Alabama Football revamped its secondary this offseason after losing four defensive backs to the NFL and two more to the NCAA transfer portal. Bama brought in a loaded secondary group in the class of 2023, and then added two incoming transfers that will hopefully be able to make an immediate impact in some capacity.
It is well-known that Amos is competing with incumbent starter Terrion Arnold for the open cornerback position, but what is Jaylen Key’s standing on the roster?
Alabama Football lost three talented players to the NFL Draft at safety, which is Key’s natural position. The void left by the departures of multi-year starters Jordan Battle, Brian Branch, and DeMarcco Hellams is sizable, but Bama brings in reinforcements that are far more versatile.
Veteran Malachi Moore and stud true freshman Caleb Downs will likely start in the secondary, but both are movable chess pieces that defensive coordinator Kevin Steele can deploy in a multitude of ways.
Early indications are that Downs will start at one of the safety spots, leaving the other momentarily vacant. Kristian Story and DeVonta Smith are both older players that will push to start at the open safety spot, while redshirt freshman Earl Little II will likely join Moore in the rotation at star.
Jaylen Key comes to Tuscaloosa with one year of eligibility, and should immediately be a contender at safety. Kristian Story is currently battling injury issues, which has given Key a golden opportunity to get critical first team reps. Both Key and junior DeVonta Smith have played with the first unit at free safety, a competition that will continue to persist throughout fall camp.
Will Jaylen Key be a day one starter after joining the Alabama Football program just three months ago? It is very possible. Regardless, his experience, physicality, and propensity for making plays makes him a welcome addition to an Alabama secondary that was gutted by departures after the 2022 season.