Alabama football fans hoping to finish fall camp without any hiccups or major injuries were dealt two serious blows over the weekend. One of them should be easy to mask, but the other leaves a huge hole where the Crimson Tide already had questions entering the season.
First, Alabama freshman running back Trey Sanders — the nation’s No. 1 RB recruit and sixth-best high school prospect, according to 247Sports — will be “out indefinitely” and needs surgery to fix a broken left foot. The other is redshirt senior linebacker Joshua McMillon, who was going to be Alabama’s starting Will linebacker this year. McMillon suffered a “likely season-ending injury” to his knee during Saturday’s scrimmage, according to AL.com.
Entering this year, Trey Sanders figured to be one of the Alabama Crimson Tide’s most exciting young weapons on offense. After starring at Florida’s IMG Academy, the 6-foot, 214-pounder was a unanimous five-star tailback who held offers from nearly every major program in the country. He was selected to play in the All-American Bowl his senior year.
The top-ranked high school running back in America was expected to get significant playing time in a loaded backfield alongside starter Najee Harris, Brian Robinson Jr. and redshirt freshman Jerome Ford. Fellow true freshman Keilan Robinson, a four-star recruit in his own right, will now need to step up in certain situations. They’re all working to replace 1,967 yards of total offense lost from the NFL departures of Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs.
Sanders’ serious foot injury won’t be as difficult to mask as McMillon, though.
Despite limited action as a reserve linebacker and special teams standout through his first few seasons of college football, Joshua McMillon was going to be a huge part of the Crimson Tide defense. The former Under Armour All-American started the entire spring alongside preseason All-American Dylan Moses.
Reports are that this significant knee injury will sideline him the entire season, unless McMillon is able to return near the very end of the year.
Aside from those two, this is the most inexperienced position group in Tuscaloosa. True freshmen Shane Lee and Christian Harris, as well as sophomores Ale Kaho and Jaylen Moody will need to grow up in a hurry and contribute to Alabama’s thin linebacking corps.
Head coach Nick Saban will (as all veteran coaches do) lead everyone to believe the “next man up” mentality is a simple fix to an injury-filled last week. After all, this roster is incredibly deep with football players that could compete anywhere in the SEC. Losing two important pieces on a team with College Football Playoff national championship aspirations is impossible to ignore, though.
Not only that, Alabama opens the season in just a few weeks with the Duke Blue Devils. The clock is ticking to find replacements for both Sanders and McMillon.