The future of Alabama Football: ESPN ranks certain aspects of the Crimson Tide years ahead

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Alabama football is always expected to compete for a national tile. Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has won six national championships — which is still only a third of the program’s total.

As the years come and go, it’s important to take a step back and look ahead. Where will the Crimson Tide be in a few years?

Plenty of questions can be raised when talking about the future of Alabama football. Primarily, wondering who will replace Saban.

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg ranked the top-25 teams in college football and included specific rankings for certain portions of their program based on how they are set up for the future. A tad confusing, but interesting.

Alabama opens up as the top-ranked team and Rittenberg offers an interesting paragraph about the future of the Tide.

Future QB ranking: 3

(AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Future offense ranking: 2

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Future defense ranking: 4

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Future team ranking: 1

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Rittenberg's take

The only hesitation about keeping the Tide at the top is the future of coach Nick Saban. At 70, he’s the second-oldest coach in the FBS, although he looks and acts like a man who can keep performing at an elite level through 2024. But Saban’s frustrations about how the sport has changed in the NIL era suggest he might think about stepping away sooner, especially if he wins one more national title. After falling short against Georgia in January, the Tide are set up to challenge for their seventh national championship under Saban. They return a Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Bryce Young and the nation’s most dominant defender in outside linebacker Will Anderson, whose numbers in 2021 are still bewildering (17.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss). Although both will depart after this season, Alabama is well-stocked at both positions and throughout its team. The recent addition of quarterback recruit Eli Holstein, ESPN’s No. 59 overall prospect for 2023, adds to the long-term depth. Alabama is loaded at running back with Georgia Tech transfer Jahmyr Gibbs and others. There are some questions at receiver, and the development of younger players such as Ja’Corey Brooks and Agiye Hall will be key. But the track record under Saban is extremely strong. Offensive line play is an area to watch, but Alabama boasts an excellent interior and plenty of options on the edges.

Alabama’s defense projects very well for 2022 with Anderson, linebacker Henry To’o To’o, lineman DJ Dale, safety Jordan Battle and others. A moderate improvement could be enough to bring home a national championship. Alabama’s recruiting also jumps out on defense, as the team added five-star end Jeremiah Alexander, top inside linebacker Shawn Murphy and others in the 2022 class, and has commitments from top 2023 prospects Jahlil Hurley and Elliot Washington. Saban clearly was irked by Texas A&M’s run on top defensive recruits for 2022, and Alabama’s response should be fascinating. Alabama also needs to bolster its secondary, especially for 2023 and 2024, and will focus on developing non-seniors such as Kool-Aid McKinstry and Brian Branch.

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