Nick Saban goes inside Alabama’s development of CB Anthony Averett

Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

Senior defensive back Tony Brown is usually the first to celebrate when Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ronnie Harrison, Hootie Jones or any other member of Alabama’s secondary makes a play. 

So, it came as no surprise that after cornerback Anthony Averett recorded his first career interception his first chest bump would be with Brown.

The first of hopefully many picks came last week versus Fresno State at Bryant-Denny Stadium, as the New Jersey native was credited with getting the lone turnover of the contest.  

Averett turned in four tackles in the Crimson Tide’s 41-10 win over the Bulldogs, but his consistent production has been a carryover from last season.

During his first year as a starter, he compiled 48 total tackles and a team-high eight pass breakups – shutting down some of college football’s most elite wide receivers. He held Washington’s John Ross in check at the College Football Playoff semifinal (Chick-fil-A Bowl), limiting him to just five catches for 28 yards. 

Through two games, he’s second on the team in tackles (10) and despite having big-bodied receivers catching passes over him, Averett has been in perfect coverage more times than not. 

Before Alabama’s run to the national title game in 2016, the 6-foot defender was a scout team player. He played on both offense and defense at Woodburry High School, accounting for career 198 tackles and 11 interceptions while posting 1,278 rushing yards, 836 passing yards and 29 scores as a senior in 2012. 

He signed in the Tide’s top-ranked 2013 class; however. Averett had to develop into be a seasoned defensive back – per Alabama head football coach, Nick Saban. 

“Anthony is like a lot of guys that never really played the position in high school,” Saban said.  

“I think it takes a little longer for them to develop if they ever play a new position, especially when you take a player from offense to defense and he hasn’t played defense much.” 

Coming out of high school, Averett juggled both football and track.  

Garnering a four-star rating, he was listed at No. 211 in the ESPN 300 recruiting network and chose the Crimson Tide over Penn State, South Carolina, Iowa, West Virgina and Tennessee. 

“We recruited Anthony off his athleticism, his speed and his good ball judgment,” Saban said.  

“He’s worked hard and he’s become a very good player for us. You have to have some guys like Anthony Averett in your program who are willing to sacrifice time to develop and be a good player. His example is one that others should look at.” 

After waiting behind so many impact names, Averett got his opportunity last season and continues display leadership.

Having guys like him, Fitzpatrick, Harrison, Brown and others on defense keeps the Tide’s chemistry in line.

As it tries to create more depth at linebacker with providing young players some action, the secondary will be called upon to generate turnovers.

Stephen M. Smith is the 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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