The Alabama Crimson Tide 2021 season was almost a dream season. They dominated the SEC West. Quarterback Bryce Young won the Heisman. They had seven Alabama players drafted in the first four rounds of the 2022 NFL draft, including Evan Neal, Jameson Williams, Brian Robinson, Phidarian Mathis and John Metchie III.
The only thing missing was a national championship.
Head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide fell just short of that mark with a loss to Georgia in the National Championship game. If last season’s injuries hadn’t taken their toll, maybe the results would have been different. But a loss is a loss, Saban knows this, and that is why he is fielding a team this season with one goal in mind. An Iron Bowl win over Auburn or a rousing victory against LSU are no longer the marks of a successful season in Tuscaloosa. It’s national title or bust for Alabama football in 2022. Roll Tide!
Will Anderson Jr., LB
The hype surrounding linebacker Will Anderson Jr. is real. Pound for pound, he may be the best college football player in the country. Last season he recorded 101 total tackles and 17.5 sacks en route to First Team All-SEC honors. He will be the top EDGE rusher off the boards in 2023 and more than likely an easy top 10 candidate. But before next April, Anderson Jr. aims for only one thing: to bring a national championship back to Tuscaloosa.
Bryce Young, QB
The 2021 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback is back under center for the Tide again in 2022 with one objective in mind: a national championship. Bryce Young is easily the best quarterback in the nation, with OSU’s CJ Stroud nipping at his heels. He lost two of his downfield threats from a season ago, but since when has that ever stopped Alabama before? Nick Saban is the king of never losing a step. Via the transfer portal and underclassmen ready to step up, Bryce Young will find them downfield.
Young did it all in 2021. Well, almost. Losing the last game of the season can spoil things for a player who throws 4,872 yards through the air, 47 TD to 7 INTs, is named first-team All-SEC and wins the Heisman Trophy. The only thing missing from that resume is a national championship. Young aims to get that under his belt before becoming a first-round pick in 2023, potentially as the No. 1 overall pick.
Jermaine Burton, WR
How do you stick it to a team that beat you in the National Championship game? You lure away one of their top wide receivers. That is exactly what Alabama did with Jermaine Burton. The former Georgia wideout finished second on the Bulldogs in receiving yards last season, catching three passes for 85 yards and a touchdown in two College Football Playoff games. Burton finished up his freshman and sophomore seasons in Georgia with 901 yards and eight TDs, making him a solid get for Bama. If he had stayed in Athens, Burton could probably have led the Bulldog receiving corps, but he elected to head to play within a passing game that boasts the most recent Heisman winner at its helm.
Jahmyr Gibbs, RB
Jermaine Burton wasn’t the only thing Nick Saban stole from Georgia in the 2022 offseason. Jahmyr Gibbs is another impact player that comes to Alabama via the transfer portal. Growing up closer to Alabama than Atlanta, it’s clear that Gibbs brings speed and agility to Bama’s high-octane offense. The former Georgia Tech running back put up 1,216 all-purpose yards and six TDs last season and now figures to be the feature back on a highly skilled Crimson Tide offense. Simply put, a pass-catching running back opens up so many doors for Bryce Young and Bill O’Brien’s offensive playbook. Gibbs may be Najee Harris 2.0.
Jordan Battle, S
Jordan Battle is a very athletic threat to the Alabama secondary that figures to give SEC quarterbacks fits all year long. In 2021, he notched 85 tackles and three interceptions, two of which went for touchdowns, earning him second-team All-American honors. Battle will be a key playmaker for the Tide in 2022 and adds a veteran presence on the field. If Alabama is going to get its revenge in the national championship game, they’ll need to feed off players like Young, Anderson and Battle who know what it’s like to head back to Tuscaloosa empty-handed.