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Alabama’s new football coach signs three new players

Pat Duggins

The head football coach who’s taking over for the legendary Nick Saban observed a quiet, but what sports writers are calling a significant National Signing Day by finalizing a trio of new players for the Crimson Tide.

New Alabama head coach Kalen DeBoer was able to seal the deal with wide receiver Ryan Williams, edge rusher Noah Carter, and linebacker Quinton "QB" Reese. Williams is considered the most significant acquisition for DeBoer’s first go around on signing day as the leader of the Alabama football program. The wide receiver is the number two player in Alabama, and ranked number four in his entire 2024 class.

Noah Carter originally signed to go with DeBoer’s old team, the Washington Huskies. He asked for release from his letter of intent after Alabama managed to lure DeBoer to Tuscaloosa. The 6-foot tall, 218-pound athlete is ranked number two in the state of Arizona, and the number nine in the class.

Finally, Reese had committed to the Crimson Tide since September of last year 2023 when Nick Saban was head coach at Alabama. The linebacker stayed with the Tide despite the coaching switch. Reese is a top-50 player in the state of Alabama.

APR reported how the student body at the University of Alabama will be keeping a close eye on how DeBoer does. “I think those first three games are going to be pretty critical for him,” said Maggie Gilliam. The UA sophomore from Austin, Texas offer her thoughts to APR the morning Alabama introduced DeBoer as their new head coach.

“Probably three games,” she said. “I'll give him like if he can keep the consistent win off of the first three games. I think he'll be fine.”

And if you think that’s tough…

“I'll give him through like, honestly, I feel like everyone's gonna be super duper critical that first game,” said Conley Edwards, a UA sophomore from Little Rock.

“I think there will be definitely a lot going around the first game and then I give him through the first half of the season. See where our record is then on if people are like, okay, yeah, after two years, he can go well, let's start looking for someone new or, oh, yeah, this is our new franchise coach,” she proposed.

My next stop was Coach DeBoer’s first press conference at Alabama…

“Hello, Coach Pat Duggins, Alabama Public Radio and NPR. Welcome to Tuscaloosa. Everybody in the room here knows that it took Coach Saban a couple of seasons to come up to speed before he started, you know, winning championships and such. I've spoken to students and these are young people mind you, who say they're gonna give you three games. Can you talk about that pressure and dealing with it?”

“I got three. Okay, I was making sure I had that many,” said DeBoer with a laugh. “But yeah, I mean, here's the thing. I'm going to ask our guys to bring their best energy, attitude and effort, I'm going to ask my staff to bring their best energy, attitude and effort I'm going to ask myself, and I hope that's what they asked me and that's all they're asking me. We bring best energy, attitude and effort. We got to work, we got to be smart. We got to have very skilled people, whether it's players, whether it's staff, we gotta have people that are relentless.”

Despite the pressure and expectations, UA sophomores Maggie Gilliam and Conley Edwards sound reasonably optimistic about how Kalen DeBoer will do as Alabama’s new head coach. Edwards says the new twelve team playoff system could give the Tide a break..

“It definitely gives them a better chance to get into the playoffs in the championship next year. I think the four game playoff is a little weird just with how many NCAA teams there are that compete but I'm excited to see once you do have you know more opportunities for those like underdog wins, how the playoffs are gonna go and I think that could help the board next season.”

We gave Maggie Gilliam the last word on Coach DeBoer.

“He did well last season. So like to me and he came in and he liked competed against Michigan,” she said. “So I feel like he'd be a fair coach to have like, he made a what is it? I don't know what they're, like 25 says, yeah, like, he didn't, okay. And then like, even like Washington, like, they would be able to come in and like compete with an SEC team and they're not in the SEC. That's not the competition that they're usually facing. So I feel pretty okay about it.”

The signing of wide receiver Ryan Williams appears to be generating the most buzz among sports reporters. He’s already drawing comparisons to former Alabama star receiver DeVonta Smith, whose catch in OT won the Crimson Tide the 2018 national championship over Georgia. Smith now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles alongside former tide quarterback Jalen Hurts, and a collection of Nick Saban football alumni including cornerback Eli Ricks, offensive guard Landon Dickerson, wide receiver Julio Jones, and defensive end Terrell Lewis.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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