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Alabama Football: Transfer Portal Additions Bolster Loaded Roster in 2022

Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide Football

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide coaching staff has already added several talented newcomers via the transfer portal as they seek to get back to the national championship game

Alabama has played in seven of the eight College Football Playoffs, accumulated 183 victories and won six national championships under Nick Saban. With quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. returning, the Crimson Tide were already set to be the very early favorite to be the No. 1 team when the 2022 top 25 is released. However, that preseason projection got a little easier on Sunday, as Alabama added Georgia receiver Jermaine Burton into the fold for ’22. Burton has a chance to be an impact addition to a receiving corps looking for contributors, and the former Georgia wideout joins other big-time additions in running back Jahmyr Gibbs and cornerback Eli Ricks for ’22.

Related: Way-Too-Early Top 25 College Football Rankings for 2022

Selective is the best word to sum up Alabama’s usage in the transfer portal. Roster construction and portal acquisitions blended with the freshman class are still a new and evolving philosophy in college football. Some teams add several players in an attempt to flip the roster. But in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide seek to add elite talent to bolster positions with question marks. Essentially, the rich are getting richer thanks to the transfer portal. Prior to the ’21 season, Saban added receiver Jameson Williams and linebacker Henry To’o-To’o. Both players made a huge impact on Alabama’s SEC title and run to the national championship game. Williams ranked among the top receivers in college football with his speed and big-play ability, while To’o-To’o solidified the middle linebacker spot next to Christian Harris – both areas of concern after the ’20 season had ended.

Young and Anderson are arguably the No. 1 and No. 2 players returning to college football next season. Add in Burton, Gibbs and Ricks through the portal, along with returning standouts in safety Jordan Battle, defensive back DeMarcco Hellams, linebacker Dallas Turner, guard Emil Ekiyor to go with a slew of talented underclassmen, and it's easy to see why Alabama should be the team to beat next fall. Despite some of the shortcomings on the roster in '21, the Crimson Tide nearly won it all. Now, this roster is in even better shape going into '22 with the Heisman Trophy winner under center leading the way once again.

Related: Can Alabama Take Back the National Title in 2022?

Heading into 2022, the list of personnel concerns for the roster is small for Saban.  Here’s a look at how the three transfers fit into Alabama’s roster next fall:

Jermaine Burton, WR (from Georgia)
Jameson Williams and John Metchie III accounted for 175 of Alabama’s 380 catches, 2,714 of its 5,073 receiving yards, and 23 of 48 touchdown receptions. Needless to say, both players and their skill sets within the offense are going to be missed. Burton seemed primed for a monster year for the Bulldogs in 2021 after catching 27 passes for 404 yards and three scores as a freshman. However, injuries limited Burton at times in '21, as he finished with 26 receptions for 497 yards and five touchdowns. The California native has a ton of untapped potential and could help to fill the void left behind by Williams as the big-play threat on the outside.

Jahmyr Gibbs, RB (from Georgia Tech)
Injuries wreaked havoc on Alabama’s running back room last season. Brian Robinson Jr. accounted for nearly 50 percent of the carries in Tuscaloosa last fall, rushing for 1,343 yards and 14 touchdowns over 271 attempts. He’s off to the NFL, but Trey Sanders (72 carries), Roydell Williams (48), and Jase McClellan (40) are back. Williams and McClellan are on the mend from injuries, and former top recruit Camar Wheaton missed all year due to a knee ailment. Gibbs – a former four-star recruit – could slide into the No. 1 role next fall. The Georgia native ran for 746 yards and four scores, caught 36 passes for 470 yards, and added 589 yards on kickoff returns. The talented all-purpose back should push for All-SEC honors next fall.

Related: Early SEC Football Predictions for 2022

Eli Ricks, CB (from LSU)

With Josh Jobe and Jalyn Armour-Davis off to the next level, Alabama needed an impact addition at cornerback to team with Kool-Aid McKinstry. Ricks fills that need and then some. As a freshman at LSU in 2020, he faced 28 targets and allowed only 13 receptions for 237 yards. The California native missed seven games due to injury in ’21 but limited opposing receivers to just 11 receptions on 17 targets. Ricks – a former five-star prospect should step into the starting lineup from Day 1.

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