The college football landscape experienced a seismic shift over the past month as numerous high-profile players entered the NCAA transfer portal following the conclusion of the 2023-2024 season. No program was more impacted than the Alabama Crimson Tide, who saw an unprecedented exodus of talent leave the team via the portal.
Over a Dozen Key Contributors Leave Alabama
According to reports, over a dozen key contributors for Alabama entered the portal shortly after the team’s loss to Georgia in the national championship game. This list includes:
- QB Bryce Young – 2021 Heisman Trophy winner
- RB Jahmyr Gibbs -Led SEC in rushing yards in 2022
- WR Jermaine Burton – Led Tide in receiving TDs
- LT Tommy Brockermeyer – Former 5-star recruit
- LG Javion Cohen
- C Seth McLaughlin
- DE Justin Eboigbe
- LB Deontae Lawson
- CB Khyree Jackson
- S Brian Branch
- K Will Reichard
The loss of talent is staggering for Alabama and will force major rebuilding efforts going into 2024. Head coach Nick Saban relied heavily on the contributions of players like Young, Gibbs, and others over the past 1-2 seasons. Now all of them are suddenly gone thanks to the portal.
Immediate Impact on Alabama’s Status as Dynasty
Alabama has essentially dominated college football for the past decade-plus under Saban, claiming 6 national titles since 2009. However, the departure of so many stars casts major doubt on whether the Crimson Tide can continue that dynastic run in the short term.
Without proven weapons like Young and Gibbs spearheading the offense, Alabama will likely take a major step back on that side of the ball next season. And losing veteran leaders like Branch and Reichard on defense and special teams exposes those units as well.
|Tommy Brockermeyer, Javion Cohen, Seth McLaughlin
|Khyree Jackson, Brian Branch
Saban will have his work cut out replenishing the roster, especially at key positions like quarterback where Bryce Young had been entrenched as the starter for 2+ years. Alabama may be forced to lean heavily on youth and inexperience at multiple spots in 2024, hampering their ability to compete nationally.
Winners Emerge from Transfer Portal Chaos
While Alabama grapples with roster holes, several other top programs have benefited from the portal departures. Schools like USC, LSU, Florida State, and Oregon have each landed multiple former Alabama stars to bolster their own rosters.
Jahmyr Gibbs announced he will be heading west to join USC, where he’ll take over as the lead back for head coach Lincoln Riley’s high-powered offense. Meanwhile, Justin Eboigbe revealed he will transfer to Oregon and fill an immediate need the Ducks have on the defensive line.
Brian Branch, the Tide’s hard-hitting safety, is taking his talents to Tallahassee to play for Florida State. And Khyree Jackson will look to elevate LSU’s secondary after totaling 13 passes defended in 2022. These are just a few examples of how top SEC and Pac-12 programs have capitalized on Alabama’s misfortune.
What Comes Next for Alabama?
While the short-term prognosis looks gloomy, history shows not to ever fully count out a Nick Saban-led Alabama squad. Saban has shown a consistent ability to churn out championship-caliber teams year after year, often integrating lightly-used players and new recruits into expanded roles.
Names like QB Jalen Milroe, RB Jase McClellan, and WR Kobe Prentice jump out as candidates to fill starting jobs in 2024. Alabama also possesses the #2 ranked 2023 recruiting class stocked with instant-impact talent. Five-star prospects like RB Richard Young, CB Desmond Ricks, and OL Francis Mauigoa could potentially start right away next season.
Still, replacing a Heisman-winner in Bryce Young presents an immense challenge even for someone with Saban’s pedigree. And rebooting nearly half the starting offense and defense seemingly ensures at least a slight decline in competitiveness next season. Rival SEC programs will aim to pounce on any sign of vulnerability from the top dog.
Alabama remains well-positioned to bounce back stronger than ever in 2025 and beyond due to Saban’s perpetual pipeline of blue-chippers. But the 2023 transfer portal fallout may signal a temporary changing of the guard within the conference’s power structure. We will find out this coming season whether the Crimson Tide dynasty merely stalled or perhaps met its long-awaited demise.
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