Alabama Football: Projecting stat leaders for the 2023 season
Alabama will have no shortage of talent to choose from for the 2023 season. The Tide brought in five transfers and signed the No. 1 overall recruiting class in the country. Not to mention, the Tide will return several of its key starters from a season ago.
Altogether, Alabama is poised to be a contender in the SEC, and a College Football Playoff hopeful.
With quarterback Bryce Young and outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. heading to the NFL, Alabama will have to rely on some new faces. Additionally, there could be some other new faces at different positions as well.
Roll Tide Wire projects the major statistical category leaders for the football team heading into the 2023 season.
Passing yards and passing touchdowns - Ty Simpson
(AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Ty Simpson looked like the most polished quarterback in Alabama’s spring game in late April. He showed off his dual-threat capabilities and was more efficient than any other quarterback on the roster. Throughout high school, he was able to produce in the running game and passing game. With first-year offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, Simpson should be able to do both at an elite level. Rees is known for having a balanced offense and Simpson appears to be the most well-rounded quarterback at this point in time. The two of them working together should bode well for the Crimson Tide.
Rushing yards - Jase McClellan
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The 2023 season will likely feature a ‘running back by committee’. Meaning that the running back that is having the most success will be the one that carries the load in the backfield. That could be each of the four running backs (Jase McClellan, Justice Haynes, Jam Miller, and Roydell Williams) on the current roster. Freshman Richard Young is likely going to be the odd man out when fall practice starts. He will enroll in the summer. With all that has been said, I would expect McClellan to get the bulk of the carries for the Crimson Tide. He has the most experience and is familiar with the expectation of being an elite running back at Alabama. If McClellan can stay healthy, he may be one of the best running backs in America. His ability to contribute as a runner and pass-catcher certainly stands out.
Rushing touchdowns - Justice Haynes
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Justice Haynes was able to prove why he was one of the highest-ranked running backs in the 2023 recruiting cycle. Haynes might be small in stature but is well-equipped to be an elite tailback at the college level. In the spring game, Haynes scored two rushing touchdowns. Although he may not be used as much at the beginning of the season, I envision Haynes leading the Tide in rushing touchdowns next season. His burst and power are quite unique, to say the least, and will be put on display during his freshman season.
Receiving yards - Malik Benson
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One of the signees from Alabama’s 2023 recruiting class that has flown under the radar is junior college transfer Malik Benson. Benson was an early enrollee and practiced with the team ahead of its Sugar Bowl matchup against Kansas State in January. He knows what is expected and is well-equipped to succeed in Alabama’s offense. At Hutchinson Community College, Benson reeled in 102 receptions for 2,206 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns. I believe that Benson is the piece that Alabama was missing last season at wide receiver. I expect him to be the next elite wide receiver to come out of Tuscaloosa alongside Ja’Corey Brooks.
Receiving touchdowns - Ja'Corey Brooks
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When Alabama needed a big play last season on offense, quarterback Bryce Young would look for either running back Jahmyr Gibbs or wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks. With Gibbs heading to the NFL and Brooks returning, I would expect Brooks to lead the team in touchdown receptions. In 2022, he led the Tide with eight receiving touchdowns. It just seems like Brooks always finds a way to come up big in critical situations. He is poised to have a great junior season in Tuscaloosa.
Tackles - Deontae Lawson
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With Alabama losing both of its starting inside linebackers to the NFL, one player that will have to step up is junior Deontae Lawson. He has all of the traits to succeed in Kevin Steele’s defense. Lawson is an instinctive linebacker that will likely become the leader of the Alabama defense. He can contribute in a multitude of ways. Lawson is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker that can make plays in the box as well as in coverage. His style of play is relatively similar to former Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses. Lawson will be the sparkplug to the Tide’s defense in 2023.
Sacks - Dallas Turner, Chris Braswell
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Well, I find it hard to truly predict who will lead Alabama in sacks next season with the amount of talent at outside linebacker. With there no longer being the edge presence of Will Anderson Jr., the two players that I expect to take over are Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell. Many of you are likely familiar with Turner. He started as the SAM linebacker opposite Anderson Jr. The player that will be assuming Anderson Jr.’s role at WILL linebacker will be Braswell. He may not be the most well-known name on Alabama’s roster, but he will do one of the most impactful names. Braswell has what it takes to perform at an elite level, as does Turner. They will both tie as sack leaders in 2023.
Interceptions - Caleb Downs
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Last season, Alabama’s defense forced 10 turnovers all season. I do not see that being the case in 2023. Alabama has established depth at each position and is going to wreak havoc with Kevin Steele returning as defensive coordinator. One player that will cause a bunch of turnovers next season is freshman Caleb Downs. Downs will likely play several roles for the Crimson Tide next season. Downs could see some time at the STAR position but also as the free safety. As a senior in high school, Downs had five interceptions. I expect that to translate to the college level as well. He will lead the team in interceptions next season.