EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third installment in a series looking ahead to the start of Alabama football fall practice. Today, we look at the defensive back position.
This could be one of the more deep positions defensively for Alabama in 2019. There are four starters returning, including Xavier McKinney, who was third on the team in tackles as a sophomore. He steps into a bigger leadership role for this season.
Shyheim Carter played primarily in the Star position last season as a junior. He came on strong against Auburn and Georgia, breaking up three passes in each game. Carter is a versatile player who can also play cornerback and should be a big contributor again this season.
Patrick Surtain III started in 12 games at cornerback last season as a freshman and had seven pass breakups and one interception.
Trevon Diggs is back in the secondary after missing half the 2018 season with an injury. He had six pass breakups in the six games he started before the season-ending injury against Arkansas.
Jared Mayden, a senior, was a big contributor in 2018 and also made an impression during spring drills. He will compete for a starting role during fall camp.
All eyes will be on Jayln Armour-Davis, a redshirt freshman who missed all of last season with a knee injury. One of the top-ranked defensive back recruits for the Class of 2018, he likely would have seen playing time.
Sophomore Josh Jobe is another highly-ranked Class of 2018 recruit to keep an eye on. He saw action last year, playing in 12 games. Junior Nigel Knott and sophomores Daniel Wright and Eddie Smith will get a chance to step up this season as Alabama looks for players to provide depth.
It was a banner recruiting class for Alabama in the defensive back department. Alabama got five secondary recruits, including Jordan Battle, the second-ranked safety in the Class of 2019 recruiting class by 247sports.com.
The other Crimson Tide safety freshman signee, DeMarcco Hellams, was ranked No. 8. The prospect of Hellams, 6-foot-1, 213 pounds, or Battle, 6-1, 201, or even both seeing playing time is fair considering the departure of last year’s starter Deionte Thompson.
Three incoming cornerbacks will also be high on the radar this fall: Jeffery ‘Scooby’ Carter, Brandon Turnage, and Marcus Banks.
Alabama would have liked for Thompson and Saivion Smith to return for another season instead of opting for the NFL. Still, the loss of two significant players shouldn’t hinder Alabama’s depth for 2019.
There were some issues with the secondary last season, the primary one being injuries. Having Diggs and Armour-Davis back healthy is a big bonus for a Crimson Tide defensive backfield looking for solid depth.