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Alabama Football: Crimson Tide's 2022 Spring Preview

Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide Football

Nick Saban and the coaching staff need to find some new starters this spring as the Crimson Tide seek to reclaim the national title

Since winning its first national championship of the Nick Saban era in 2009, Alabama has gone consecutive years without titles just twice: 2013-2014 and 2018-2019.

A thrilling loss in last season's College Football Playoff Championship Game has the Crimson Tide heading into 2022 season looking to return to the pinnacle. Good news for them, but bad news for the rest of the college football, they again have all the pieces necessary to claim the crown.

Alabama takes its first steps into the campaign with Heisman Trophy contenders on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Bryce Young will look to join Archie Griffin as the only two-time winner in the award's history, while Will Anderson Jr. is coming off a 2021 campaign that deserved at least an invite to New York.

With those pillars on offense and defense, the Crimson Tide reload to make yet another title push.

5 Storylines to Watch During Alabama's Spring Practice

1. Next man up on the offensive line 

Arguably the hardest hit unit in the offseason is the offensive line, which loses starting tackles Evan Neal and Chris Owens. Alabama also breaks in a new line coach with Eric Wolford replacing Doug Marrone. Wolford has a half-decade of SEC experience between South Carolina and Kentucky and inherits a bevy of talent to fill any gaps.

The question heading into spring practice is less if the Tide can find new quality starters, but rather who earns the jobs. JC Latham and Damieon George Jr. are the most proven options, with George stepping into the starting rotation late in the 2021 season. Ballyhooed freshman Tyler Booker is an early enrollee and will thus get an opportunity to make his mark in springtime.

2. Tag-team partner for Anderson 

As is the case with any outstanding individual performance, Anderson's historic 2021 was not a solo endeavor. Defensive end Phidarian Mathis' presence forced offenses to account for another devastating pass-rusher. With Mathis gone, Justin Eboigbe's opportunity to fulfill that role arrives. Byron Young will also have a chance to shine on the edge.

Versatile Monkell Goodwine, capable of playing at tackle or end, could be another name to watch as the offseason progresses.

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3. Replacing Harris

Another spot working in conjunction with Anderson, Alabama replaces linebacker Christian Harris from last year's SEC championship squad. Harris racked up 80 tackles with 11.5 for a loss and 5.5 sacks a season ago and had the dexterity to effectively drop into pass coverage.

Henry To'o To'o should be able to slide into that Mike linebacker position, but he's filling some big shoes in Harris' absence.

4. Wide open at wide receiver

Replacing top-tier talent at wide receiver is becoming an annual tradition for Alabama. The Crimson Tide didn't miss a beat in 2021 despite the departure of Heisman winner DeVonta Smith, but John Metchie III, Jameson Williams, and Slade Bolden all exiting demands some new pass-catchers take over a bulk of primary duties.

Ja'Corey Brooks heads into the spring with plenty to build off of, hauling in a critical score against Auburn then notching his second touchdown of the season in the Playoff against Cincinnati. Speedy JoJo Earle handled returns in 2021 but could be a weapon in Bill O'Brien's offense.

5. What's next for Bryce Young? 

Young is the first returning Heisman winner since Lamar Jackson in 2017. The Louisville standout was, in some ways, better in his '17 campaign than when he won the Heisman the year prior, which set him on a path to winning NFL MVP.

That's a lofty standard for Young to live up to, and the supremely talented Southern California product is trying to replicate a 47-touchdown season. A second Heisman is of less concern than the hardware that eluded him in 2021, a national championship, but Young still has a remarkably high individual bar to meet in his second year as the Tide's starting quarterback.

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— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @KyleKensing.