The Tide’s passing defense allowed 187 passing yards at a paltry 54% completion rate and less than 1 TD per game in 2022, which was their best overall performance since the 2017 season. A major part of that success was the emergence of Kool-Aid McKinstry ascending to a near All-American level, but it was complemented by the Tide not being an utter disaster at the spot opposite him, as has often been the case on previous iterations of Alabama squads.
Coach Travaris Robinson’s hire before the 2022 season also needs to be mentioned here, as the massive improvement in deep sideline ball coverage across the board has to be attributed to his coaching. And with Kevin Steele coming in, the DBs as a whole will likely play a more aggressive press-man philosophy more often, leading to more pass breakups.
Steele tends to be pretty adaptable with his schemes/formations, so I expect that the nickel corner, or Star, position will continue to be more of a safety than a corner. So for the purposes of this preview, I will only be including the ones I expect to be outside corners. There is always some crossover every offseason, though.
- Eli Ricks - The LSU transfer didn’t quite materialize as a superstar as we had hoped. Injuries and scheme change hampered his acclimation and we didn’t really even see him until halfway through the season. He had one amazing game for the Tide and a couple of other nice plays down the stretch, but never really became a true starter. In any case, he’s testing out the NFL now.
- Khyree Jackson - Jackson was a JUCO transfer two seasons ago whose hard-hitting tackling had fans excited for him. However, getting torched multiple times when pressed into action in the national championship game against Georgia pretty much doomed him, and he lost his hold on the starting job going into 2022 and hit the transfer portal to Oregon in December.
Kool-Aid McKinstry - Can you believe Kool-Aid is already a junior and on his last season in Tuscaloosa? After being forced into action due to injuries at the end of his freshman year (and performing admirably), he locked up a starting role and locked up every WR in conference in 2022.
Kool-Aid McKinstry has been playing at All-American level this season. He leads the SEC with 11 pass breakups. pic.twitter.com/63KNWwOaCu— Kendell Hollowell (@KHollowell_) October 28, 2022
He was #1 in the SEC and #4 in the nation in passes defended and was a first team All-American by PFF as well as multiple other 2nd and 3rd team All-American awards and All-SEC awards.
McKinstry is set to resume his role and, if he continues his trajectory, should be a betting favorite to win the Thorpe award in 2023.
Terrion Arnold - Initially recruited as a two-way basketball and football athlete, most thought Arnold was going to play safety at the college level. Seemingly out of nowhere, he wound up winning the other starting corner job opposite of McKinstry last year as a redshirt freshman.
It was an up-and-down season for him. He had some bad plays, and some really, really impressive ones. He was passed up for the starting job for Eli Ricks for a bit, but ultimately got it back.
He’s an extremely impressive athlete, but never quite looked totally comfortable playing down the sidelines. There’s some thought he might move over to safety now that the Tide is sending all three starters from last season to the NFL.
- Jahquez Robinson - The senior has quietly stuck around for 3 straight years without any playing time and didn’t immediately transfer. We still don’t know much about him, but he’s got good size at 6’2” 200
- Tre’Quon Fegans - Another 6’2” guy from Birmingham, Fegans was a press coverage specialist in high school that redshirted last year.
- Antonio Kite - Kite also redshirted last year as a freshman. He’s a little smaller and speedier than Fegans and Robinson, so he brings a different style. He could also play safety.
- Dezz Ricks - The 5-star DB was actually a high school junior that reclassified mid-season. He’s got crazy talent and, despite missing a year of high school, has played at all the top levels and showed out in every camp circuit for years. He’s got an extremely high ceiling, and many think he could be a day 1 starter.
- Jahlil Hurley - Hurley is a versatile DB who was once a top-ten recruit at corner before switching to safety as a senior and seeing his ranking plummet. For now, we’ll expect he moves back to corner.
Way-too-early depth chart peak
Kool-Aid is obviously one starter. And while Terrion Arnold has the fast track to reprising his role from last year, the fact that he didn’t fully hold down the position in 2022 means he’s not totally safe, especially with two highly-rated prospects coming in.
Will Terrion Arnold be the day 1 starter at outside cornerback in 2023?
This poll is closed