for player interviews, he looked different that what he was during the 2022 college football season.
Jaheim Oatis, a native Mississippian, was one of a few bright spots for Alabama football on defense.
As a true freshman, he arrived as a four-star defensive tackle from Columbia High School. Oatis was over 400 pounds, but he possessed the potential with his size and power to potentially start for the Crimson Tide. The lone way he would get on the field was if he dropped weight. Oatis committed himself to Ms. Amy Bragg, Alabama’s nutrition staff, conditioning staff, and coaching staff in the spring and summer. He improved to 360 pounds, earning him an opportunity as a co-starter at nose tackle with DJ Dale. Oatis reset opposing offensive lines all season through 12 games, including 10 starts. He made the All-Freshman Team for the Southeastern Conference, totaling 29 tackles, two stops for loss, a sack, four quarterback hurries, and two pass breakups. He assisted the Tide to a 45-20 victory over Kansas State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl; however, Oatis continued his weight loss transformation. He has dropped almost 100 pounds since last year, coming in at 320 and looking great.
Oatis is looking forward to creating more opportunities for teammates in the fall, but he is also excited to make more plays himself as a sophomore.
“I move way faster now than what I did in high school,” Oatis said Tuesday with a smile. “I move quicker, I have gotten quicker on my feet.”
He wants to become a more vocal leader, but Oatis is also transparent as he’s learning himself as a player.
He credited Dale and Byron Young (a Mississippi native) for showing him the ropes. Oatis did not think he would play as a freshman, but his commitment to losing weight opened the door for him. A powerful, yet faster Oatis should scare running backs, quarterbacks, and offensive linemen next season.
*Get the BEST Alabama football insider information, message board access, and recruiting coverage today! SIGN UP HERE to unlock our subscriber-only content!*