Nick Saban Comments on Former Alabama LB, Arkansas Transfer
Drew Sanders would've likely been a starter for Alabama this fall, according to coach Nick Saban, had he not transferred to the Razorbacks in January.
Saban was asked about the former Tide player during a weekly Wednesday SEC Coaches teleconference meeting with the media. Saban discussed Sanders' time with Alabama last year, which was disrupted by a wrist injury that required surgery.
"He is a fine young man and really good football player that played extremely well for us last year," Saban said. "He had an unfortunate injury that held him back and he probably would have been a starter here this year."
The 6'5 Texas native was listed at various positions as a high school prospect. Despite playing outside linebacker at Alabama, 247 Sports listed Sanders as an athlete, not confining him to one position. Sanders played tight end and linebacker during high school, but joined Alabama as an outside linebacker.
Sanders was one of the five-star prospects for the Tide, joining QB Bryce Young and a loaded outside linebacker class with Will Anderson and Chris Braswell. In his freshman season, Sanders played in all 13 games, earning reps on special teams and as an outside linebacker.
Chris Allen and Will Anderson were listed as the starters for the 2021 season. Sanders took over the starting job after Allen broke his foot in the season opener against Miami. In his fourth start against Ole Miss, Sanders suffered a wrist injury that sidelined him for a month.
With Allen and Sanders injured, true freshman Dallas Turner became the third starting SAM linebacker for the Tide. In seven games, Turner accumulated 8.5 sacks, establishing himself as a starter. When Sanders came back from injury, he was designated as a backup to Turner.
After Alabama's loss in the National Championship to Georgia on Jan. 10, 2022, Sanders entered his name in the transfer portal. He committed to Alabama's SEC divisional rival, the Arkansas Razorbacks, just five days later.
While Sanders played outside linebacker for Alabama in his two years at Alabama, he would have been likely to change positions if he were to start for Alabama in the 2022-2023 season. With Christian Harris leaving for the draft, Sanders would have battled for the WILL inside linebacker position with senior Jaylen Moody.
"I'm sure he will do very well at Arkansas,"
Saban said. "He is a great competitor, so I can't say enough good things about him.
Sanders will play against his former team on Oct. 1, at Razorback Stadium, when the Tide travels to Fayetteville.