In years past, National Signing Day in February marked the end of the window for teams to make all of their moves to add new talent to their roster for the next year. With the transfer portal now having nearly limitless timelines, that window has extended, and Alabama has found themselves with three new players set to come to Tuscaloosa since we finished up our series scouting all of the additions here at Roll Bama Roll.
OL Tyler Steen and WR Tyler Harrell are both transferring from other Power 5 programs, while TE Miles Kitselman is a bit more of a traditional late pickup as a JUCO transfer who the Tide happened to find when scouting for 2023 guys.
If any more players wind up transferring to Alabama before the season, they’ll be added to this article.
Steen was once a 3-star defensive lineman out of St. Thomas Aquinas who got on the field a bit as a backup for Vandy as a true freshman before switching to offense and becoming an immediate starter at right tackle as a sophomore. He moved to left tackle as a junior and helped anchor one of Vandy’s better offenses in recent memory, finding himself named as a preseason All-SEC player heading into his senior year, where he finished out his career as a stalwart LT for the Commodores. He used his Covid 5th year to enter the portal as a grad transfer, and will be looking to add a veteran presence to Alabama while building a case for himself in the NFL.
Steen is a smooth, technical, and heads up pass blocker who can shut down any speed rush with his effortless backpedal and patient hands. He utterly dominated Ole Miss’s Sam Williams (just picked in round 2) last year throughout the course of a full game. Speed rushers just can’t get past him.
With that, though, comes the issue that he can get off balance when players cut across his face back to inside. At times, he showed perfect footwork to stay in front of inside counters and spins, but if someone started with a bullrush to force him to start trying to anchor himself and then cut inside, Steen would fall forwards.
This is less about his feet, and more about his play strength, I think. He also showed similar issues of really leaning into blocks when trying to block in power runs. He’s not naturally as strong as many SEC defensive linemen, and then has to overcommit to getting low.
Back to the positives, though, Steen is highly aware of stunts, blitzes, and other defensive scheming. When he’s blocking, he’s always already looking around to make sure there are not other defenders trying to overload certain areas, and he does a phenomenal job of managing to pass off one defender to pick up another... Or if he has no help, he makes the right decision to block the defender with the shortest path to the QB, and often is still able to shift around and hip check the free rusher while maintaining his current block.
Steen is an All-SEC-level pass blocker and a passable run blocker on zone plays, but is going to be a bit overmatched in power blocking and short yardage. With as much as Alabama passed with Bryce Young last year, that falls right into Steen’s wheelhouse.
He can play left or right tackle, but is likely best suited on the left, where teams are more likely to send their best speed rushers on passing downs.
Steen didn’t grad transfer to Alabama to be a backup. He’s more polished and a better pass blocker than any tackle currently on the Tide’s roster, and as such, I fully expect him to be Alabama’s starting left tackle in 2022
Tyler Harrell was a 3-star recruit out of Miami that signed with Louisville back in 2018. As a high school player, he recorded a 4.41 forty yard dash and a 10.37 100m dash. After redshirting his first year, Harrell did not see much action in the next two seasons, only catching two passes for 36 yards in 2019 and then not getting any snaps in 2020.
In 2021, though, Harrell finally made it onto the scene, catching 18 balls for a ridiculous 559 yards and 6 touchdowns.
He ran a 4.24 forty yard dash at Louisville’s Pro Day back in 2021.
Assuming Harrell took advantage of a Covid year back in 2020, he will be a redshirt junior in 2022, and could have two seasons of eligibility with Alabama.
Obviously, the pure speed is the main talking point for Harrell, and he’s going to be compared a LOT to Jameson Williams. I think he doesn’t quite have the galloping stride that Jameson did, and is not as polished of a route runner. But he comes from a disjointed offense with a QB that did a whole lot of scrambling around, and so never got to show a whole lot.
Harrell has nutty acceleration, and can pull away from defenders even out of a dead stop after having to make a catch on a poorly thrown ball. He’s not a guy that’s going to juke a man right in front of him, but instead will just accelerate away and obliterate any angles.
As a route runner, he’s most used as a deep threat, and shows a nice technique of looking one direction and cutting another to throw off defenders down the field. He’s also excellent with exploding into a stop on deep curl routes that can send defenders sprawling as he gets to pick up the easy 10 yards. Those two routes, along with long-developing drags, made up pretty much the bulk of his production. I did see a couple of reps against press coverage and liked his hand usage, though he was a little too happy to waste a couple of steps doing a flashy sidestep, rather than just going.
To me, though, the most impressive part of Harrell’s game was not his speed, but his hands. When he caught the ball, he snatched it. Whether it was over his shoulder, fighting a defender on a jump ball, making a diving catch an inch above the ground on a deep crosser, a shoestring grab on a curl, or a diving sideline toe-tapper, he ALWAYS snatched the ball with a surehanded grip that left zero doubt that ball was not going anywhere.
All in all, he showcased a rather impressive gamut of different types of adjustments to bad throws on his 18 catches.
Harrell played both slot and outside for Louisville. I expect him to do the same for Alabama, similar to Jameson Williams, and should mostly be used to either get downfield, or use his speed to run off defenders and make the chain-converting 3rd down catches.
I went into this study expecting to find a speedy track guy with limited wide receiver ability who will be a rotational deep threat... And came out viewing Harrell instead as a go-to 3rd down player who’s going to bail out Bryce Young quite a few times this year and make quite a name for himself.
This is an interesting late add for the Tide, as Kitselman is a player who basically has no recruiting profile, and apparently the staff only found him while recruiting some 2023 prospects at Hutchinson C.C.
Alabama’s staff was the first to find him, and after he committed, he picked up scholarship offers from hangers on in Missouri State, Indiana State, Austin Peay, Southern Illinois, North Alabama, Northern Colorado, and Louisiana.
Kitselman is, without a shadow of a doubt, being recruited for his blocking abilities.
He’s a big guy at 250 pounds, but displays quick feet when blocking, which makes him excellent at getting downfield blocks and stuff around the sidelines. He’s a 360-degree blocker who’s got good peripheral awareness of where his ballcarrier is and can shuffle himself around in a circle to always keep his defender on the wrong side to allow for nice running lanes.
He’s not a powerful drive blocker, but as a guy who can move downfield and make blocks out in space and turn guys away, he’s much more polished than most high school TEs.
As a receiver... Well, he had 3 total catches for Hutchinson last year. He’s got decent quickness and can slip open on seam routes, but will take some major work from Alabama’s coaching staff on his route running, as he takes about 5 unnecessary steps on his releases and on any change of direction on his routes.
His hands seem fine, but with only 3 catches to his name, there’s really no way to tell.
Alabama returns Cam Latu and backup Robbie Ouzts from last year, and the rest of the TE room is made of true freshman, one of which is Amari Niblack, who is essentially a big receiver.
As such, the Tide desperately needed some additional depth for the position going into fall camp and the season.
Kitselman should easily slip in and fill the role of a blocking TE who helps round out the depth there, especially if Kendall Randolph winds up moving permanently to the OL instead of as a hybrid TE.
I think we see Kitselman make a few appearances this year in rushing packages around the goal line, or in some late game blowouts. I do not expect him to be a major contributor, though.