The Tuscaloosa News will review the Alabama roster by examining each position group entering spring practice. The Crimson Tide held its first spring practice Friday, March 8 and will resume after UA’s spring break ends Monday, March 18.
Spring football prospectus: Secondary
Starters returning: Shyheim Carter, Trevon Diggs, Xavier McKinney, Patrick Surtain II
Departed: Keaton Anderson, Kyriq McDonald, Saivion Smith, Deionte Thompson
Others returning: Jalyn Armour-Davis, Josh Jobe, Nigel Knott, Jared Mayden, Eddie Smith, Daniel Wright
Newcomers: Scooby Carter
Confidence level: 8/10
Starting point: The physical presence Alabama will have at cornerback is striking. Trevon Diggs is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, while Patrick Surtain II is also 6-foot-2 but 203 pounds. They’ll be a tough matchup for many wide receivers in 2019, and having both players means losing Saivion Smith won’t create a hole on the depth chart. Xavier McKinney played beyond his years as a sophomore and will likely be a preseason All-SEC candidate.
Don’t underestimate the value of Shyheim Carter, either. He may be the most versatile player in the secondary. It’ll be interesting to see where he starts spring practice but also where the coaches try him. He had an excellent season in the slot and made progress all year, but he could also fit at safety if needed. That would open up the star position to one of Alabama’s younger players.
Even with so much coming back, this group could still improve on its play from 2018. But it has much more talent than most and is much deeper than this time a year ago.
To be determined: Four freshmen from 2018 all look like they could be important pieces of the defense in the future. Jalyn Armour-Davis, Josh Jobe and Eddie Smith were all in the two-deep at some point during the season. Surtain became a starter, but that doesn’t mean the others aren’t capable. Jared Mayden and Nigel Knott are the veterans of this group, and where they find a spot is worth watching. Mayden saw some more time late in the season when more injuries required him to play dime.
Alabama may have to make some moves here to fill the safety spot left by Deionte Thompson. This might have been the strongest unit on the team had he returned. There’s plenty of time and talent to get things figured out, but it probably won’t come together on day one.