In recent years, the NCAA transfer portal has drastically changed. College athletes can now be paid by name, image, likeness collectives surrounding the program as well as not having to sit out a year in most cases.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban and his coaching staff have had to adjust as other programs have done the same. Players like Jameson Williams, Henry To'oTo'o, and Jahmyr Gibbs have all been very impactful for the Tide as of late. Each has addressed the team's needs and made a huge difference in the program's success.
With the window to the transfer portal opening up on December 5, the Tide should look to target several positions of need. Several of those positions are wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, and linebacker.
Today, Roll Tide Wire takes a look at some of the early transfer portal entrants that the Tide should look to pursue.
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Alabama could look to add a proven pass-catcher at the tight end position. With redshirt-senior Cameron Latu set to graduate, the coaching staff could look to add a weapon to the passing attack. South Carolina transfer Jaheim Bell would be a good option. Over three seasons in Columbia, Bell has hauled in 56 receptions for 757 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Not to mention, he has also spent time at running back as he had 80 carries for 301 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Out of high school, the Tide offered Bell. His primary recruiter was Sal Sunseri who is currently on Alabama's staff as an assistant to the head coach. This move makes sense for both parties.
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It makes sense that Alabama at least expresses interest in Alabama native Rara Thomas. The former Mississippi State wide receiver has already received several SEC offers upon entering the transfer portal on Monday. Programs like Tennessee, Ole Miss, Georgia, and Auburn have all extended Thomas offers. I would be surprised if Thomas doesn't take a visit or receive an offer from the Tide. His former high school teammate, Yhonzae Pierre, is currently committed to Alabama. That could help the Tide's chances of possibly landing him if they show interest.
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Alabama has made it clear that they aren't shying away from landing wide receivers via the transfer portal. In recent years, they have landed Jameson Williams, Jermaine Burton, and Tyler Harrell. Missouri transfer Dominic Lovett fits the profile of what the Tide could be looking for. He has great versatility and can present challenges in the passing attack. The native of East Saint Louis, Illinois was a high school teammate of Alabama commit Miles McVay. Last season, Lovett finished third in the SEC in receiving yards (846). There will be plenty of programs that offer Lovett, but Alabama could enter the mix sooner rather than later.
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It might be far-fetched considering Austin Peay transfer Drae McCray has received 19 offers since entering the transfer portal. However, it wouldn't hurt for the Tide to express interest in the Florida native. After all, McCray looked stellar against Alabama this season. He hauled in 12 receptions for 92 receiving yards in their late-November matchup. McCray is from Tallahassee, Florida which is the hometown of Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold. It is worth noting if the Tide decide to show any interest.
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The Virginia native was highly sought out by the Alabama coaching staff coming out of high school. He ultimately chose to attend North Carolina and early enroll, however. In three seasons at Chapel Hill, he played in 37 games while tallying 97 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Now, Grimes has re-opened his recruitment after entering the transfer portal. With the Tide likely losing several players on the back end, this could be a healthy option for the Alabama coaching staff. He has starting experience in the ACC and has played fairly well throughout his college career.
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Alabama could use a playmaker on the perimeter as well as a blocking tight end. A player in the transfer portal that fits the profile is former LSU tight end, Jack Bech. The Louisiana native spent two seasons in Baton Rouge. He started in 11 games while hauling in 59 receptions for 689 receiving yards and four touchdowns. The possibility to add Bech to replace tight end Cam Latu could create intrigue among the coaching staff. He is definitely a player to keep a close eye on.
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In recent years, Alabama has lacked a true vertical threat. The last player that was able to create enough explosive plays down the field was Jameson Williams whom the Tide landed via the transfer portal. Since then, the Tide have struggled in the passing attack. They could fix that through the transfer portal by landing Arizona transfer Dorian Singer. In two seasons in Tuscon, Singer has 84 receptions for 1,406 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Schools like Penn State, Arkansas, Colorado, and Utah have all offered him so far. I would not be surprised to see Alabama enter the mix.
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Alabama had recruited Flowe out of high school when he was a five-star. He instead chose to play on the West coast and play for the Oregon Ducks. In three seasons in Eugene, he has played in 12 games. He has recorded 50 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. The biggest concern surrounding Flowe and his future is his history of injuries. He suffered season-ending injuries in 2020 and 2021. If he can stay healthy, he could make an immediate impact on a championship-caliber team.
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Over the years, the Tide have struggled along the offensive front. With key linemen like Emil Ekiyor and Tyler Steen graduating, the coaching staff could turn to the transfer portal. UTEP transfer Jeremiah Byers is one of the top offensive linemen in the transfer portal up to this point. In 2021, the Texas native was an All-Conference USA Honorable-Mention. He has a lot of experience along the Mines' offensive front and will likely see plenty of interest from Power-5 programs.
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Alabama will likely lose both middle linebackers with Jaylen Moody and Henry To'oTo'o set to graduate. The Tide could look to add a grad-transfer at the position with a lot of young linebackers possibly testing the transfer portal as well. An option that is intriguing to me is South Florida transfer Antonio Grier. The native of Atlanta, Georgia spent five seasons in Tampa while tallying 232 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks. He has a lot of experience that could be valuable to the defense next season.
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It is worth noting that Alabama could show interest in a quarterback via the portal. Despite Ty Simpson and Jalen Milroe likely returning, NC State quarterback Devin Leary entering the transfer portal raises a few eyebrows. 247Sports' Cooper Petagna tweeted that he wouldn't be surprised if Georgia and Alabama decide to pursue Leary. After all, he is the best transfer quarterback available at the time and has proven to be elite at the ACC level. In four seasons in Raleigh, he has passed for 6,807 yards while completing 60.2% of his passes. A ratio of 62 touchdowns to 16 interceptions is very impressive as well. Alabama could actually look to bring in the former Wolfpack signal-caller.
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Alabama would not have to go very far to land Charlotte wide receiver transfer Grant Dubose. The native of Montgomery, Alabama spent two seasons with the 49ers' program. He had 126 receptions for 1,684 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. At 6-foot-3, Dubose would present a mismatch for the Tide in their vertical passing attack. That is something that Alabama could certainly use next season.
Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire