Trevon Diggs was on pace for a strong junior season.
The Alabama cornerback was entrenched as a starter in 2018, led the team with six pass breakups through as many games and finally grabbed his first career interception. But then he went down with an injury during Alabama’s game against Arkansas in early October. A broken foot prematurely ended his season.
“I wasn’t on the field for six months,” Diggs said Tuesday. “When I got back out there, I was kind of rusty, kind of timid. But once I started going, it started to ease up. It’s good to be back. It was a humbling experience.”
And it taught him a few things.
When he was sidelined, Diggs didn’t want to just stand around. He instead learned the sport from a different perspective, one that has helped him this spring as a veteran with the younger players.
“I got to see how I can coach and help other people and help myself as well,” Diggs said. “There are more aspects to the game than just playing and doing it.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban has played with Diggs’ location in the secondary this spring. Lately, Diggs has been working at Star – lining up in the slot when Alabama uses its nickel package – rather than his usual boundary cornerback spot.
No complaints from Diggs.
“You’re more in the action every play,” Diggs said. “You’re running off blitzes. You’re covering the fast guys when you’re in the slot. You have to make calls, make adjustments. You’re running across the field.
“There’s a lot you have to learn, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a fun position.”
That’s where former Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick first established himself. He won both the Chuck Bednarik Award and Jim Thorpe Award in 2017 before being drafted in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to the Miami Dolphins.
That’s also where Fitzpatrick truly stepped up as one of the Crimson Tide’s leaders, which Diggs hopes to do as well.
“I like how the younger guys ask me questions and stuff like that,” Diggs said. “They can follow me. It’s like when I was in their position, I was asking him the questions and he was trying to make me better. So, it just feels like I’m getting old.”
Diggs is one of four returning starters in the Crimson Tide’s secondary. That’s a lot compared to this time last year when Alabama had no returning starters from the previous season.
Along with Diggs, there’s Shyheim Carter, Xavier McKinney and Patrick Surtain II.
“There’s definitely a lot more experience with the guys we have now since we have game experience and a lot of us have played in the game,” McKinney said. “I think that’s a big thing. It helps us with our chemistry.”
Carter and Diggs are the seniors.
Last year might have ended prematurely for Diggs, but he’s now 100 percent healed, healthy and ready to go.
“I also learned that you couldn’t take anything for granted,” Diggs said. “Make the most of all your opportunities. Every opportunity you get, you can’t take it for granted.”
Reach Terrin Waack at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.