The reigning national champion Alabama Crimson Tide football team is hoping to return to the College Football Playoff during the 2016 season to defend their title. They will have to do that with a different man leading the defensive side of the ball, however, after defensive coordinator Kirby Smart left to accept the Georgia Bulldogs head coaching gig.
Despite having a new man leading the defensive unit, former Georgia’s Jeremy Pruitt, ESPN’s Football Power Index projects the Crimson Tide will have the nation’s top defense in 2016.
Alabama lost stars like Reggie Ragland, A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed to the NFL Draft, but some of the key returning starters are a big reason why the Crimson Tide are expected not to miss a step.
“First-team All-SEC defenders Jonathan Allen (team leader in sacks) and Eddie Jackson (team leader in interceptions) return for their senior seasons to go along with top prospects Tim Williams, Da’Shawn Hand and a boatload of blue-chip recruits,” Sharon Katz wrote in an ESPN Insider article.
“Don’t be surprised if new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt produces an even more dominant defense in 2016 than the one that won the national championship last season.”
Whether the defense can retain it’s dominance or take a step forward remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: Alabama will once again be a serious threat to win the national championship and they will be in contention for the College Football Playoff.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports