Kalen DeBoers retirement could lead to one of the top recruits in Alabama’s 2024 class leaving before he plays a game for the football team.

Per ESPN’s Pete Thamel, freshman quarterback Julian Sayin intends to enter the transfer portal because he originally committed to the program “to play for Saban” and wants to explore his options now.

Sayin is a 5-star prospect and the No. 1 quarterback in the 2024 recruiting class, per 247Sports’ composite rankings.

Sayin was an early commit to the Crimson Tide in November 2022 after taking an official visit to Tuscaloosa.

“You think of the consistency, the standard,” Sayin told Chad Simmons of On3.com. “The track record with quarterbacks, with winning games, draft picks, it’s the standard of college football.

In the same interview, Sayin said LSU was “kind of leading” before he went to Tuscaloosa. He was also considering Georgia at the time. Thamel cited Ohio State and Texas as other teams on Sayin’s list.

Sayin officially signed his letter of intent on Dec. 20, the first day of the early-signing period, and he was with the team for its practices leading up to the Rose Bowl against Michigan.

Saban surprised many people when he announced his retirement on Jan. 10 after 17 seasons at Alabama. He told ESPN’s Chris Low the decision was informed by how difficult he found it to coach up to his usual standard during the 2023 season.

“Last season was difficult for me from just a health standpoint, not necessarily having anything major wrong, but just being able to sustain and do things the way I want to do them, the way I’ve always done them,” Saban said. “It just got a little bit harder. So you have to decide, ‘OK, this is sort of inevitable when you get to my age.'”

Even though Alabama was able to replace Saban with Kalen DeBoer, who went 25-3 in two seasons at Washington, the coaching change has had a significant impact on the team’s roster for 2024.

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