Alabama will look to repeat as national champions this year as it aims to add a 19th title to its trophy case. The Crimson Tide opens its season on Sept. 4 against Miami inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. To help pass the time until then, BamaInsider is delving into 21 topics and questions concerning the 2021 season.
Today we continue our series by examining Alabama’s top options at inside linebacker.
Despite losing its leading tackler from last season in Dylan Moses, Alabama will boast one of the nation’s deepest units at inside linebacker. The Crimson Tide returns starting Will linebacker Christian Harris and brings in Tennessee transfer Henry To’o To’o into a position group that already featured several established talents such as Jaylen Moody and Shane Lee. Here’s a look at each one of the Tide’s top options at the position.
No matter how Alabama lines up on defense, it’s a safe bet that Harris will be on the field. After starting at Will linebacker during his first two years with the program, the junior is the favorite to take over Moses’ signal-calling duties this year.
Harris was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award last season, finishing second on the team with 79 tackles, including seven stops for a loss with 4.5 sacks. He also recorded two pass breakups and an interception in coverage.
Harris, 6-foot-2, 232 pounds, was a defensive back in high school and offers sideline-to-sideline athleticism at the position. He’ll need to improve on his 50.7 coverage grade he earned from Pro Football Focus last season but should still be the lone inside linebacker on the field when Alabama works out of its dime set.
Early NFL mock drafts are currently projecting Harris as a first-round pick next year. If the junior can keep up his current trajectory, he should be one of the best defenders in the nation.
Nick Saban warned that the NCAA’s instant eligibility rule would make the talent-rich programs even richer. This season, the head coach backed up his words by filling one of his biggest needs on defense with one of the SEC’s top defenders.