Surprises on the Week 1 Alabama Depth Chart

Tzali Nislick, Contributing Writer

The Alabama Crimson Tide released its official football depth chart for the season opener against Utah State University on Saturday, Sept. 3. While there were no questions about who would start for some positions, there were a few surprises with the school’s announcement on Monday. Let’s take a look at them. 

Wide Receivers 

Arguably the biggest shock on the depth chart was freshman wide receiver Kobe Prentice, who is listed as the starting slot receiver. The shock is not in regard to his talent, as Prentice is a four-star prospect and was ranked as the No. 5 player in Alabama for his class, according to 247Sports. The fact that he is starting as a freshman is what caught many people’s eyes, but he has earned praise from head coach Nick Saban throughout the offseason. With fellow wide receiver JoJo Earle recovering from a fractured foot suffered in preseason camp, Saban said Prentice has seen increased reps, and it seems that he has taken advantage of them. 

Not many expected to see Traeshon Holden listed as a starter as well, given his limited opportunity in 2021. Now a junior, the 6-foot-3 receiver will be split out wide opposite Jermaine Burton. 

“I feel like I’ve seen steady growth,” Alabama quarterback Bryce Young said of Holden. “He’s been working really, really hard. The last two years he’s been here, he’s grown every practice. And he’s got a leadership role, being here the longest.” 

With Burton, Holden and Prentice named the week one starters, five-star sophomore Ja’Corey Brooks and four-star sophomore Christian Leary will not see as much action as anticipated going into this season. Brooks emerged late last season following injuries to John Metchie III and Jameson Williams, when he caught the game-tying touchdown with 24 seconds left against Auburn in the Iron Bowl.  

Offensive Line 

Graduate student Kendall Randolph was named the starting left guard over junior Javion Cohen. Randolph has played snaps on both the offensive line and at tight end, where he started in four games in 2021. Cohen started in 14 games last season, missing one due to an injury. Seeing him listed behind Randolph is somewhat of a surprise. 

Freshman defensive lineman Jaheim Oatis was named a co-starter alongside senior DJ Dale. This could lead to more 4-3 packages to give both players plenty of snaps. Dale is one of three starters on defense this year who is a senior and will have played all four years at Alabama, so his combination of talent and experience leading to a starting job is not the surprise here. Rather it is Oatis, who got the rare nod as a freshman. That is a testament to his game-breaking ability. His tape, scouting report and offseason hype from teammates and coaches suggest he is ready to make an impact already and could be a force on the Crimson Tide’s front seven. 

Other Notes 

  • Redshirt junior and former five-star recruit Trey Sanders is listed as the fourth running back on the depth chart 
  • Freshman Emmanuel Henderson was recruited as a running back, so it is interesting to see him listed as a wide receiver 
  • Louisville transfer wide receiver Tyler Harrell is working his way back from a sprained foot suffered in preseason but is listed behind Burton 
  • Sophomore Robbie Ouzts is the starting tight end with Cameron Latu working his way back from a foot injury 
  • LSU five-star transfer cornerback Eli Ricks and redshirt freshman cornerback Terrion Arnold are listed as co-starters alongside Kool-Aid McKinstry and Khyree Jackson respectively

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]