2. Tight end, specifically the Y position
When Irv Smith Jr. opted for the NFL Draft, it created a hole almost as big as the one at middle linebacker. Hale Hentges never developed into a great pass catcher for Alabama, but his last two years were spent blowing people up as a blocker. He’ll also be missed.
The race to replace both the Y and H positions is going to be tight. Miller Forristall ought to get the H job after playing in key situations (albeit sparingly) in 2018. Major Tennison is almost a carbon copy of Forristall, and he’ll get the Y job by default thanks to Kedrick James needing to serve a four-game suspension to start the 2019 season.
If James returns for Week 5, Alabama ought to be able to survive it. Alabama has Duke and South Carolina in the early going, but neither team is expected to mount a serious challenge. The real question is whether James comes back at that point. Rumors swirled at the end of last year that James might not return at all, and Alabama has been connected to several graduate transfer tight ends since the end of the 2018 season. As of now, it looks like Bama will roll on with the personnel it already has available.
If Forristall gets the H and Tennison (temporarily) the Y position, the question of who will back up both slots becomes equally critical. Michael Parker was supposed to grayshirt in 2018 but ended up entering with the rest of the class. He has good height (6’7”) and can catch, but he still needs weight to be considered anything beyond a big receiver. Cameron Latu, who was a Jack/SLB as a redshirting true freshman, has been temporarily moved to offense. Walk-on Giles Amos got in a couple of games late in 2018 and offers some functionality as an emergency long snapper, so he’s a good bit to dress out for games in 2019, but he isn’t considered a threat to start.
Summary: Any way you slice it, James is the only pure Y tight end on the team. He’s an impressive athlete and powerful, but until his status is resolved, this position is going to be in flux.
READ MORE: Punter
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