Alabama Football: Cornerback competition opposite McKinstry


Alabama football returns one of the top cornerbacks in the nation in junior Kool-Aid McKinstry. In his first draft-eligible season, expect McKinstry to lock down one side of the field while making more plays both on defense and on special teams.

Kool-Aid McKinstry became a really consistent cover corner in his sophomore season. His 15 pass breakups ranked fourth nationally and led the SEC. As the season progressed, he got better at playing physical in coverage without drawing penalties. He has two career interceptions, and has shown proficiency as a blitzer off the edge with two career sacks.

However, across from McKinstry, Alabama football had something of a revolving door at the opposite corner position. There was no consistency, and there is no established player returning at the position.

Khyree Jackson began the 2022 season as the starting corner, but was replaced after a couple shaky performances. Jackson has since entered the NCAA transfer portal and landed at Oregon.

Eli Ricks took over in the latter portion of the season and gave Alabama some much needed stability at cornerback. Like McKinstry, Ricks is an NFL-caliber corner, and the pair complemented each other well.

Following the conclusion of the season, Ricks was one of the last dominoes to fall for Alabama’s 2023 roster. He had a huge decision to make, and ultimately opted to enter the NFL draft.

The other player that earned starts in the 2022 season was Terrion Arnold, who will be a redshirt sophomore in 2023. Arnold was better than many Alabama fans give him credit for, starting seven games and being named to freshman All-SEC and freshman All-American teams.

While Arnold did not always maintain good technique in coverage, he was solid given his youth and inexperience at the position. He finished the season with 45 tackles, eight pass breakups, an interception, and a fumble recovery.

As of now, he is likely the leading candidate to start at the other cornerback spot, but Terrion Arnold also has the versatility to play safety or star.

Other potential competitors include true sophomore Earl Little II, redshirt junior Jahquez Robinson, and true sophomore Tre’Quon Fegans. None of these three have previously gotten significant playing time, but any one of them could make a jump in development this offseason.

Alabama also brings in some talented true freshmen at the position in Desmond Ricks and Jahlil Hurley.

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Alabama football does not have a bona fide answer at cornerback just yet, but competition should be stiff throughout the 2023 offseason. This competition will make all parties involved better players, and whoever starts on opening day will have certainly earned their position.