The wait for Alabama football will soon be over as the Crimson Tide announced it will begin its fall camp on Friday. The Tide will hold 23 practices as well as two closed scrimmages as it gears up for its season-opener against Miami on Sept. 4 inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The next month will be pivotal in determining how Alabama lines up this season. Before the Tide breaks for camp, BamaInsider will examine each position group by taking a look at two key storylines. Today we continue the series with the secondary.
Can Jobe take over as Alabama’s lockdown corner?
The loss of Patrick Surtain II is going to sting — at least at first. SEC Defensive Player of the Years aren’t easily replaced, especially when they come in the form of 6-foot-2, 200-pound cornerbacks with NFL pedigrees.
Depending on who you ask, Surtain was the top cornerback in the nation last season. Pro Football Focus thought so and gave him an 89.9 defensive grade, the highest among players at his position. The Denver Broncos were also big fans, snapping him up with the No. 9 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
While Surtain might have been the first name opposing offensive coordinators circled when going up against the Tide, the man on the other side of the secondary didn’t make life much easier.
Fortunately for Alabama, it could have another first-round cornerback on its hands in Josh Jobe. The hard-hitting senior quietly put together a strong season last year, finishing second on the team with 11 pass breakups while recording 55 tackles with two sacks and two forced fumbles. According to PFF, he ranked sixth nationally, allowing a reception every 20 coverage snaps.
Jobe was especially good at defending deep balls, holding opposing quarterbacks to a 22.6 percent completion rate on balls thrown his way 10 or more yards downfield. According to CFB Film Room, that’s the third-lowest such completion rate among SEC defensive backs since 2016.
If Jobe is going to lead Alabama’s secondary, he’ll need to improve his discipline on the field. The emotional defender led the Tide with 11 penalties committed last season, seven more than the next player on the list. Things were especially rough late in the season as he was flagged six times in Alabama’s final three games.
Will Kool-Aid get into the mix?
It was around this point last year that Malachi Moore began his first-team ascent at Alabama. Despite not joining the team until last summer, things worked out well for the Trussville, Ala. native as he went on to start 10 games at the Star position while earning SEC All-Freshman honors.
This year, a new in-star freshman is pushing to earn instant playing time in the Tide’s secondary. Since joining the team as an early enrollee in January, Kool-Aid McKinstry has wasted no-time making a name for himself.
The five-star defensive back with the flashy nickname comes to the Tide as the No. 1 cornerback and No. 1 player in the state of Alabama. He lived up to that hype this spring as he capped off an impressive camp by recording three tackles, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup and an interception during the A-Day game. Mckinstry now heads into the fall battling with redshirt junior Jalyn Armour-Davis and junior Marcus Banks for the starting cornerback role vacated by Surtain.
McKinstry, 6-foot-1, 180 pounds could stand to add a bit more bulk but offers the length Nick Saban covets at the cornerback position. The Birmingham native also appears to be taking well to coaching, which could see him shoot up the ranks over the next month.
“Every day Coach Saban gets on him about getting better and he feeds off of it,” safety Jordan Battle said following the A-Day game. “Every day he gets better with trying to get things corrected and today showed that he’s made a lot of improvement and he made a lot of plays out there.”