TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Each season, Alabama football has three or four players from its incoming recruiting class who make a major impact as true freshmen.
While it was Calvin Ridley and mostly defensive players in 2015 — Da’Ron Payne, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison — it was the offensive newcomers who helped provide a big boost in 2016.
The biggest impact from this class came from Jalen Hurts. Hurts started 14 games at quarterback and helped the Crimson Tide to their third straight SEC championship.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART: Offense | Defense
Hurts earned SEC Offensive Player of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Beyond Hurts, Jonah Williams started all 15 games at right tackle, becoming just the second true freshman to start at tackle during Nick Saban’s tenure (Cam Robinson was the other).
Josh Jacobs, Trevon Diggs and Miller Forristall also played key roles offensively. All of these players have bright futures.
With Alabama having a loaded, veteran defense, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for freshmen to make a major impact.
Terrell Hall, Mack Wilson, Shyheim Carter, Aaron Robinson, Raekwon Davis and Jared Mayden each played multiple games. Their time mostly came in mop-up duty.
Kendell Jones never made it on campus. After going through spring practice, junior college transfer Charles Baldwin was dismissed during the summer for a “violation of team rules.”
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5-star Ben Davis was the most notable player to redshirt.
Alabama had some players play big roles from the 2016 class, but look for more guys to step up this coming season. Defensively, players like Quinnen Williams, Raekwon Davis, Wilson, Ben Davis, Hall, Carter, Mayden and Robinson all have opportunities to compete for spots in the Crimson Tide’s two-deep.
Offensively, Hurts is back, Forristall should become a full-time starter at tight end and Diggs should assume a bigger role at receiver.
This class will be out to avenge what happened in the championship game last season.
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