Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Beyond the starters: The rise of Alabama’s redshirt players and freshmen 

CW / Riley Thompson
Alabama quarterback Ty Simpson (#15) celebrates during last year’s game against Chattanooga.

The A-Day scrimmage is a time for The University of Alabama’s football 2024 team to step into Bryant-Denny Stadium for the first time and play in front of a crowd. Returning players like quarterback Jalen Milroe and safety Malachi Moore are just some of Alabama’s key players for the upcoming season.  

However, people tend to forget about the redshirt players and freshmen who will get the opportunity to play as Alabama football players for the first time. As anticipation mounts among fans and players alike, this annual spring scrimmage is set to highlight the talent and potential of these aspiring athletes who have patiently awaited their moment to shine.  

Redshirt players are athletes who, typically in their first year at a university, choose to extend their eligibility by sitting out a season of competition. This strategic decision allows them to focus on skill development, acclimatize to the rigors of collegiate athletics and potentially earn an additional year of eligibility. 

Well-known players like Milroe, quarterback Ty Simpson, defensive lineman Hunter Osborne and linebacker Deontae Lawson were all redshirted their freshman year and continue to play for the Crimson Tide whether they started or not. Freshmen and redshirt players get valuable training and playing experience under the spotlight at Alabama.  

As the season progresses, the evolution of young redshirt athletes becomes increasingly evident, with each day presenting fresh opportunities for growth. Offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan emphasized the substantial learning curve that young players face in their journey toward excellence. 

“They’re getting better every day. I mean, you talk about being a young player, there is a lot to learn, mentally and physically. … They’re getting better each and every day,” Sheridan said.  

While head coach Kalen DeBoer didn’t mention specific names in his press conference, he noted how separate groups like the “twos and threes” get to operate and make plays. This suggests that walk-ons and redshirt players get chances to play and compete under gamelike conditions.  

“I think a lot of it is to just rotate those guys through, trying to get a lot of guys chances to work with the different quarterbacks, and so they’ve all kind of rotated with the ones, they’ve all rotated kind of with the twos, just a lot of reps to split up,” DeBoer said.  

This highlights how Alabama develops and trains its freshmen and depth players, even having them play under the spotlight in scrimmages alongside starters. This allows the younger redshirt players to gain valuable experience at a top program.  

Freshman wide receiver Cole Adams, freshman transfer and redshirt quarterback Austin Mack, wide receiver Caleb Odom are just a couple of examples of some young players on Alabama’s roster who will get the shot to showcase their skills Saturday at A-Day. While some of these players may not get as many opportunities during the regular season, they will have the opportunity to shine on A-Day.  

Defensive coordinator Kane Wommack praised the athletes and their unwavering dedication to the sport as younger players on the field.  

“If you walk up in our coach’s office at night … there is a bunch of freshmen in every single coach’s room. Just getting better and taking every mental rep they can,” Wommack said. 

For many of these players, stepping onto the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium is the realization of a lifelong dream. The sheer magnitude of the stadium, coupled with its storied history and electrifying atmosphere, adds an extra layer of significance to this momentous occasion. 

For the redshirt players, this game represents more than just a spring scrimmage — it is a chance to make their mark, to put their names deep into the enduring legacy of Crimson Tide history, and to embark on the next chapter of their collegiate careers with pride and determination. 

“You know, these guys don’t act like freshmen; they act like guys who want to be great,” Wommack said.  

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