Search for dominant central defender

Alabama football has gone several years without a true top 10 pick on its inside line of defense. While it has produced quality defenders, it has not had a truly elite player at the position since Quinnen Williams finished third overall in the 2019 NFL draft.

Over the past three seasons, Christian Barmore, Phidarian Mathis and Byron Young have all stepped up as leaders on the defensive front at Tuscaloosa. Barmore and Mathis translated their success into career opportunities and were selected in the second round of the 2021 and 2022 NFL drafts, respectively. Young will likely be included somewhere in the middle rounds of the 2023 draft.

Next season, Alabama Football will no longer have Byron Young or his colleague DJ Dale, both of whom are in Reese’s Senior Bowl and are drafted.

The Tide still brings plenty of experience back to the defensive line, led by redshirt senior Justin Eboigbe. Eboigbe missed most of the 2022 season with a neck injury that required surgery. He has appeared in 33 career games and has recorded 59 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, one interception, two pass deflections and two fumble recoveries.

Alabama will also bring back a trio of former 4-star recruits from the Class of 2020 in Tim Smith, Jamil Burroughs and Jah-Marien Latham.

Senior Tim Smith has plenty of experience, playing in 38 career games from nine starts. He has recorded 59 tackles, 9.5 tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks, one pass deflection, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. Smith has shown sky-high potential, developing into a disruptive playmaker in defensive line moments.

Redshirt juniors Burroughs and Latham have played 38 games combined. Burroughs had the greater impact of the two with 15 tackles, 3.0 tackles for losses and two sacks. Both Burroughs and Latham will be battling for spots in 2023.

Sophomore Jaheim Oatis could be the man to keep an eye on. The massive noseguard stepped in and took a starting job as a true freshman, playing in 12 games from 10 starts in 2022.

Oatis was one of Bama’s most effective defenders from the vault, recording 29 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and two deflections. After another offseason in the strength and conditioning program, he could be the bully on Alabama’s 2023 line of defense.

Redshirt students Damon Payne Jr. and Monkell Goodwine will enter their third season on the program and both saw 2022 season.

Freshman James Smith was a five-star recruit and the top player in Alabama State in the class of 2023. He was the face of a very good defensive line class for Alabama and is considered the future face of the defensive front. It will be interesting to see if he can push for snaps in year one.

Redshirt students Tim Keenan III and Anquin Barnes, redshirt freshmen Khurtiss Perry and Isaiah Hastings, and true freshmen Edric Hill, Jordan Renaud and Hunter Osborne round out the defensive line depth chart for Alabama Football.