Alabama Football secondary to become a team strength

A defensive backfield group with only four returning players will be a team strength for Alabama Football.
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

When Caleb Downs and Trey Amos (and others) decided to leave the Alabama football program, college football naysayers predicted the Crimson Tide would have a major weakness in its 2024 secondary. The knee-jerk reaction was not devoid of insight. Downs was a freshman All-American and Amos was to be a sure starter at cornerback.

What the naysayers got wrong was focusing on the player exits rather than honestly reviewing the talent left on the Crimson Tide roster. In addition, the Alabama football staff did an outstanding job landing top-level, transfer defensive backs.

The transition has gone so well, that the 2024 Alabama football secondary should be considered a team strength. Check out an 'outsider' opinion from 247's Brad Crawford. Crawford ranked the SEC's top 10 defensive back groups for the 2024 season. He ranked Alabama's secondary No. 2.

What SEC football teams do have a troubling weakness at defensive back? Not in Crawford's top ten are Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Arkansas, and Auburn, along with possible Playoff contenders, LSU and Tennessee. As Crawford says, "There's nothing like having a ballhawk starting at cornerback or hard-hitting safety lurking in centerfield."

Crawford considered overall talent, projected production, and depth. His No. 1 is Georgia. The Crimson Tide at No. 2 will surprise some who have discounted Alabama's talent and depth at defensive back.

Kane Wommack, Maurice Linguist, and Colin Hitschler have abundant talent to utilize. Four defensive backs returned from the 2023 roster. Five transfers were added along with the top freshman group of defensive backs in college football. The 14, scholarship defensive back group includes so much talent the top six or seven who rise to the top are going to be outstanding.

2024 Alabama Football Secondary

  • Cornerbacks: Domani Jackson, a USC transfer is expected to start; Dashawn Jones, a Wake Forest transfer is a probable starter based on two seasons of playing experience. Possible starters include three freshmen Zay Mincey, Jaylen Mbakwe, Zabien Brown, and redshirt freshman Jahlil Hurley. Hurley was a 4-star recruit in the 2023 class. The trio of freshmen were 5-stars, ranked by On3 as the No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 cornerbacks in the 2024 class.
  • Safeties and Husky: Alabama is in good shape for safety starters in Malachi Moore and either Michigan transfer, Keon Sabb, or Penn State transfer King Mack. Moore is a vocal team leader who when healthy, has played well for the Crimson Tide. Sabb was a 4-star in the 2022 class and was ranked by On3 as the third-best transfer safety in this cycle. Bray Hubbard provides depth at safety. Redshirt Junior, Devonta Smith is the leader to start at Husky. Smith will be backed up by freshman Red Morgan, whose preseason performance warrants meaningful snaps in 2024.
  • Charlotte transfer, redshirt freshman Kam Howard adds depth, with the ability to play safety or cornerback. He is not the only Crimson Tide defensive back with the ability to play multiple positions.

Enthusiasm for the Tide's defensive back group must be tempered by the reality that they must learn to play together. Until they do, and that could take until mid-season, there will be mistakes opponents can turn into explosive plays. While the new 'attacking' Alabama football defense is expected to be an improvement over last season, the defensive style also carries some vulnerability to give up big plays. Crimson Tide fans may have to be patient but the 2024 Alabama football secondary is going to be very good, late in the season when it most matters.

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