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Alabama Has Full Class Worth of Players in Transfer Portal in Wake of Saban Retirement

Nick Saban’s retirement was always going to spur on questions about Alabama’s future. The fact that it comes in the transfer portal era creates an immediate issue for new coach Kalen DeBoer and his staff. As with many schools in similar situations, Alabama has seen a rash of entrants into the transfer portal in the weeks since the Crimson Tide’s loss to Michigan at the Rose Bowl.

Wednesday morning saw one of the most impactful transfer decisions, as freshman All-American defensive back Caleb Downs reportedly began the process of entering the portal. He is already being connected to fellow SEC power Georgia, after defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson left Alabama’s staff to join Kirby Smart in Athens.

Alabama defensive back Caleb Downs gestures towards the sky during the Rose Bowl against Michigan.

Caleb Downs will reportedly join the many other outgoing transfers from Alabama.

This is the latest news in a troubling, if unsurprising, trend for Alabama. According to 247Sports, Downs would be the 27th Crimson Tide player to hit the portal. In total, Alabama is losing a large recruiting class worth of players.

Nineteen of those players are already committed to or enrolled at other programs, with a slew of players heading to peer programs like Florida State, Ohio State and Texas:

  • QB Tyler Buchner - committed to Notre Dame (lacrosse)
  • QB Eli Holstein - committed to Pitt
  • RB Roydell Williams - enrolled at Florida State
  • WR Malik Benson - enrolled at Florida State
  • WR Isaiah Bond - committed to Texas
  • WR Ja’Corey Brooks- committed to Louisville
  • WR Shazz Preston - committed to Tulane
  • TE Miles Kitselman - committed to Tennessee
  • OL Terrence Ferguson - enrolled at Florida State
  • OL Seth McLaughlin - committed to Ohio State
  • DL Anquin Barnes - committed to Colorado
  • DL Monkell Goodwine - committed to South Carolina
  • DL Isaiah Hastings - committed to Syracuse
  • LB Kendrick Blackshire - committed to Texas
  • LB Shawn Murphy - committed to Florida State
  • CB Earl Little II - enrolled at Florida State
  • CB Dezz Ricks - committed to Texas A&M
  • S Jake Pope - committed to Georgia
  • S Kristian Story - enrolled at Kentucky

Seven more players remain available:

  • WR Thaiu Jones-Bell
  • WR Hayden Neighbors
  • TE Amari Niblack
  • TE Jax Porter
  • LB Ian Jackson
  • CB Trey Amos
  • CB Antonio Kite

The list includes some significant contributors to the 2023 SEC champions. 

Williams was the team’s second-leading rusher, with 560 yards and five touchdowns. Bond led the team with 48 receptions, and was second on the roster with 668 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Niblack had 20 receptions for 327 yards and was tied with Bond with four touchdowns.

When Downs officially joins the list, he will leap to the top given the impact that he made in year one at Alabama—and the fact that he will have at least two more collegiate seasons.

So far, Alabama has landed three incoming transfers: offensive tackle Naquil Betrand and defensive lineman LT Overton from Texas A&M, and cornerback Domani Jackson from USC. As DeBoer builds out his staff and gets 2024 preparations underway, this number will certainly change. Uncommitted players in the portal may also withdraw and return to Alabama, if the new staff is open to having them back.

In any case, next year’s Alabama roster will look very different from the one that played in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.