Alabama football ready for action in NCAA spring transfer portal | Goodbread

For 30 days in the aftermath of Nick Saban's retirement, the Alabama football roster was an open market for every program in the country that wanted a piece of what Saban had built, while new Crimson Tide coach Kalen DeBoer could only take transfers from programs that, like his, were in a coaching transition.

Sound fair?

The NCAA must think so, because those are the rules. The NCAA provision that gives players a transfer window in the immediate 30 days after a coaching change isn't the worst idea on paper, but in practice, it puts newly-hired coaches in a 30-day gunfight and arms them with a butter knife.

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Starting Tuesday, when the NCAA's spring portal opens for 15 days, the transfer market returns to level ground. And DeBoer is expected to not only be active but aggressive in pursuing some help for the 2024 Crimson Tide.

He's already identified the offensive line and defensive backfield as two areas where UA will likely add at least one transfer, and those are good places to start. Last year's starting left tackle, Kadyn Proctor, who bolted for Iowa during those precarious 30 days when DeBoer was fending off efforts to plunder the players he inherited, plans to return. He vanished into a cornfield and reappeared so fast, he should've been in Field of Dreams. But don't be surprised if Proctor's not the only offensive lineman Alabama adds over the next two weeks. In a new offensive system that demands more athleticism and mobility from offensive linemen, Alabama's holdovers are mostly road-grader heavyweights, Proctor included. If a top-notch pass protector who has the wheels to pull and block linebackers in space enters the portal, the UA coaching staff would be wise to pursue him.

As for help in the defensive backfield, cornerback is where the real need is.

UA lost its three best from last season, and at cornerback, anything less than three healthy, reliable players (including the nickelback inside) is an invitation for any decent opposing offensive coordinator to exploit a mismatch. There's very little experience returning, starting with a December transfer from USC, Domani Jackson. It's a position where the Crimson Tide must grow up fast, and the fastest way is to add someone who's already grown up. That would give some talented incoming freshmen, led by five-star recruit Jaylen Mbakwe, a better chance to develop without having to learn too many hard lessons on Saturdays. At safety, UA has a returning team captain in Malachi Moore, veteran DeVonta Smith, and Keon Sabb, whose transfer from Michigan was made possible only by Jim Harbaugh's departure as the Wolverines' head coach (see above). Defensive coordinator Kane Wommack is clearly in better shape there.

Beyond offensive line and cornerback, Alabama could potentially add a wide receiver or a pass rusher, two areas where it also incurred significant losses from last year's SEC championship team. But anything is possible; chatter among agents is that some big names and major talents around college football could hit the market this week. The scramble for them is about to begin, and as DeBoer noted following A-Day, a few more departures from Alabama is a possibility, too.

But this time, he won't be working with a butter knife.

Tuscaloosa News columnist Chase Goodbread is also the weekly co-host of Crimson Cover TV on WVUA-23. Reach him at Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.

Tuscaloosa News sport columnist Chase Goodbread.
Tuscaloosa News sport columnist Chase Goodbread.

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Alabama football ready for action in NCAA spring transfer portal