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Returning starters: Patrick Surtain II, Shyheim Carter, Trevon Diggs, Xavier McKinney
Starters Lost: Savion Smith, Deionte Thompson
Defining terms is important and while some starters in the secondary are obvious, others are dependent on alignment. An old-school 4-3-4 is rare and UA is usually in nickel or dime. So a two-deep roster in dime formation would mention 12 defensive backs. In almost any formation, Surtain, McKinney and Diggs (who missed the postseason in 2018 with a door injury) are starters. Sophomore Josh Jobe has been a constant as well. Shyheim Carter has started at nickel although he has split time with senior Jared Mayden for most of August camp.
NEWCOMER TO WATCH
If you narrow the term “newcomer” down to mean “freshman,” the nod would probably go slightly to safety Jordan Battle who has been visible in second-unit work for most of August. At cornerback, the most-seen freshman has been Marcus Banks. If you include redshirt freshmen, Jalyn Armour-Davis is in the mix.
YOU NEED TO KNOW
That still leaves several players who could contribute. A week ahead of the Duke game, names that would also be included in a 12-man “two deep” would also include junior Daniel Wright, sophomore Eddie Smith, freshman safety DeMarco Hellums (who drew a rare press conference mention from Nick Saban) and freshman Brandon Turnage, who has been hampered by injury.
There is plenty of talent to work with. Diggs, Surtain and McKinney are certainly high-pick NFL Draft choices when the time comes and there are others that could reach that level. Injuries were an issue last season as was the lack of a consistent pass rush but Saban and assistants Karl Scott and Charles Kelly have a chance to forge major improvement.
Alabama has no returning player who had more than two interceptions in 2018. Saivion Smith led the team with three.
“In the secondary, (I’d) you have one guy go down, if you have diversity, you can still get the best guys in there that have the most experience because they have the diversity to play multiple positions. That’s what we look for.”
— Nick Saban