They may not be the biggest players on the field, but cornerbacks still have a role to play. Corners have to be physical with receivers as well as play the ball.
In the past, a cornerback’s primary job was to play the receiver. Nowadays, corners are called upon stuff the run and pressure the quarterback. Despite being physical, having top-tier speed is vital to the success of a cornerback. As more explosive receivers enter college football, corners have to rely on good starting speed and even better recovery speed.
Its strength on defense has come from the linebacker position; however, Alabama has managed to recruit and produce some of the best hard hitting and versatile cornerbacks in college football.
Top 8 Cornerbacks of All-Time
8. Javier Arenas (2006-09)
- Arenas was under the leadership of Mike Shula and Nick Saban
- In his tenure at Alabama, Arenas recorded 154 tackles, seven sacks and six interceptions.
- He was a good lock down cornerback, but a better return specialist.
- Arenas broke Derek Abney’s SEC record for career punt return touchdowns with seven.
- His career 1,752 punt return yards and 2,166 kickoff return yards are school records.
- Arenas averaged 14.0 yards per punt return and 24.1 yards per kick return.
- He was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2009.
- Arenas was a consensus All-American in 2009.
- He was an SEC champion in 2009.
- Arenas won a national title with Alabama (2009 season).
- He was selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Arenas has played five years in the NFL and is currently with the Atlanta Falcons.
- He has totaled 148 tackles, 5.0 sacks and two interceptions in his career.
7. Mark McMillian (1990-91)
- Despite being a transfer, McMillian made an impact on the team in his two seasons.
- Under head coach Gene Stallings, McMillian started 22 games at right corner.
- He totaled three interceptions for 167 yards and a touchdown in his career.
- McMillian made two bowl appearances with the Tide (1991 Blockbuster Bowl Champions 30-25 over Colorado).
- McMillian helped Alabama achieve an 11-1 record in 1991.
- He earned the nickname “Mighty Mouse” for his height and leaping ability.
- McMillian put eight years in the National Football League.
- He led the NFL in interception yards in 1997 with 274.
- McMillian ended his career with 23 interceptions for 404 yards and three touchdowns.
6. DeShea Townsend (1994-97)
- Townsend was under the leadership of Gene Stallings and Mike DuBose.
- He amassed seven interceptions in his career, including four interceptions in 1995.
- Townsend recorded 256 punt return yards in his career.
- He was a two-time SEC West Division champion in 1994 and 1996.
- Towsend made two bowl appearances with the Crimson Tide.
- He was drafted in the fourth round of the 1998 NFL Draft (Pittsburgh Steelers).
- Townsend played 12 seasons in the NFL. 11 of those were with the Steelers.
- He is a two-time Super Bowl champion (Super Bowl XL, Super Bowl XLIII)
- Towsend ended his NFL career with 369 tackles, 15.5 sacks and 21 interceptions.
5. Don McNeal (1977-79)
- Under head coach Paul Bryant, McNeal blossomed into a special player.
- He collected five interceptions in his career, including three interceptions in 1979.
- As a return specialist, McNeal totaled 11 kickoff returns for 193 yards.
- He made three bowl appearances with Alabama.
- McNeal was a 3x SEC champion and Sugar Bowl champion in 1977-79.
- He was a two-time national champion in 1978-79.
- In 1992, McNeal was selected as a member of the University of Alabama All-Centennial Team.
- He played in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins for nine seasons (1980-89).
- McNeal made two Super Bowl appearances with Miami (Super Bowl XVII, Super Bowl XIX).
4. DeMarcus “Dee” Milliner (2010-12)
- In his career, Milliner recorded 133 tackles (9 tackles for loss), 1.5 sacks, six interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
- In 2011, Milliner finished second on the team with nine pass breakups and led Alabama with three interceptions.
- As a junior, Milliner totaled 51 tackles with two interceptions and 18 pass breakups. His 18 pass breakups ranks third on Alabama’s single-season list.
- He had 34 pass breakups in his career, which tied him second nationally among active players.
- Milliner was a unanimous All-American and First-team All-SEC in 2012.
- He was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Jim Thorpe Award in 2012.
- Milliner was an SEC champion in 2012.
- He was a two-time national champion (2011 and 2012 seasons).
- Milliner was drafted in the first round (ninth overall pick) by the New York Jets in the 2013 NFL Draft.
- So far, he has 56 tackles, three interceptions and 17 pass breakups with the Jets.
3. D’Andre L. “Dre” Kirkpatrick (2009-11)
- Kirkpatrick embodied the personality of a hard-hitting cornerback.
- He collected 87 tackles, three interceptions, 16 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
- Kirkpatrick was an important piece of the 2011 Alabama defense that led the nation in all five major categories (points allowed, total defense, pass defense, rush defense and pass efficiency defense).
- He was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2011.
- Kirkpatrick was a First-team All-American in 2011.
- He was a two-time Second –team All-SEC (2010, 2011).
- Kirkpatrick was an SEC champion in 2009.
- He was a two-time national champion (2011 and 2012 season).
2. Jeremiah Castille (1979-82)
- Castille came in the latter years of Paul Bryant.
- His career 16 interceptions was a school record in 1982.
- Castille was an SEC champion and Sugar Bowl champion in 1979.
- He won a national title with Alabama in 1979.
- Castille was huge for the Tide in the 1982 Liberty Bowl. He had three interceptions and Alabama defeated Illinois 21-15.
- He was named to the College Football All-America Team in 1982.
- Castille played five seasons in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- He played in Super Bowl XXII as a member of the Denver Broncos.
- Castille had two sons to play at Alabama, Simeon and Tim Castille.
- Antonio Langham (1991-93)
- Under coach Stallings, Langham became a decorative player.
- He totaled 19 interceptions in his career (school record).
- Langhman is widely-known for his interception in the 1992 inaugural SEC Championship Game against Florida.
- His 28-yard interception return for a touchdown gave Alabama a 28-21 victory and helped change the landscape of college football
- Langham won numerous awards in 1993, including consensus first-team All-American, Jim Thorpe Award and Jack Tatum Award.
- He was an SEC champion in 1992.
- Langham was a national champion (1992 season).
- He was selected as the ninth overall pick (first round) by the Cleveland Browns in the 1994 NFL Draft.
- Langham played seven seasons in the NFL. He collected 345 tackles and 14 interceptions.
Honorable Mentions: Donnie Sutton, Kareem Jackson and Simeon Castille