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Alabama Football Film Room: Averett a lockdown corner

Anthony Averett had some big shoes to fill in replacing Cyrus Jones. He’s filled them well.

NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Averett was one of the least hyped members of Alabama’s secondary. Marlon Humphrey came into the season with talk of being drafted in the first round while Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison were freshmen phenoms.

Averett was a four star safety from the Class of 2013 who redshirted his first year and then saw most of his playing time on special teams the next two years, partially due to injury. The departure of Cyrus Jones to the NFL left a hole at corner for 2016, though; and Averett emerged as the top option when Alabama went to its nickel and dime packages.

Picked on right from the get-go against USC, Averett would settle down and steadily improve. This progress has quietly turned him into a lockdown corner. While he has yet to record an interception, Averett leads the team in pass break-ups with 7.

1st and 10: Averett is at the bottom of the screen in press coverage on his receiver, Donald Gray. Tony Brown shows blitz from the nickel, and Minkah Fitzpatrick comes down from his safety position to cover the slot receiver. This leaves Averett on an island against his man, and QB Nick Fitzgerald knows it. He fakes the handoff and lofts one to Gray, who’s just running a fly route. Averett is running with him. He turns his head to locate the ball while keeping a hand on Gray. He swats at the ball with his right arm while he gets his left in between Gray’s hands, and he knocks the ball away for an incompletion.

3rd and 11: Averett’s at the top on the stacked receivers. He starts backpedaling, dropping deep. He keeps his eyes on the quarterback, however, and quickly transitions from the backpedal when he sees Fitzgerald going to Fred Ross on a quick screen. Ronnie Harrison does a good job of running past his block, which takes away any chance LT Martinas Rankin has of getting over to block. This leaves Averett one-on-one against Ross; and Averett handles it perfectly, acting decisively and taking Ross’s legs out from under him.

2nd and 10: Averett is in press man against his receiver, Fred Ross, at the top of the screen. He mirrors Ross, turning and running alongside him. Averett plays him close and physical never allowing him to get any separation. With no room to run, Ross can’t get to where Fitzgerald places it; and the pass falls incomplete.

3rd and 5: Averett is in single coverage on Fred Ross again. Averett begins to turn; but Ross cuts on an in route, not really disguising it. Averett matches and stays right on top of him, not wasting a single step. There’s a lot of contact, but Averett is playing the ball the whole way. He does a good job of staying inside the receiver’s left shoulder, and Ross doesn’t really have much of a shot against that coverage and with a high throw.

2nd and 10: Averett is at the top, giving about an 8 yard cushion to his man. Donald Gray fakes a post route, drawing Averett a step or two inside; but his speed allows him to easily recover. He maintains contact with Gray as he turns his head to find the ball. He does. Averett plays it perfectly and deflects it. Another incompletion.