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Saban’s pedigree as a defensive backs coach will likely be put to the test in 2014. While there’s still more than enough talent on hand to field a stout secondary, this is a unit that is in somewhat of a transition period after personnel losses and two straight poor efforts to close out last season.
As has been the case in recent years, the Tide will have an All-American caliber presence to anchor the secondary in junior safety Landon Collins—who racked up 69 tackles and a pair of interceptions last season.
Junior Geno Smith and senior Nick Perry will fight for the job opposite Collins, while senior Jarrick Williams is back to reprise his role at the star spot in nickel packages.
Perhaps the Tide’s biggest question mark is at corner, and with the indefinite loss of sophomore Eddie Jackson due to a torn ACL, the Tide are left with few proven options to fill out the two outside spots.
Junior Cyrus Jones—who converted from receiver to corner prior to last season—is the team’s most experienced option. Junior Bradley Sylve and sophomore Maurice Smith have also seen limited snaps, but neither has done anything to cement a spot in the rotation.
Help is on the way courtesy of a pair of incoming 5-star recruits in Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey. Brown, in particular, looked impressive during the spring as an early enrollee.
However, despite the incoming talent, Collins and Williams are still the only known commodities among the starting unit. While there is incoming talent, growing pains could be felt—especially early in the season.