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Who are the top five most important Alabama players for this season?

Photo comes via SEC Media Portal

Athletes know the pressure and expectations when they come through the University of Alabama’s football program.

A lot of them thrive in the pressure and expectations because they want the spotlight.

RELATED: Which second-year defensive players for Alabama will be impactful in the fall?

Nick Saban had players in his 17-year run with the Crimson Tide that were clutch in the biggest moments. No matter if it was an offensive or defensive player, the Tide had guys that embraced the moment. Kalen DeBoer, the current head coach for Alabama, has individuals cut from the same cloth. He wants to prove he can keep the Crimson Tide rolling without Saban as the head man.

DeBoer has players of experience and leadership on the roster, but who are the most important guys on this team?

A ranking of the top five most important players for Alabama is below.

1. Jalen Milroe, QB

A college football team cannot start a most important player list and not have its quarterback.

Everything for Alabama starts and ends with Jalen Milroe.

He came close to delivering the Crimson Tide a College Football Playoff National Championship in 2023, but he did lead the team to a Southeastern Conference title. Milroe, a native of Katy, Texas, accomplished 2,834 passing yards and 35 total touchdowns as a first-year starter. He returns as a preseason Heisman contender, but he has a new coaching staff. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has worked hard this offseason to fine-tune his passing mechanics. He did well in spring practice, but Milroe wants to show he is a complete quarterback. If he headlines an offensive attack that cannot be stopped, Milroe could be in for a very special season.

2. Malachi Moore, DB

Malachi Moore is as important to Alabama’s defense as Milroe is to its offense.

Moore’s decision to return to school for a fifth-year gives the Tide a chance to be dynamic. He has played a lot of football, knows the culture of the program, and understands what it takes to be a champion. Moore, a native of Trussville, Ala., earned permanent team captain honors from his teammates last year. He collected 52 total tackles, five tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry, and an interception in 2023. After having the “LANK” credo in 2023, Moore created a new statement for the team to rally behind.

“If it ain’t wearing Crimson” has players ready to run through a wall.

Moore’s experience helps Alabama’s cornerbacks and safeties with communication. 

3. Tyler Booker, OL

Alabama has three offensive linemen with experience on its roster.

Tyler Booker, a junior, returns at left guard.

He made first-team All-SEC in 2023 for his efforts, helping the Crimson to an SEC Championship over Georgia.

The 6-foot-5, specimen dropped 25 pounds this offseason, going from 355 to 330. A leaner Booker makes the Tide better in man-blocking, zone-blocking, gap-blocking, and other assignments to make the rushing attack and passing game potent.

Booker sets things in motion up front with his size, leadership, and communication skills at the position. 

4. Tim Kennan III, DL

Alabama has to return to being dominant on its defensive line.

Tim Kennan III starts the transition as a nose tackle in the 4-2-5 system.

Kennan, a Birmingham (Ala.) native, emerged on the scene last season as a first-year starter. The 6-foot-2, 315-pounder had 38 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack, seven quarterback hurries (led all defensive linemen), and a pass breakup in 2023. 

Kennan has to shut down the middle of opposing offenses and give Alabama’s linebackers a chance to make plays.

He has to command a double team every time in the fall in order for the 4-2-5 scheme to work.

5. Deontae Lawson, LB

He became the first “Agent 0” in Alabama football history in spring practice, but Deontae Lawson has to live up to it.

Lawson had some injuries a year ago; however, he managed to total 67 tackles (second on the team), 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, four pass breakups, and four quarterback hurries. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder had good moments in 2023, but now he has to become an elite middle linebacker. Names such as Rolando McClain, Dont’a Hightower, C.J. Mosley, Reggie Ragland, Reuben Foster, Rashaan Evans, and Shaun Dion Hamilton took things personally as middle linebackers. Alabama won national championships with those players because they carried an intensity that everyone got behind.

Lawson has to bring that level of intensity to this defense.

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Stephen M. Smith is the senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 15 years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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