He started several games, including the national championship game in mid-January. Although Alabama didn’t win the game, McKinstry accomplished a lifelong dream in that appearance.
“That moment means a lot to me,” McKinstry said. “Something I always dreamed of. I always had seen Alabama play in the national championship. I always told my mom that I wanted to be a guy that played, whatever position I was playing, I just wanted to play for Alabama in a national championship.”
With UA’s sights now set on the 2022 season, McKinstry shared where he wants to improve.
“I wanted to work on being more confident in what I’m doing,” McKinstry said. “Working on my press technique, make sure I’m doing everything right. Making sure I know the full details and make sure I’m fitting straight into the scheme.”
As a sophomore, this is Kool-Aid’s first appearance with the media since arriving in Tuscaloosa, and he said a lot of good stuff. It bodes well that he’s already being given media responsibilities and seems to be on track to be a team leader in 2023.
He also mentioned that he’s giving up playing basketball for the Tide and going to focus on football.
The full conference is here below:
We also got press conferences from Bryce Young and Will Anderson in the last few days.
Bryce talked for quite a while about all of the new transfers on offense, specifically gushing over Jermaine Burton. Burton seems to have taken the bull by the horns and looks to be Alabama’s #1 receiver this year.
Young: “I didn’t get to do the in-depth film break (when preparing for Georgia games last year). I was watching the defense. But you do kind of inadvertently know all the players I feel like in SEC just from watching film, everyone has mutual opponents. I wasn’t necessarily studying anyone, but you watch everyone on film, since we’re all playing the same people. Obviously how explosive he was was what really popped.
“He also was someone that I knew before. He spent some time in California, went there his last two years I’m pretty sure in high school, so I knew him from from high school. So I kind of knew that going in. But it makes a lot of sense when you’re around him. He’s someone who comes to work every day with a great attitude. Before every walkthrough, he’s coming up to me like, ‘let’s get it’ to have a great practice, let’s get better. He wants to compete with with the corners. He’s talking to them. And also he’s just he’s willing to work, whether it’s in a meeting room, just knowing how to run things, knowing what we’re expecting, know what I like, what he likes. And then on the field, he’s always giving everything— finishing routes, finishing plays. He’s super competitive. He’s willing to go run any route, play any role, not selfish at all. So that stuff definitely popped on film and now that you get to see him in practice, you get to be around him, it makes a lot of sense why he was able to have the success he has, and I’m super excited to keep watching him.”
“The leadership has been great,” Anderson said. “We had a leadership meeting with Coach Saban (on Sunday). DJ Dale has been doing a fantastic job. Jordan Battle has been doing a fantastic job. Henry To’o To’o has been doing a fantastic job. And Bryce. So right now, all of us on leadership, everybody’s been good. Everybody’s been very receptive of what we’ve been trying to get across, the messages that we’ve been trying to get across to the team.
“It’s been good. There’s not a lot of knuckleheads in the locker room, no negativity in the locker room. Everybody’s been bought in and committed and all into what we have going on this year.”
Between Young, Anderson, Jordan Battle, and Henry To’o To’o, Alabama seems to have some major internal leadership at the most important positions with the best players. The kind of player-led leadership, focus, and desire to avenge a loss from 2021 has to amount for what could wind up being another scorched-earth version of the Crimson Tide.
Anderson also talked about the Tide unleashing a special pass rush package:
“If you have one elite pass rusher, people can plan for him and chip him and do certain things,” defensive coordinator Pete Golding said. “When you have two, I think that’s an exciting thing. I think most importantly, you have to be able to stop the run on base downs to get them in obvious passing downs to let these guys rush and do what they do best. But I think the depth at that position is what’s unique.
“You talk about Will and you talk about Dallas, which Will had a great year and Dallas, toward the end of the year, really started coming on. But Chris Braswell has been very strong. Heavy-handed, good pass rusher. We have a lot of depth at that position to where we have to do a lot as coaches to get our best players on the field and what package allows those players to stay on the field regardless of the down and distance and regardless of the personnel you’re going against.
“I think it’s going to be critical for those guys to be on the field for us to be at our best.”
Anderson was asked about the possibility of all three outside linebackers in one formation.
“It would be very lethal, very scary, a lot of good guys,” Anderson said with a smile. “I’m not gonna go into too much depth, but when the season comes, you guys will see.”
Talk about terrifying. Add in the fact that Jaheim Oatis is getting some praise from Golding about having a lot more wiggle in his pass rush than you’d expect (and apparently unblockable one-on-one), and opposing QBs are going to have a very, very bad day in 2022.
There might have been a time in the past when a defensive lineman weighing 370 pounds — or even 400 — had a place in college football as an immovable run-stuffer. But the proliferation of spread-passing attacks has shifted the role of defensive lineman from clogging the line of scrimmage to more often providing disruption to the pocket as pass rushers.
And despite his still-impressive size, Oatis could provide some of that for Alabama.
“Believe it or not, I think Jaheim has got a lot more wiggle than you guys think he’s got,” defensive coordinator Pete Golding said Sunday. “So he’s a guy internally [on the offensive line] that if you leave one guy on him, good luck.”
Anderson has noticed the same.
“I’m very excited about Jaheim,” he said. “For a guy that size to move like that, it’s crazy. Sometimes, I get distracted watching film, watching him take on blocks. It’s like a steel wall, like he’s not moving. He gets those one-on-ones and he’s in the backfield like this fast. It’s great watching him.”
In recruiting news, Alabama has two more major targets set to make their decisions this week
The ratings, of course, are subjective and it’s hard not to be pleased with the 18 commits and four five-star pledges Nick Saban and co. have already earned. As the calendar presses on toward the 2022 season, who should be on Crimson Tide fan’s radar in the 2023 prospect class?
Two four-star prospects are announcing their college football futures in the next four days. Illinois offensive tackle Miles McVay and Gardendale defensive lineman Kelby Collins could make for a “big week” for the Tide, according to 247Sports national recruiting analyst Steve Wiltfong. Securing each would help secure the trenches, where depth may be a factor next Fall.
Alabama needs to keep building this class in the trenches, and either/both of these guys would be a big addition to the class.
Finally, here’s a fun one from ESPN ranking the top 5 “Position U” schools for each position at putting players into the NFL.
For Alabama’s part, the Tide utterly dominates across the board.
DLU is Alabama
Yawn. Another category dominated by the Tide. It’s not as if they’re primarily a 3-4 defense that should be at a disadvantage in this category as a result and — oh, right, they are. Alas, Alabama has been particularly adept at developing NFL talent on the interior of late, with a defensive tackle going in either the first or second round of every NFL draft since 2016. In fact, Alabama is responsible for nearly 30% of all the defensive tackles taken in the first two rounds of the past seven NFL drafts. That’s downright incredible. Oh, and the Tide haven’t been too bad at developing ends either.
Oh, and Alabama is at the very top in terms of OL and RB, as well as in the top 4 in QBs, WRs, LBs, and DBs. Now we just need to get TE, K, and P up to speed.