How Justice Haynes, other early enrollees have impressed Alabama football players

NEW ORLEANS ― Ten early enrollees from the 2023 signing class have joined Alabama football for Sugar Bowl practices this week.

Senior linebacker Henry To'oTo'o has quickly been impressed by an offensive player: running back Justice Haynes. Tha's mainly because of what the running back from Georgia has done to the defense.

Haynes had a big run against the second-team defense, To'oTo'o said. Haynes has also been getting reps on the scout team, so To'oTo'o has gotten a first-hand view that way.

"He is one of those guys where we look at him and we’re like, 'He’s going to be a great player,' " To'oTo'o said.

Early indications on many of the early enrollees have been positive. They're all completely fresh, considering they signed their letters of intent last week. They can't play in the game, but they're finding ways to contribute to Alabama's Sugar Bowl prep and get an introduction to college football.

"They bring some juice," quarterback Bryce Young said. "That new energy. Guys going out there, trying to get their footing. It’s kind of interesting. We’re not installing. We’re so deep into the season. They kind of just have to get in where they fit in and do the best they can to contribute and learn on the fly. I think the whole group that has come in has done a really good job of that."

Here's what Alabama football players have said about some of the early enrollees this week. This is not a list of all early enrollees.

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Justice Haynes, running back

The day before To'oTo'o praised Haynes, Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs did first.

Gibbs also mentioned the long run Haynes had against the defense in practice.

"He's done good so far," Gibbs said. "Overall, he's done everything the right way. He fits in the group well."

Eli Holstein, quarterback

Young hasn't had much time to work with the quarterback from Louisiana, but Young has liked what he has seen in their limited time. He said Holstein has shown an eagerness to learn everything as quickly as he can.

"He’s done a good job of understanding stuff," Young said. "He’s been very attentive in the meetings, soaking everything in. The reps he gets, when you first get here, you’re in scout team and you’re doing your best to try to figure everything out there. From the things I’ve seen, all the individual drills and everything, he’s done a really good job of how he’s carried himself and how he can throw the ball. So I’m excited to continue to watch more."

Caleb Downs, safety

Downs, the top player Alabama signed per the 247Sports Composite, has been a great addition to the defense, safety Jordan Battle said.

"He’s a guy we’re going to look to move around a little bit in the star position and the safety role," Battle said. "He’s a physical guy, has great feet and has great speed as well."

Battle said Downs has also gotten work on the scout punt teams, "locking up the gunners a little bit" to help them get ready for the game.

Malik Benson, receiver

The top junior-college player has been taking part in practices this week. Receiver Ja'Corey Brooks said he's seen some great speed from Benson.

"He’s a quiet guy," Brooks said. "He really doesn't talk too much, but when he does talk, I hear his voice. He brings speed and agility. He can run routes, too. I like it."

Justin Jefferson, linebacker

To'oTo'o was impressed by Haynes, but he has primarily worked with Jefferson, a fellow linebacker.

Jefferson was the No. 2 junior-college prospect behind Benson.

"He's doing a great job in our linebacker group," To'oTo'o said.

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: How Justice Haynes, early enrollees have impressed Alabama football players