Alabama Football: What will Tony Mitchell’s role look like?

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

What will Alabama Football get from true freshman safety Tony Mitchell in his first season on campus? Competition is stiff in the Alabama secondary, but Mitchell was a borderline 5-star recruit who may have the talent to contribute early.

Tony Mitchell’s future at Alabama was briefly up in the air after his March arrest in Florida. He was suspended from team activities, but appears to have taken all the necessary steps since then and was reinstated earlier this month.

Mitchell returned to a slightly different-looking safety room after the addition of veteran transfer Jaylen Key in May. The freshman from Thompson will likely have to work his way up from the back of a room that looks a little more crowded now than it did in January.

Fellow true freshman Caleb Downs is on another level, and is presumed to be a virtual lock to start at one of the safety spots. Several veterans will compete for the other spot, including Key and returning seniors Malachi Moore and Kristian Story.

It is unknown who will ultimately man that position on the first team defense. Many of the aforementioned players are also intriguing at the star position, so it is possible Mitchell could make headway there as well.

Alabama Football: 2023 Expectations for Tony Mitchell

By all accounts, Tony Mitchell is very talented, but it’s difficult for me to envision him cracking the starting lineup in 2023 with so much experience on the back end for Alabama Football. Malachi Moore has been a standout player in the past, and will very likely start somewhere in the secondary.

Kristian Story, like Moore, has been on campus since 2020. It’s doubtful that Jaylen Key would have been added from the transfer portal if there wasn’t a role that he is expected to fill. This doesn’t even account for veteran reserves like DeVonta Smith, or other promising young players like Jake Pope, who looked like a future star on A-Day.

Mitchell has the skills and physical traits to eventually be a star himself in the Alabama secondary. I would not be surprised to see him making contributions on the field this fall, I just don’t think it will be as a starter.

At the end of the day, Mitchell hurt his chances to earn playing time by getting in trouble and costing himself an entire spring’s worth of practices and scrimmages.

During that time, he missed out on valuable instruction and on-field reps, as well as opportunities to bond with his teammates. Simultaneously, other players at the safety position were making impressive strides and showing their own value.

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In spite of this setback, Tony Mitchell figures to be a good player for Alabama Football, and I’m intrigued to see what his role will look like in year one.