Coming into last season, Alabama had to replace both starters at safety following the departures of Xavier McKinney and Jared Mayden. As expected, there were some early season shenanigans, particularly in Oxford where Ole Miss TE Kenny Yeboah rolled the Tide for 181 yards and two scores. This group progressed well throughout the season, however, and by the time they faced Ohio State, calling safety a position of strength was defensible.
Depth will be a bit of an issue in the spring as neither of the Tide’s premier safety signees, Terrion Arnold and Kaine Williams, were able to enroll early.
#9 Jordan Battle - Jr.
After seeing significant time in the dime package as a true freshman, Battle came into his own last season and flashed some of the brilliance that made him a top flight recruit. He was clearly the best of the bunch at the position, particularly as a tackler where he added 66 stops to his four passes defensed and one interception for a touchdown. Ideally sized for the NFL at 6’1” and 210 lbs., he will be the leader of the secondary this season and will look to make another leap to cement first round status.
#29 Demarcco Hellams - Jr.
Hellams started the season as the third safety behind Battle and Wright, but as the season wore on he saw more and more playing time. His play was far from perfect, but he seems to have decent instincts back there and was far more consistent as a tackler than Wright. The two will likely battle for playing time once again, but it’s tough to imagine Hellams not being in the starting lineup going forward.
#3 Daniel Wright - Sr.
There wasn’t a more mercurial player on the roster than Wright last season. To be sure, there were some spectacular moments, highlighted by the pick six in College Station, but there were also mental mistakes and shoddy tackling at time that hampered his ability to hang onto a starting job. Wright returns for his senior year and a final audition for potential NFL suitors, but he likely has an uphill climb with the emergence of Hellams.
#11 Kristian Story - RS Fr.
Story is an exciting player that many Alabama fans want to see on the field. Story was Mr. Football in Alabama for the 2019 season after leading Lanett to the 2A state championship as the QB. Solidly built as a sophomore at 6’1” and 215 lbs., he will look to push for playing time in the dime package this season. There are many talented players competing for that final spot, however, so it won’t be easy. Story is most likely relegated to special teams this season, with an eye toward 2022.
This is a solid group that will need to be on its game as the Alabama offense finds its way early in the season. The tackling against Ohio State was very good and the deep shots were limited. That will need to continue if Alabama is to repeat, and there is plenty of reason for optimism that it will.