Can Byron Young be the Next Dominant Defensive Lineman for Alabama
Alabama has a long tradition of dominant interior defensive lineman under Nick Saban. Six Crimson Tide players have earned first-team All-SEC honors at that position, including Marcell Dareus, Terrence Cody, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Quinnen Williams and Christian Barmore. Last season, Phidarian Mathis picked up second-team All-SEC recognition.
Byron Young, a former four-star recruit in the 2019 recruiting cycle has appeared in all 41 games in his Alabama career. The Laurel, Miss. native has progressed every year on campus and is primed to become the next household name on the Alabama front.
He worked his way into the defensive line rotation as a true freshman, earning the start in each of Alabama’s final four contests. He finished the season with 23 tackles, 1.5 for loss and one sack.
The following season, he continued to earn significant playing time on the Alabama front. He amassed 29 tackles, including 6.5 for loss and one sack in 2020. Young was selected as one of the defensive players of the week by the Alabama coaching staff for his performances against Mississippi State and Arkansas. He tallied a season-high four tackles, including one for loss in a game against Tennessee. He was a part of an Alabama defense that ranked first in the SEC in scoring.
This past season, Young made seven starts, totaling 39 tackles, including nine for loss, two sacks and two quarterback hurries. He recorded at least 1.5 tackles for loss in four separate games.
He is quick off the ball and plays with tremendous strength. Young is powerful at the point of attack and can destroy single blocks. He will make plays that won’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet, but his impact will be felt. If Young can continue to progress as a pass rusher, his draft stock will rise mightily in 2022.
Young was one of five Crimson Tide players on defense, including Henry To’o To’o, Jordan Battle, DeMarcco Hellams and DJ Dale to bypass the NFL Draft and return to Tuscaloosa for their senior season.
"When I chose to come to the University of Alabama, I knew that I wanted to focus on developing myself as a player, as a student, and most importantly as a man,” Young said in a statement in January. "I've learned a lot in my three years here. The coaching staff, support staff, and all of my teammates have helped me become all I had hoped for when I signed here.
"But I still believe I have room left to grow, and the only way I can do that is by returning for my senior season. I still have plenty of goals in sight, like graduating and winning another national championship.
"The fans and all of the people at the university have been nothing but great during my time here and made this a home for me. This place is truly special and I can't wait to be back in Bryant-Denny for the 2022 season."
The Tide will have a wealth of experience in the defensive line rotation with seniors Young, Dale and Justin Eboigbe leading the way.