Alabama Football: Which true freshmen will contribute in the secondary?

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Mater Dei v Serra / Aubrey Lao/GettyImages

One position group that will look essentially brand new for Alabama Football in 2024 is the secondary. The Crimson Tide sent three defensive backs to the NFL Draft in cornerbacks Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry and safety Jaylen Key. It also lost several transfer DBs, the most important of which were safety Caleb Downs (Ohio State) and cornerback Trey Amos (Ole Miss). 

Fortunately, one of the biggest areas of turnover on the whole roster also coincided with perhaps the strongest aspect of Alabama’s 2024 recruiting class. The Tide is bringing in six defensive backs, including three 5-star recruits, who may be able to contribute immediately in the secondary.

5-star in-state product Jaylen Mbakwe and 5-star California native Zabien Brown are one of the most college-ready cornerback tandems in the cycle, and could factor in immediately at a position that returns very little experience

Another 5-star, Zay Mincey of Daytona Beach, Florida, may be the most physically imposing defensive back in Bama’s class. He is a versatile piece that could earn snaps at corner or safety, as well as in the nickel. 

Alabama also added 4-star safeties Peyton Woodyard and Red Morgan. These two will have older players to beat out, including senior Devonta Smith and sophomores Tony Mitchell and Bray Hubbard. The safety position is a question mark for the time being, but there is enough talent in this room for it to eventually become a strength. 

The Crimson Tide also brings in legacy 3-star defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick Jr. Bama fans will remember Dre Sr. as a standout on Nick Saban’s early teams in Tuscaloosa, and one of the best cornerbacks in college football at the time. Dre Jr. is an underrated athlete in his own right, classified as a 3-star cornerback. He will be right in the mix along with Mbakwe and Brown in the spring competition at corner. 

These six defensive back additions help to bolster a position group that was nearly stripped clean by offseason attrition. It will be interesting to see which of them, and how many, will contribute as true freshmen this fall.