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Alabama Football Impact Players

Young Tide LB growing into new role

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Transition and versatility are simple facets of Alabama football.

In reflecting on the Crimson Tide’s 2015 recruiting class, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Deionte Thompson and Lester Cotton all experienced a moment where they had to be shifted in creating more favorable opportunities.

Fitzpatrick stands as the most successful of the three, as he’s lined up at cornerback, safety and star (nickel/dime) through two seasons in Tuscaloosa. Despite signing a trio of three stars on defense in 2015, only one remains. Keaton Anderson enters his third year at Alabama next season. A native of Florence (Ala.), he enrolled as an underrated outside linebacker prospect. The redshirt sophomore was a tackling machine at Florence High School, totaling 362 career stops with 171 tackles and 4.5 sacks coming as a senior in 2014.

Following his redshirt year, Anderson started to flash as a gunner on special teams.

All four of his tackles occurred on kickoff and punt coverage a season ago, including a career-high two tackles versus Washington in the Tide’s 24-7 victory at the Peach Bowl. His speed, toughness and tackling prowess earned him special teams player of the week honors from UA’s coaching staff in games against the Huskies, LSU and Kentucky. Anderson would recover a muffed punt late in the season versus Chattanooga, helping the team earn a 31-3 win.

After signing Ben Davis and Mack Wilson at linebacker, Saban moved Anderson to the secondary in the summer of 2016. With the additions of Dylan Moses, VanDarius Cowan and Markail Benton for this class, Anderson primarily works under the eyes of position coach Derrick Ansley. Throughout spring practice, he’s seen reps alongside Ronnie Harrison, Hootie Jones, Deionte Thompson and others at safety.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 231 pouds, Anderson has the speed to be firm on the back end. Should he continues to improve his technique, Tide fans could see him on more than just special teams.

Stephen M. Smith is a managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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