Alabama Football: One star will be left out of secondary mix

102420 Ut Bama Gameaction
102420 Ut Bama Gameaction /

Who will Alabama football start in the secondary?

Heading into the 2020 season, the secondary was a key weakness for Alabama football. It turned into a strength over the course of the year, and the Crimson Tide relied heavily on these players in the postseason. The unit was the perfect mix of young and old talent, and many members of the secondary will come back in 2021 with valuable experience.

The only starter in the secondary who will be gone is Patrick Surtain at the outside corner position. With just one hole in the starting lineup, this appears to be a simple solution for the Tide. However, things are going to get complicated in 2021.

There are six players in the secondary who got quality reps in 2020. While Daniel Wright was the starter for most of the year, it is safe to assume that the emergence of DeMarcco Hellams will bump Wright to the second string unless he improves this offseason. Even with him out of the equation, Alabama football has five players with star potential in the secondary. There are five slots open in nickel coverage, but this unit is not ready to plug and play at these five positions.

Since Surtain was an outside corner, Alabama needs to find an outside corner to replace him. Jobe will start at one slot like he did last season, but the other four stars from 2020 are better at safety. Malachi Moore has been a slot corner, but his skill set does not transition to the outside. The same goes with Brian Branch.

Regardless of who starts at outside corner, either Malachi Moore, DeMarcco Hellams or Brian Branch will be out of the starting lineup in nickel coverage. Moore started all year until he went down with an injury, so he should remain at the star position. After all, he is the future of the Tide secondary.

Assuming that Daniel Wright loses the starting job, Hellams and Branch will compete for the starting safety role. Hellams seemed to have the edge in 2020, but Branch finished the season strong when Malachi Moore went down.

There is also a chance that Alabama football could simply transition to more dime coverage. That puts six defensive backs on the field, which would include all of these players. If the Tide can feel confident that their defensive line can handle the trenches without extra help, this is a solid option.

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This just proves that it isn’t as simple as placing your best players on the field and winning the game. Alabama will have depth in the secondary, and this does not even mention the recruiting class. Either way, this will be an interesting story to follow.