3 Alabama stars Kalen DeBoer needs to make sure don’t follow Downs, Proctor and Sayin

Alabama v Ole Miss
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The start of Kalen DeBoer's tenure with the Alabama Crimson Tide certainly raised some red flags as to how the former Washington Huskies head coach would be able to handle following in the footsteps of his legendary predecessor, Nick Saban.

Saban retiring and then the Crimson Tide hiring DeBoer was immediately followed by several Alabama stars (or potential stars) hitting the portal, perhaps most notably Caleb Downs, Julian Sayin, Kadyn Proctor, and even Isaiah Bond. Those are all losses that will be felt both immeidately and in the long term in Tuscaloosa.

Since then, however, it seems as if the rough waters have subsided somewhat. In fact, there have been more positive signs for DeBoer of late than not. 5-star receiver Ryan Williams re-committed to Alabama, the Tide picked up a commitment from 4-star EDGE Noah Carter, and several Washington standouts have joined by way of the portal.

Having said that, there is still time for more of an exodus out of Alabama, be it in the approximately two weeks that the portal is still open for players after Saban's retirement or even in the spring window that looms large. With that in mind, these three players need to be the top priority for DeBoer and his staff to ensure they stick around with Alabama.

Alabama football rumors: 3 players Kalen DeBoer must hold down

3. Jaheim Oatis, DL

One of my biggest concerns with the Crimson Tide hiring DeBoer, an offensive-minded head coach with little experience recruiting at the level Alabama does, is that the defense might start to suffer. Given that was often the calling card of this program under Saban's tenure, that would be a stark change of focus and something that could be hugely detrimental playing in the SEC.

For me, that makes keeping Jaheim Oatis that much more important with the portal now available to him. There is a 100% chance that other major programs are looking his way and for good reeason.

A Top 75 recruit in the 2022 cycle out of the state of Mississippi, Oatis hasn't been someone who has filled up the stat sheet in a rotational role for Alabama, but his impact passes the eye test in a massive way. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder has freaky explosiveness for a player his size and he's shown the ability to disrupt opposing offenses in both the run and pass game.

Put simply, Oatis has all of the checks that you'd be looking for trying to identify the next great Crimson Tide defensive lineman, of which there have been many. Having been recruited heavily by the likes of Ole Miss and LSU, he's someone that DeBoer must work tirelessly to keep in the building to maintain the level of dominance that Bama is accustomed to in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball.