10 way-too-early Alabama football predictions for 2023 season

After two seasons came to an unexpected end, the Tide will look to return to their old ways. Alabama head coach Nick Saban will have a strong group of players returning next season and is bringing in the nation’s top recruiting class from this cycle as well.

There is no shortage of talent in Tuscaloosa heading into next season. The Tide will look to put the best players on the field as well as assemble the best coaching staff to succeed.

There are still a few uncertainties, but answers may soon appear as the offseason gets underway.

Today, Roll Tide Wire makes some way-too-early predictions for the Alabama football program for the 2023 season.

Jamarion Miller bursts onto the scene

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Despite not playing as much as he had hoped, Alabama running back Jamarion Miller did enough to impress. As a true freshman, he had 33 carries for 223 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He was buried on the depth chart because of how productive Jahmyr Gibbs and Jase McClellan were. However, his versatility and power running style should earn him valuable playing time in 2023. My prediction for Miller is that he will be used in a variety of different ways next season and could remind Alabama fans of a Josh Jacobs type player. His stature is similar and he is sure to get yards for the Tide.

Chris Braswell makes his wait worth while

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One player that has been overshadowed by the likes of Dallas Turner and Will Anderson Jr. is edge rusher, Chris Braswell. The Maryland native has spent three seasons in Tuscaloosa but has not been able to prove much having been behind two likely first-round picks at the next level. Braswell tallied 21 tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble this past season. Take into consideration that he was also Anderson Jr.’s backup at JACK linebacker. I expect him to return for one more season in Tuscaloosa and prove why he was once rated as a five-star prospect coming out of high school. His production will be put on notice early and often on the Tide’s defense next season.

Deontae Lawson leads the defense in tackles

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This may not surprise a lot of people because of Lawson’s impact down the stretch this past season. However, Lawson has proven that he is ready to take the reigns at linebacker and lead the linebacker corps with the likely departures of Henry To’oTo’o and Jaylen Moody. Last season, he tallied 51 tackles in 10 games played. His role will increase and I would expect him to be a candidate to win the Butkus Award which goes to the nation’s top linebacker.

Numerous freshmen make immediate impacts

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In case you did not know, Alabama was able to sign the No. 1 recruiting class in the 2023 cycle. The class is headlined by seven five-stars and fluttered with countless four-stars. With Alabama losing key players to the NFL, I would expect multiple true freshmen to make immediate impacts next season. Some players that will likely contribute from day one are Kadyn Proctor, Caleb Downs, and Keon Keeley. Others will also play impactful roles as well.

Wide receiver unit shows major strides of improvement

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Last season, some would say that the Tide had a down year in comparison to past years. The Tide went without a 1,000-yard receiver for the first time in quite a while. However, junior Jermaine Burton and sophomore Ja’Corey Brooks showed improvement in each game for the Tide. I expect that to translate into 2023. Not to mention, Kobe Prentice, Isaiah Bond, and Kendrick Law will likely each see increased roles in the Tide’s offense. Newcomers Malik Benson and Jalen Hale are also expected to contribute immediately. This will be a much-improved wide receiver room from a season ago.

Kool-Aid McKinstry cements himself as a first-round draft pick

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If there was a bright spot for the Tide at the cornerback position this season, it was definitely sophomore Kool-Aid McKinstry. The Alabama native played extremely well in coverage and hardly let any of his wide receiver’s win 50-50 matchups. McKinstry had 35 tackles, 15 pass deflections, and one interception. Not to mention, he also contributed in the Tide’s special teams efforts. Overall, he is one of the more electric players in the entire country and I expect that to catapult him into a first-round draft selection in 2024.

Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson carry the quarterback competition into the fall

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Alabama’s biggest loss of the offseason will likely be losing quarterback Bryce Young. After all, he is arguably one of the best quarterbacks to ever play for the University of Alabama. With that said, it will not be easy to find his replacement. There is a collection of talent with Ty Simpson and Jalen Milroe returning. I fully expect the quarterback competition to continue into fall practices. It would not be surprising if Alabama decides to use a two-quarterback system to begin the season before a true starter has been named.

Will Reichard wins the Lou Groza Award

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In a surprise turn of events, Alabama kicker Will Reichard decided to return to Tuscaloosa for a fifth season. This comes after reports circulated that Reichard would forgo his eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. Not to mention, he was also slated to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. That all came to a halt on Tuesday as Reichard made it official that he would be returning. The Hoover, Alabama native has had a stellar career thus far. He is almost automatic in field goals and extra points. I think that Reichard will win the Lou Groza Award for the nation’s best placekicker.

Several coaching changes in significant areas

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It would be a surprise to see Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne retain both Bill O’Brien and Pete Golding. After all, the two have been the team’s coordinators for the past two seasons. The Tide have also come up short in the past two seasons which causes some room for concern. There have certainly been noticeable changes in the play calling over the last two seasons. Another position to keep an eye on is the safeties coach as Charles Kelly accepted a role to become Colorado’s next defensive coordinator.

Kristian Story becomes a leader in Alabama's secondary

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After serving as a backup for three seasons, the time has finally come for Alabama safety Kristian Story to become a nationally-known player. The native of Lanett, Alabama was a highly-recruited prospect coming out of high school. He was sought by numerous SEC schools but ultimately chose Alabama. Story possesses good size and length for the safety position. My prediction here is that Story becomes the Tide’s leader in the secondary specifically at safety.

Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire