This is the final installment in a seven-part series looking ahead to the start of Alabama’s fall camp football practice. We finish with a breakdown of the secondary.
Losing Aaron Robinson to a transfer before fall camp isn’t what the secondary was hoping for as a start to the season. It’s the second straight year a defensive back left the team during this time of year (last year it was Kendall Sheffield). Add to that the departure of Marlon Humphrey to the NFL, and it’s easy to see why Nick Saban wants to restock the cupboard with defensive backs in the 2018 recruiting class. Nevertheless, the experienced defensive backs for the 2017 team should keep Alabama’s pass defense among the elite.
Anthony Averett was a revelation during fall camp last season, when he essentially asserted himself into a starting position and never relinquished his grasp on the job. He’ll return for his second season as a starter. Sophomore Trevon Diggs made the move from wide receiver to corner in the spring and has a lot of talent. He just needs the game repetitions. A shaky A-Day game gave some pause for concern, but as fall camp opens, that’s in the rearview now. Fitzpatrick could factor in if Diggs doesn’t work out and Tony Brown has the ability to play there as well.
You’ll hear and read much this season about the greatness that is junior Minkah Fitzpatrick. If it’s possible, he’s earned every accolade that comes his way. If things go according to plan, Fitzpatrick will stay at safety. Ronnie Harrison returns for his third year as a starter and is more than just a hard-hitting, in-the-box safety. He has the ability to play the pass, too. In Dime situations, Hootie Jones comes onto the field and gives the defense a physical presence in the form of a defensive back. Deionte Thompson is also a player who has a little bit of experience and can contribute if called upon.
If the secondary runs into injury problems, depth might become an issue this season, at least in terms of experienced depth. There are some young, capable defensive backs on the roster, but learning Alabama’s defense at least from a defensive back’s perspective isn’t easily accomplished as a freshman. Some have done it (Fitzpatrick) while others needed time to develop.
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