Strength in Numbers Doesn't Begin to Describe Alabama's Potential on the Defensive Line
When it comes to the 2020 Alabama defensive line, the phrase "strength in numbers" comes to mind.
But so does the buzz about one players in particular.
When we last saw the group, LaBryan Ray (leg) was out after suffering a season-ending injury and DJ Dale was still dealing with nagging issues that had bothered him since winning the nose tackle job as a true freshman in spring.
There were times the Crimson Tide was playing two true freshmen up front, but in the process was building a lot of depth that will now pay off.
Ray is back and ready to go. As a senior he's expected to be the veteran leader, while Dale should only benefit from being in the program for a whole year.
The third player is the one getting the most preseason attention. Christian Barmore.
Even if he doesn’t start, Barmore is going to be heavily in the mix and appears poised to become the beast of the line. Some of his flashes last season were absolutely impressive, as he made 26 tackles including six for a loss and two sacks in limited playing time.
“Barmore is an athletic and explosive dude," offensive lineman Landon Dickerson said last fall. "You can see in the games he’s a high-energy guy. I really appreciate that, because in practice he’s going to bring it every play. He’s going to give you his best, so you have to give him your best.”
Plus: "Great guy in locker room. Funny. Brings a smile to everyone’s face.”
Having that kind of continual disruptive presence was something Alabama missed without Quinnen Williams, the third-over selection the 2019 NFL Draft.
This isn't to suggest that Barmore, who was named to the Freshman All-SEC team, will have that kind of impact. But between his development, and the growth of numerous other young players, Alabama could have an extremely talented position group this season.
The Crimson Tide will enter fall camp going four deep at the three positions, with numerous players who will challenge for playing time and would likely be starting nearly anywhere else, including Byron Young, Phidarian Mathis, Stephon Wynn Jr., Ishmael Sopsher, Justin Eboigne and Braylen Ingraham.
Everyone was considered to be a consensus four-star prospect as a recruit, minus one. Ray was rated to have five-star potential.
"First of all, Q is a great person and a great player so to learn from him [two years ago], I learned a lot things from him too," Ray said about following his former teammate. "It was a great learning experience I think for me. But, I don't really worry about that, I just try to worry about every day like the next day, you know cause that's all I really got, I just try to focus on that and focus on just getting better for me and I think all of it is going to take of itself."
2020 Alabama Defensive Linemen
Returning: LaBryan Ray, Ishmael Sopsher, Justin Eboigne, Stephon Wynn Jr., Byron Young, Phidarian Mathis, Braylen Ingraham, Christian Barmore, DJ Dale
New: Timothy Smith, Jah-Marien Latham, Jamil Burroughs
Departures: Raekwon Davis (NFL), Tevita Musika
This is the second story in a series previewing Alabama's fall camp, set to open Monday
• Running backs: With Najee Harris Leading the Running Backs, Alabama's Ground Game in 20/20 Shape