Alabama Football: Camp begins in 10 days, so here are 10 storylines to watch

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The long offseason has almost come to an end, college football fans. We are now just 10 days away from the start of Alabama football’s fall camp. Players are set to have their first fall practice of the 2021 season on Friday, August 6.

Last week, SEC Media Days gave us our first taste of the 2021 Alabama football team, as head coach Nick Saban, senior defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis and junior wide receiver John Metchie, all addressed the media.

Since we are only 10 days away from getting things started, I thought I would compile a list of the top ten storylines I will be following the most. Let’s get started, shall we.

Can Alabama find an interior pass rush?

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We all know that Alabama has a dynamic duo in Will Anderson and Christopher Allen coming off the edge, but can they find a pass rush from the interior defensive lineman? It will be up to veterans players like LaBryan Ray, Phidarian Mathis, and Justin Eboigbe, and a slew of others to make that happen. I would also like to add that on the defensive side it will be interesting to see how the inside linebackers rotate with the addition of Henry To'oto'o.

How do the freshmen wide receivers fit into the mix?

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Alabama returns a couple of experienced guys out wide in John Metchie and Slade Bolden, but after that, there isn't much experience. Alabama brought in the best wide receiver recruiting class in the country this past year, signing four out of the top 10 receivers in the 2021 class in Jacorey Brooks, Agiye Hall, JoJo Earle, and Christian Leary. I am anxious to see if any of these guys can get in the rotation. Another name to remember is Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams.

How will first-year offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien handle the tight ends?

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Jahleel Billingsley splashed in the latter part of the season last year, Cameron Latu stood out during spring practice. That begs the question, how does Bill O'Brien incorporate two tight ends that are this talented? With the lack of experience out wide, I believe O'Brien and Bryce Young will rely heavily on the two tight ends, especially early on in the season.

Can Will Reichard continue his success?

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There has been a long-standing joke about the placekicking at Alabama under Nick Saban. Reichard pretty much put an end to that joke last season going a perfect 84 for 84 on extra points and 14 of 14 on field goal attempts. It would be a little disingenuous to believe that Reichard could have another perfect season, but it will be interesting to see if he can remain one of the most consistent and reliable kickers in the country.

Who will win the backup QB battle?

Paul Tyson
Paul Tyson

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It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that sophomore Bryce Young will be the starter this fall for Alabama. The backup spot is still open for competition. Paul Tyson is in his third year with the program and has shown some improvement along the way. Then true-freshman Jalen Milroe entered into the conversation. Milroe turned heads all spring and is primed to compete for the backup quarterback role, and from everything I am hearing, it will be hard to keep Milroe off the field.

Who will take over punt and kick return duties?

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Jaylen Waddle has moved on the NFL and not only does Alabama lose a great receiver, but they arguable also lose the best punt and kick returner in all of college football. So who will take his place? Slade Bolden seems like a logical replacement, but could Alabama hand the reigns over to one of the true freshman athletes they signed? A couple of names that you may need to keep an eye on are Christian Leary and JoJo Earle, both are very similar to Waddle in stature and athleticism. Also, freshman defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry is another name to watch.

What does the running back rotation look like?

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Najee Harris really carried the load out of the backfield for the Crimson Tide last season. Alabama's all-time leading rusher will be a tough act to follow, but I don't see it being just one guy that takes on those duties. Brian Robinson Jr. is back and brings a ton of experience and will most likely be the primary back. Trey Sanders is recovering from injuries he suffered in an automobile accident, Jace McClellan and Roydell Williams both had strong freshman seasons, and Alabama also added five-star Camar Wheaton to the running back room. It will be interesting to see how Alabama shares the carries among all those talented backs.

Who is the starting corner opposite Josh Jobe?

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Senior Josh Jobe will have one side of the field shut down this fall for the Tide, but who will play opposite Jobe? Jalyn Armour-Davis had a really solid spring and capped that off with a strong performance at A-Day. Freshman sensation Kool-Aid McKinstry also made some noise during the spring and will also compete for the spot. A guy that everyone needs to keep their eye on is Khyree Jackson. The talented JUCO transfer stands at around 6-foot-3, so he brings great length and athleticism to the position. He didn't have a chance to compete in the spring, so he has some ground to make up on the other guys.

Who will start at right tackle?

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Saban all but confirmed that Javion Cohen would be the starter at left guard and with Evan Neal, Chris Owens, and Emil Ekiyor Jr. returning that leaves just one spot open along the offensive line. Neal moved from right tackle to left tackle this spring, so that begs the question, who will start at right tackle? The two guys that I believe have the best opportunity are Damieon George Jr. and JC Latham.

Can Bryce Young live up to the Alabama QB standard?

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Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, and Mac Jones have transformed the expectations of Alabama quarterbacks under Nick Saban and now it is up to Bryce Young to uphold that standard. The former five-star has all the tools to do just that, but you never really know what a guy is made of until he is handed the reigns of college football's most storied program.

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