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3 defensive position groups for Alabama with a lot to prove in fall camp

Robert Sutton - Alabama Athletics

Kane Wommack has one responsibility this season: get Alabama’s defense back to being elite in college football.

After watching Pete Golding struggle for five years, Kevin Steele did his job to get the engine revved back to success in 2023.

RELATED: 5 Alabama players with the most to prove heading into fall camp

Wommack brings his 4-2-5 defensive scheme from South Alabama; however, will it work for the Crimson Tide? Alabama has a few position groups on defense with a lot to prove in preseason camp.

The biggest three are below in this breakdown.

1. Defensive Line

Alabama’s entire defensive line has something to prove.

Tide fans have waited to see the return of the lines it saw in 2015, 2016, and 2017. It relished the dominance of names such as Jonathan Allen, A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed, Dalvin Tomlinson, Da’Ron Payne, Quinnen Williams, Raekwon Davis, Isaiah Buggs, Da’Shawn Hand, and Darren Lake among others. Alabama has players on this front that can be elite, but we have to see it.

Tim Kennan III, Tim Smith, Jehiem Oatis, and Jah-Marien Latham all are veterans. 

Damon Payne Jr., LT Overton, James Smith, Jordan Renaud, Hunter Osborne, Edric Hill, Jeremiah Beaman, Isaia Faga, and Steve Mboumoa are players that must rotate in and provide no drop off. Alabama also has Keon Keeley that could play on the defensive line or ‘Wolf’ backer on the edge.

Freddie Roach has the players, but now is the time to turn them loose up front.

2. Inside Linebackers

Deontae Lawson has to have a dynamic year.

He will be the first player in Alabama history to wear No. 0 on defense.

Lawson turned in good numbers in 2023 — regardless of an injury — but more is expected of him.

Dont’a Hightower is the lone former Tide inside linebacker that captained his defense to a national championship, though he was not from the state of Alabama. Players such as Rolando McClain, C.J. Mosley, Reggie Ragland, Reuben Foster, Shaun Dion Hamilton, and Rashaan Evans all were Alabama natives that helped the Crimson Tide to national titles as inside linebackers. 

Jihaad Campbell, a New Jersey native, needs a big year too, but everything starts with Lawson in the middle.

Alabama fans also want to see the growth of Justin Jefferson, Jeremiah Alexander, Justin Okoronkwo, and Sterling Dixon in preseason practice.

3. Cornerbacks

Domani Jackson and DaShawn Jones have the most to prove as transfers.

Jackson was at the University of Southern California and Jones played at Wake Forest before both came to Alabama.

They have experience, but can they lock down wide receivers in the Southeaster Conference?

This will be a challenge for both as fall practice presents the task of handling the wide outs on Alabama’s roster. If they can handle the playmakers on the Tide’s roster in preseason camp, then Jackson and Jones will be good for the upcoming fall.

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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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