It’s not going to be a fun day for quarterbacks facing Alabama.
That seems to always be the case, but 2021 is a little more hair raising.
On one side of the field is sophomore outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr., also known as “The Terminator”, who was last season’s recipient of the FWAA Shaun Alexander National Freshman Player of the Year Award.
On the other side is outside linebacker Christopher Allen, a four-year starter and a 2020 second-team All-SEC selection who led the league in tackles for loss.
The duo combined for 13 of the Crimson Tide’s 35 sacks last year.
That’s pretty scary. Even scarier? Anderson is now a veteran with more belief in himself.
"My confidence clicked for me,” he said in the spring about his performance late in the 2020 season. “Me being confident in myself, knowing — I always knew my job, but I was always trying to play it safe a little bit. And I think when I just took the game for what it was and grew into myself and said, ‘OK, this is your job, now let’s play football, let’s be Will Anderson.’”
Last season was the best of Allen’s Alabama career. He played well in previous seasons, but the light came on for him in 2020 and Alabama turned him loose on SEC offenses.
The result was 41 tackles, 13 for loss, with six sacks.
Allen and Anderson are the unquestioned leaders at outside linebacker for 2021, but the backups are poised to make some noise, too.
Drew Sanders got playing time at linebacker as a true freshman, and played a big role on special teams. The five-star player should see significant action this season.
King Mwikuta played in 11 games last season but entered the transfer portal in late June, just before the July 1 deadline, but has not signed with another school.
Then there is Chris Braswell. The sophomore capped off an impressive spring with three sacks and a forced fumble in the A-Day Game.
“He’s really made a lot of progress, showed some ability in pass rush to really challenge our offense on a daily basis,” head coach Nick Saban said of Braswell after A-Day. “We knew he was a guy that would step up and be a guy to count on and have a role this year. Because of his pass-rush ability he will be a guy we find a role for."
Quandarrius Robinson could be in the mix, too. The sophomore, who played defensive end in high school, will get a chance for a spot on the depth chart this fall.
The depth keeps on going for Alabama. The latest signees will compete for playing time, and could get it. Dallas Turner, a five-star player, has all the tools to make an immediate impact.
According to Sports Illustrated All-American, “Long with good twitch to his first step and vertical track. Flexible on edge and possesses good sinkage and bendability. Good torso rotation to influence hips to corner, as well as offer quick change of direction to hunt and chase versus run.”
2021 Crimson Tide Outside Linebackers
• Returning: Will Anderson, Christopher Allen, Drew Sanders, King Mwikuta, Chris Braswell, Quandarrius Robinson
• True Freshmen: Keanu Koht, Dallas Turner
• Departed: Ben Davis, Jarez Parks
This is the seventh story in a series previewing the 2021 Crimson Tide by position.