Trey DePriest came to Alabama with much fanfare as part of the heralded Class of 2011, representing Saban's first big "get" outside of the south. A consensus five-star ranked #1 at his position and in the top ten nationally by scout.com, who played his high school ball less than an hour from The Horseshoe in Springfield, OH, it surprised many when DePriest spurned the hometown Buckeyes in favor of the Crimson Tide. As a youth he was particularly close with injured Ohio St. QB Braxton Miller, saying of their relationship in a Sugar Bowl media event, "We grew up in Springfield together. We played Peewee [football] together. We played middle school ball together. He went to a different high school, but we've been friends throughout school. We first met at Peewee football practice. I went to a different elementary school, but same middle school. He could throw the ball 70 yards in the seventh grade. We used to talk about playing in a big game one day, but we never thought it would be like this."
Trey came in as a big, physical throwback MLB prospect and showed quite a bit of promise as a freshman, garnering some garbage time snaps on a defense that ranked among the best in college football history. He finished with 25 tackles on the season, with 14 of those coming on special teams. Indeed, the coverage units allowed Trey to show off both his tackling ability and leadership skills as he clearly put everything he had into anything he was asked to do. On defense he showed flashes of mastery as well, calling the shots late in games once Dont'a Hightower and company were done for the day. It was evident early that young Trey had a great head for the game and a nose for the football.
As a sophomore, DePriest became a full-time starter for the first time. He was the primary MLB for the Tide's national title run, tallying 59 tackles including four for loss despite coming off the field in most nickel packages as the MLB often does. He seemed to have a great chemistry with WLB CJ Mosley, the two forming arguably the best set of ILBs in the nation. Trey followed up the 2012 campaign with a solid junior season in 2013, contributing 65 tackles including 7.5 for loss, two sacks, and two forced fumbles while leading a rush defense that was once again one of the best in the nation. The only question mark on Trey was his ability to play in pass coverage, something that he would need to improve upon to become the every down superstar that his counterpart Mosley had become.
Trey was anointed the leader of the defense heading into his senior season as Mosley departed for the NFL draft. He has not disappointed in that regard, leading the Tide with 81 tackles while forcing a fumble and calling all of the defensive sets on a 2014 unit that ranks #11 nationally in raw data and #1 against the rush, even stronger when considering advanced metrics. He is still developing in coverage and may be a bit limited athletically for NFL teams' tastes, but he currently rates as a mid-round prospect who will have the opportunity to climb draft boards during the workout circuit. Any team will be hard-pressed to find a player with a better football IQ or one that tackles with more authority. He has had an outstanding career at Alabama already with an opportunity to leave with three national championships on his resume, and it's only fitting that the last one would require a January win over those very Buckeyes. Roll Tide, Trey.