After 2020 signing class additions, the Alabama football staff must rebuild the Tide’s defensive backfield. Check out the top players for new starting roles.
Opportunity abounds in the Alabama football, 2020 secondary. Once they all arrive in Tuscaloosa 14 young men will compete for six starting roles in next season’s Dime defense. Also needed will be three, ready for action backups at cornerback, safety and star. The full two-deep will officially list up to 12 players.
Despite the ample starting opportunities, there could be attrition. The portal always beckons. At the minimum, the Alabama football staff will want 11-12 defensive backs for adequate depth.
The void left from the exits of Xavier McKinney, Trevon Diggs, Shyheim Carter and Jared Mayden makes the position group suspect. Alabama football fans were sometimes frustrated with the play of Diggs and Carter. In fairness, they were far more often, good than bad. Mayden was dependable. With rare exceptions, McKinney was tremendous. Combined, their talent and experience will be hard to replace.
More difficult to replace will be McKinney’s leadership. For most of the season, he was the Tide’s ‘Alpha’ defender. The return of Dylan Moses will mean the Tide’s defensive alpha can reside in a more effective position, at linebacker.
Who has the best chance as new starters?
These players are discussed in the order of most likely to start.
- Cornerbacks; Patrick Surtain II and Josh Jobe. PSII is a lock. Jobe will have to earn a starting role again. There will be guys pushing him. Ronald Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis could take a cornerback slot. Like all JUCOs, Saban brought in Williams to play immediately. Rated as one of the top JUCO players in the nation, he can play either corner position, along with Star. The staff likes Armour-Davis. If Brandon Turnage stays at corner, he may become a factor, as well.
- Safeties; Jordan Battle and TBD are the probable safety starters. Battle got valuable playing time last season. Demarcco Hellams has a good chance to be the other starting safety. Hellams is a physical player, similar to Battle. Hellams’ size would be valuable sliding down to the Money slot in the Dime. Incoming freshman, Brian Branch will be hard to keep off the field. Branch will not arrive until summer. His best chance for considerable playing time will be later in the season. Redshirt junior, Daniel Wright has a chance to earn a key role. Wright could play the Safety and Money positions.
- Players not mentioned above could surprise. Redshirt sophomore Eddie Smith might re-emerge. Scooby Carter and Marcus Banks have the potential to become important players. So do incoming freshmen, Jahquez Robinson and Malachi Moore.
The less experienced Crimson Tide secondary will need help from teammates. More frequent quarterback pressure than last season would help considerably.