This is the sixth of a seven-part series looking ahead to the start of Alabama’s spring football practice. We continue with a breakdown of the secondary.
It’s the biggest question surrounding the 2018 team, and given the realities that face the secondary this season it’s only natural. Alabama lost its entire starting secondary, all the way to the dime defense. That’s six defensive backs gone, including Minkah Fitzpatrick, Anthony Averett, Levi Wallace, Ronnie Harrison, Hootie Jones and Tony Brown.
Trevon Diggs actually started the first game of the season against Florida State, but he quickly gave way to Wallace, who never let the starting job go after that. Diggs enters spring with an opportunity in front of him. Saivion Smith is a junior college player who will majorly factor into the conversation. Jared Mayden and Shyheim Carter are also players who will get looks this spring. Carter is a player who has a chance to take over for Brown at the Star defensive back position. With a new position coach in Karl Scott, who takes over for Derrick Ansley, it will complete the new-look Alabama secondary.
Deionte Thompson earned valuable experience when Hootie Jones went out for the season in the Auburn game. Thompson showed his athleticism during the playoff run, and also proved he can be physical too. This spring is a chance for Thompson to solidify his position on the defense while also staking his leadership claim to the secondary. A couple of freshmen who proved they were ready to take the next step were Xavier McKinney and Daniel Wright. Both players earned rave reviews from their teammates and coaches last season. Veteran Keaton Anderson, who has mainly served as a special teams player is also a player who will compete.
Nick Saban works hands on with the secondary and no matter how much turnover there was in the unit from a season ago, people just expect the secondary to play well. That’s just the way it is with Saban’s Alabama team. Will the junior college transfer (Smith) push for a starting job? How valuable will the now-sophomore tandem of McKinney/Wright be? A new position coach along with an all new unit will make it must-watch during the spring.
Reach Aaron Suttles at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.