Game week is finally here, as is the long-awaited answer to the following question: What will be the most important position for Alabama Football in 2023?
I believe that position is cornerback. More specifically, the starting cornerback position opposite preseason All-American Kool-Aid McKinstry. McKinstry is expected to be one of the nation’s top cover corners, and should lock down one side of the field. Will the other side develop into a vulnerability? It wouldn’t be the first time in recent years.
In fact, the second corner has been an Achilles’ Heel for the Crimson Tide over the past three to four seasons. Whoever earns the job in 2023 will probably see a lot of early targets as opposing quarterbacks work to avoid the playmaking McKinstry.
The good news for Alabama Football fans is that redshirt sophomore Terrion Arnold appears to have the edge at corner, and he can potentially be a shutdown corner in his own right.
Arnold gained a lot of experience last season, and has grown significantly this offseason. The former safety is very physical and rangy at the line of scrimmage, and continues to rapidly improve as he learns the cornerback position on the fly.
Arnold has also been pushed by transfer addition Trey Amos. Amos also played well in fall camp, and will not relinquish the job easily. This is the type of internal competition that can make the Crimson Tide a championship contender this fall. Arnold and Amos may also be the cornerback tandem of the future.
Both figure to play critical roles in 2023, as Alabama Football doesn’t have any experienced depth behind its top three corners. Redshirt freshmen Earl Little II and Antonio Kite could compete here, but both project better at the star position. True freshmen Dezz Ricks and Jahlil Hurley are very talented prospects in the long term.
The ability of Alabama Football to put two impactful corners on the field will go a long way towards the Bama defense reaching that championship level. High-powered offenses like Texas and Tennessee will look to exploit mismatches, but this Bama secondary can eliminate those advantages.