NEW ORLEANS — At this time last year, Will Anderson Jr. was having a little fun with Alabama’s newest passer.
Upon joining the Crimson Tide last December, freshman quarterback Ty Simpson joked that he was going to plead for mercy from Anderson before taking scout-team snaps against the star edge rusher. After seeing the comment, Anderson approached the young quarterback, telling him “You don’t have to worry about me hitting you right now, but just know that in the springtime, you gonna see me all the time. I’m gonna always be in your face.”
Incoming Alabama quarterbacks likely won’t have to worry about Anderson next spring as he is projected to be a top-five pick in next year’s NFL Draft. However, early enrollee Eli Holstein still had to fend off the five-star defender while providing a scout-team look for the Crimson Tide in its preparation for Saturday’s Sugar Bowl against Kansas State.
Don’t worry though, the incoming freshman is just fine.
“The difference between Eli and Ty is Eli, he’s kind of quieter than Ty,” Anderson said Thursday. “Ty came in talking a little bit of that junk, and I like that. I love that actually. Eli, he’s been a little bit more quieter and stuff like that. I tried to get him fired up a little bit, but he doesn’t go for it too much.”
To be fair, Holstein’s 6-foot-4, 222-pound frame makes him a little tougher to mess with on the field anyway. The sturdy right-hander comes to the Crimson Tide rated as the No. 10 pro-style quarterback and No. 110 overall player in the 2023 class. In his three years as a starter at the Lousiana Class 5A level, he threw for a combined 5,720 yards and 54 touchdowns with 11 interceptions while piling up 1,037 rushing yards and 23 scores with his legs.
After helping out Alabama with Sugar Bowl prep this week, Holstein’s next step will be preparing for his first spring camp with the Crimson Tide. While watching out for Anderson shouldn’t be an issue, the freshman quarterback should have his hands full competing for the likely opening behind center due to Bryce Young’s likely departure.
“Eli, him being around, you can tell he’s trying to learn everything as quickly as he can,” Young said Wednesday. “Again, like I said, we’re so deep into the game-planning and stuff, it can be hard when you’re just now trying to learn the offense. But he’s done a good job of understanding stuff. He’s been very attentive in the meetings, soaking everything in. And the reps he gets, obviously, when you first get here, you’re on scout team and you’re doing your best to try to figure everything out there.
“But from the things I’ve seen, all the individual drills and everything, he’s done a really good job of how he carries himself and how he can throw the ball. So I’m excited to continue to watch more.”
Holstein joins fellow four-star signee Dylan Lonergan as Alabama’s two latest additions behind center. Last week, Nick Saban said he was happy with quarterbacks, calling the young passers “great people” with “really good potential.” The two freshmen wil join Jalen Milroe and Simpson in what will likely be a crowded quarterback room next season.
“I think with this day and age you really want to make sure when you know basically guys to leave your team whenever they want that you have enough guys at each position and that they want to be the kind of guys that want to develop at that position,” Saban said last week. “So I think both of these guys are very much committed to that. So I mean, other than that, they’re the kind of guys that we want, and I think they fit the profile of what we need at the position.”