Alabama Football Signing Day: What signing Caleb Downs means

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban talks with SEC Network personality Paul Finebaum Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban talks with SEC Network personality Paul Finebaum Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football got a huge win on the recruiting trail by landing 5-star safety Caleb Downs despite late pushes from Ohio State and Georgia. Downs is the top safety in the 2023 class, and is considered by many recruiting analysts to be the best high school football player in the country, regardless of position.

Downs, a product of Mill Creek High School (GA), is ranked sixth nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings, and is the top-ranked player in Alabama’s loaded recruiting haul. He headlines an elite class of defensive backs that also includes 4-stars Jahlil Hurley, Tony Mitchell, and Bray Hubbard.

Caleb Downs has the type of talent that demands to be on the field regardless of circumstance. Looking at Alabama’s secondary situation, it appears Downs will have every opportunity to start from day one on the back end.

Senior safeties and long-time starters Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams are expected to move on from the program. Star Brian Branch, who is projected to be a first-round draft pick, could depart as well. Downs has the flexibility and versatility to fill any of those three roles. He will likely be used as a chess piece in the Alabama secondary, moving around to fill various roles in different scenarios and against different offensive schemes.

While it will have to work in some new pieces, Alabama football will have a lot of talent in its 2023 defensive backfield. Along with the incoming freshmen, Downs will battle with older players like Kristian Story, Malachi Moore, and Devonta Smith for snaps at safety.

Bama could also potentially be very good at corner. The Tide could return Kool-Aid McKinstry, Eli Ricks, and Terrion Arnold, all of whom started games in 2022. Other players such as Jahquez Robinson, Earl Little Jr., Trequon Fegans, and Antonio Kite will also push for reps.

Next. Bama lands 5-star OT Kadyn Proctor. dark

Caleb Downs has the instincts and lofty ceiling to be the best safety to play for Alabama football since Minkah Fitzpatrick. He could be an instant contributor and improve the Alabama defense upon his arrival. This is a huge pickup for the Tide, and it’s just one of many in the 2023 class.