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BamaInsider Top 40 for 2017: Tuscaloosa native leads players 40-31

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Alabama freshman Jerry Jeudy had five catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns during the Crimson Tide's A-Day scrimmage. Photo | USA Today

New for the summer, it's time to look ahead to the upcoming season by breaking down our BamaInsider Top 40 — a list of the 40 players we expect to have the biggest impact for Alabama next season. (Note: This is not necessarily the 40 most talented players, but the players we believe will have the opportunity and capability to make the biggest impact in this particular season.)

The list, which was compiled by the staff, will be revealed in five player segments. Up first will be players 40 through 31.

No. 40: Deonte Brown, OL

Alabama offensive lineman Deonte Brown (65) might earn a starting spot this season. Photo | Laura Chramer

Coming off of a redshirt season last year, Brown starts our list as a player who already made an impact during spring practice. Listed at 6-foot-4, 350 pounds on Alabama's official roster, Brown earned a start during one of the Tide's three scrimmages this spring.

The powerful offensive lineman is one of Alabama's strongest players and could be in the mix to earn a starting spot at right guard this season. According to, he squatted 675 pounds and benched pressed 500 pounds during the Tide's spring workouts. There has been some concern over whether or not he can keep his weight in control, but if Brown enters fall camp in good shape, he could provide the push Alabama needs up front.

No. 39: Hale Hentges, TE

Alabama tight end Hale Hentges will need to help fill the hole left behind by departing O.J. Howard. Photo | USA Today

Alabama will look to replace first-round pick O.J. Howard, who tallied 595 yards and three touchdowns on 45 receptions at tight end last season. While Hentges isn't quite the playmaker Howard was, his ability to contribute in the blocking game will be important for the Tide.

As the oldest returning tight end, Hentges will also be relied on to provide leadership to the unit. So far the junior has embraced the role and appears poised to carry on the veteran presence left behind by Howard.

"We’ve had a lot of great role models along my two years here," Hentges said during the spring. "you know like OJ Howard and Brandon Greene, who have taught me so much knowledge and instilled a lot of confidence in me. So, I’m just kind hoping I can take what they taught me and use that to kind of expand to a larger role on the field and use that knowledge to help the younger guys out too."

No. 38: Joshua Frazier, DL 

Joshua Frazier should add depth to Alabama's defensive line next season. Photo | USA Today

Playing behind a loaded defensive line his first three seasons at Alabama, Frazier should see his playing time increase significantly in his senior season. Alabama will need to replace two starters on its defensive line in Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson, leaving plenty of opportunities for Fraizer to fight for playing time during fall camp.

Listed at 6-foot-4, 315 pounds, Frazier has the size to play at either defensive end or defensive tackle. That versatility should be key as the Tide looks to compensate for what could be a lack of depth up front this season.

No. 37: Cam Sims, WR

Alabama receiver Cam Sims is expected to have a breakout season this year. Photo | Laura Chramer

Is this the year that Sims finally develops into his star potential? Playing behind ArDarius Stewart, Calvin Ridley and Gehrig Dieter last season, Sims tallied 152 yards on 14 receptions. Now heading into his senior season, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound receiver figures to be a big part of the Tide's passing attack.

Given his size and speed, Sims is a mismatch option against smaller defenders. During the spring, Alabama played him at the slot receiver. If he sticks at that spot, he would provide a big target for quarterback Jalen Hurts over the middle. That should be vital as Alabama looks to improve its intermediate passing game.

No. 36: Levi Wallace, DB 

Levi Wallace, center, will most likely be the first defensive back off the bench for Alabama next season. Photo | USA Today

Wallace isn't the most high-profile name, but he should provide Alabama's secondary with much-needed depth this season. A former walk-on, Wallace proved to be a capable reserve last season by filling in for injured cornerback Marlon Humphrey during the Iron Bowl. Appearing in 11 games, he recorded 11 tackles and two pass breakups.

As a senior, Wallace is one of two upperclassmen Alabama has reserves in the secondary. As last season proved, injuries are inevitable on defense. There is a good chance Wallace will be called upon for meaningful minutes at some point next season.

No. 35: Shyheim Carter, DB 

Shyheim Carter (5) could serve as a backup at the Star position behind Tony Brown. Photo | USA Today

Speaking of key reserves in the secondary, Carter is another player the Tide will rely on to provide depth. Listed at 6-foot, 195 pounds, he has the size to fill in at the Star position where he backed up starter Tony Brown this spring.

Carter saw action in nine games as a freshman last season, recording seven tackles. Five of those tackles came against Ole Miss as he saw significant playing time filling in for a depleted secondary. If Brown struggles early on, Carter could push for even more action this year.

No. 34: Jerry Jeudy, WR

True freshman Jerry Jeudy could earn a starting role for Alabama this season. Photo | Laura Chramer

Jeudy earned MVP of the A-Day scrimmage, reeling in five catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns. The former five-star recruit has been compared to Ridley, who said he expects his fellow South Florida native to make a run at his freshman record of 1,045 receiving yards set in 2015.

"I want him to break it," Ridley said. "That's my boy."

Ridley and Robert Foster should nail down starting spots which should allow Jeudy to compete with Sims for the third receiving spot. If A-Day is any indication, it will be hard to keep the true freshman off the field this fall.

No. 33: JK Scott, P

Alabama punter JK Scott is one of the top players at his position. Photo | Laura Chramer

It could be argued that Scott should hold an even higher position on this list. One of the top punters in the nation, he finished fourth in the nation with 47.19 yards per punt last season.

The second-team All-American registered 29 punts of 50 or more yards and placed 25 punts inside of the opponents 20-yard line. With Alabama looking to fill in several holes early in the season, field position will be key. With Scott, Alabama knows it can flip field position any time it needs to.

No. 32: Najee Harris, RB 

True freshman running back Najee Harris was the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2017 class. Photo | USA Today

Arriving in Tuscaloosa as the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2017 class, Harris has drawn plenty of hype since enrolling early this spring. The 6-foot-2, 227-pound back flashed his speed and power during the A-Day scrimmage, racking up a team-high 70 yards on 17 carries while also recording 37 yards on three receptions.

If this list was based solely on talent, Harris would undoubtedly have a high ranking. However, with Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs all returning at running back, the true freshman will have to serve in a shared role this season. That being said, performances like the one on A-Day will make the five-star sensation hard to keep off the field.

No. 31: Keith Holcombe, LB

Keith Holcombe should provide depth if any of Alabama's linebackers are to go down this season. Photo | USA Today

Don't sleep on Holcombe as a difference maker next season. While the redshirt junior figures to play behind starters Shaun Dion Hamilton and Rashaan Evans this season, he made the most of his extended playing time this spring.

Filling in for Hamilton, who was recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the SEC Championship game, Holcombe earned first-team reps this spring. The Tuscaloosa native made the most of the opportunity, tallying a team-high 10 tackles with two sacks during A-Day.

Holcombe underwent labrum surgery following the spring, putting his availability for fall camp in question. Once he does return to action, there is not doubt how much impact he can provide for the Tide. Top 40 Recap
Rank Player Position Year


Deonate Brown




Hale Hentges




Joshua Frazier




Cam Sims




Levi Wallace




Shyheim Carter




Jerry Jeudy




JK Scott




Najee Harris




Keith Holcombe



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