No matter the year or recruiting cycle, Alabama football values players along the defensive line. The Crimson Tide's 2022 class is no different, with three defensive linemen among its 14 verbal commitments.
Upon enrollment then fall camp — when the tally of Alabama's 2021 signing class became official — there were six defensive linemen who arrived as members of the program and joined the group already in place under position coach Freddie Roach.
How each player, defensive edges Keanu Koht and Dallas Turner along with interior linemen Monkell Goodwine, Damon Payne, Tim Keenan and Anquin Barnes, makes an impact as a freshman remains to be seen, and their roles beyond this year require even more speculation.
But much of it has to do with who's already on campus, and who's expected to return to and depart from the program. Redshirt seniors LaBryan Ray and Phidarian Mathis won't return and, beyond those two, the defensive line room is fluid in future projections.
Juniors Byron Young, redshirt Stephon Wynn Jr., Justin Eboigbe, and DJ Dale could conceivably all return, as none of the four are forecast to be early-round draft picks to the NFL next spring.
Sophomores Jamil Burroughs, Jah-Marien Latham, Keelan Cox, Kyle Mann, redshirt Braylen Ingraham, and Tim Smith, meanwhile, are assumed returners given their eligibility and insignificant-to-somewhat significant roles as second-year players.
Mann and Cox are walk-ons, and while Ingraham is draft eligible to the NFL as a redshirt and third-year player, his opportunities to this point don't suggest it being a reasonable possibility.
True, some of these defensive linemen could transfer and, given that more than one thousand players have entered the NCAA Transfer Portal in the last year, it's fairly likely a few of the aforementioned names won't be on next season's roster for the Crimson Tide.
Looking ahead to Alabama's 2022 recruiting class, though, and given that it already holds pledges from three defensive linemen, edge Jeremiah Alexander and interior linemen Walter Bob and Jaheim Oatis, the Crimson Tide won't likely target too many more players at those spots considering the amount of projected returners.
Players that are uncommitted and being prioritized are interior linemen Walter Nolen and Khurtiss Perry, and edges Enai White, Omari Abor, Cyrus Moss and Marvin Jones Jr.
All have either visited Alabama or have a scheduled visit this fall, and SI All-American ranks each prospect inside the Top 20 at his position. Here's what its staff had to say about them:
Vitals: 6'4", 305 pounds
School: Powell (Tennessee) High School
"Nolen has fantastic lateral movement and exceptional balance. One of the strongest linemen in the country, in and out of the weight room. We haven’t noticed an ounce of stiffness (common in taller defensive linemen), and he’s a missile out of his stance. He doesn’t get washed, he doesn’t over pursue. Nolen maximizes his talents within his team’s system, yet he remains the star of the show whenever he steps on the field in any setting. His motor combined with his size/speed is enough for any college coach to drool over. Will make any college defensive line unit deeper the second he steps onto campus."
Vitals: 6'3", 265 pounds
School: Montgomery (Alabama) Park Crossing
"Perry plays with fast twitch off the edge, but he will likely be moved inside at the next level. Fantastic change of direction. He can flip his hips when rushing from the edge, and blow up any puller to his side. Great feel for the way his opponent is trying to block him. He can work around anchored offensive linemen by feeling their weight, not by guessing. His motor is off the charts, and he’s got the D-line X factor: a great get-off. Good eyes to see pullers, yet exceedingly fast upfield when teams try to pin him with a crack block. Perry checks all the most important defensive line boxes with his high-performance motor, elite quickness, and powerful punch at the point of attack. Good feet that do not stop chopping when he's engaged. We're very excited to see the senior season development out of Perry as well as where he will suit up at the next level."
Vitals: 6'5", 230 pounds
School: Philadelphia Imhotep Institute
"White put together such impressive sophomore film, we couldn’t leave him out of this list. He is one of the most sought after edge defenders in this class for a reason despite being raw. He’s high on virtually everybody’s board as a fast twitch sack machine. White is lanky but doesn’t play like it at all. He glides across the turf. Little junior film to evaluate, but we are confident in what we saw to confirm he is still presently one of the best edge defenders in the class of 2022. Extremely talented young athlete who may still be too low on the list."
Vitals: 6'5", 248 pounds
School: Duncanville (Texas) High School
"A strong combination of technical ability and instincts off the edge, the Texan can win in many ways. The first step and edge bending ability is obvious, but a closer look at how Abor combines it with his hands is where he becomes special. Advanced hand-fighting and block-shedding ability allow him to pressure the passer and/or gear down and play the run, even getting his hands on ball carriers well down the line of scrimmage at times. Abor is as disruptive as it gets in high school football, with that knack for making a play in the backfield and attacking the ball in the process -- not to mention doing it against some of the best prep competition anywhere. Few at any position have a stronger floor than he."
Vitals: 6'5", 220 pounds
School: Las Vegas (Nevada) Bishop Gorman
"Moss is the best trench player on a loaded Bishop Gorman defense that will be tested this coming fall with a loaded schedule. He is a towering figure, but still athletic enough to drop into pass coverage. He’s a speed rusher and with the toolset to be a 3-4 outside linebacker. He’s got fantastic bend which is even more impressive given his 77-inch frame. Moss covers a lot of ground in every step but can drop his hips quickly to redirect. He would benefit from more work synchronizing hands with his feet in pass rush. Solid against the run but Moss will be best utilized setting an edge out in space and making plays in the flat. Going to be an asset in pass coverage whether it’s zone, or man-man with tight ends."
Marvin Jones, Jr.
Vitals: 6'5", 245 pounds
School: Plantation (Florida) American Heritage
"Jones exhibits impressive nuance to his pass rush with multiple entry points. Will play chess with his matchup, flashing his hands to get the tackle to punch or stop their feet. Shows he can keep mobile quarterbacks wrangled by rushing to the back shoulder of the passer. Lean, linebacker type body with excellent pursuit skills. Takes proper angle along the line of scrimmage defending the run. Bend is elite. Jones is lightning quick and is capable of flipping his hips to chase scrambling quarterbacks or assignments out of the backfield. If he can play lower off the snap, Jones is even more dominant. Fantastic foot-fire as he bends the corner into the pocket. Will benefit from additional weight to play the run and could then project as a classic defensive end type."