Alabama’s ILB’s ahead of spring practice

We are now just a couple of weeks out from Nick Saban and the Alabama football team taking the practice field to begin spring ball.

As is the case each offseason, there are many questions that need to be answered before the Tide hit the field to start the 2023 season.

As spring practice creeps closer, we are going to break down each position group on both sides of the ball. We have already looked at the quarterbacks, running backs, defensive line, tight ends, and outside linebackers.

Today we will direct our attention to the inside linebacker room which will be replacing a ton of experience here in 2023.

Let’s dive right in!

Notable departures

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Henry To’oTo’o | Jaylen Moody

Alabama will be trying to replace a ton of experience at inside linebacker this spring. Veterans Henry To’oTo’o and Jaylen Moody are moving on to the NFL. While neither To’oTo’o nor Moody was elite inside linebackers, replacing their wealth of experience will be a challenge for the Crimson Tide defense. Alabama also lost reserve inside linebacker Demouy Kennedy to the transfer portal.

Notable returning players

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Deontae Lawson | Kendrick Blackshire

Jihaad Campbell | Shawn Murphy

As  I mentioned earlier, there is not a ton of experience returning at inside linebacker. In fact, the only player returning that has played significant snaps with the first-team defense is Deontae Lawson. Lawson started seeing some starts late in the season in 2022 and looks to be one of the better-returning linebackers in the SEC. Kendrick Blackshire, Jihaad Campbell, and Shawn Murphy will all be competing for the opening spot opposite Lawson.

New faces

AP Photo/John Amis

Trezmen Marshall | Justin Jefferson

Alabama added some quality talent at inside linebacker this offseason with the additions of Georgia transfer Trezmen Marshall and JUCO transfer Justin Jefferson. Marshall is an SEC veteran with experience in the Nick Saban defense as he played for Kirby Smart. Jefferson is an elite athlete who’s future at inside linebacker looks very bright.

What to watch for

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Competition opposite Deontae Lawson

All eyes will be on the lone vacant spot at inside linebacker opposite Deontae Lawson this spring. Can Marshall or Jefferson come right in and take it over, or will one of the younger but uber-talented guys take it over? This competition is sure to be fierce and highly entertaining.

Projected depth chart

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

MIKE: Trezmen Marshall | WILL: Deontae Lawson

This is such an interesting position group to look at as we inch closer to spring football. Before the addition of Trezmen Marshall, I assumed Deontae Lawson would take over the MIKE position and be the signal caller for the Alabama defense, but with Marshall coming over, Kevin Steele and Nick Saban may look to keep Lawson at WILL so he is able to use his elite athleticism to make plays all over the field instead of calling the plays.

I imagine this is a group we will be discussing all throughout the summer heading into fall camp as well.

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Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire

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