Fall camp is officially underway for the crimson tide, which means we are inching ever so closer to the return of meaningful football in our lives. It’s an important time for the incoming freshman to get their toes wet in the process and also for the new coaches to build on their roles from spring practice.
But with a lot of the attention going towards guys like quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, defensive tackle Raekwon Davis or even youngsters like rising freshmen Tre Sanders or Emil Ekiyor, it’s very easy to forget about the other sophomores and upperclassmen who may be on their last chance to give a good impression.
These are players who have either patiently waited for an opportunity or who need to finally play to their potential so they can carve out roles on the team before it’s too late.
If there’s one thing everybody knows it’s that at nearly every position on the roster there is competition and some players more than others will need to really impress during camp.
Here are a couple of players who need to have big fall camps on the defensive side of the ball:
The redshirt senior finally seems to be getting his crack at being the second starting middle linebacker for Alabama this season. Over his first three seasons in Tuscaloosa, McMillon’s playing time has been scarce. He has only appeared in 18 total games for the crimson tide, but he did see action in 10 games in 2018. Even though he came in as the no. 6 inside linebacker and the 171st overall player all the way back in 2015, it can’t cover up the inexperience he has in big games at Alabama. Which makes his work in the early part of the season that much more important.
However, McMillon is coming off of a big spring game where he excited the crowd with an impressive pick-six in the early portions of the game. At the moment he has separated himself from the other backers, but he should still strive to dominate and solidify his role in the heart of the defense.
Another senior who has patiently waited his turn throughout years of NFL players in the secondary, Jared Mayden needs to take advantage of this opportunity. Recently is feels as if Alabama always has a lot of depth in the secondary and Mayden was a big part of that depth in 2018 and in the team’s dime package. The 205 lb safety made appearances in every game and was integral to slowing down Georgia’s passing game in the SEC Championship.
With Deionte Thompson being a member of the Arizona Cardinals, Nick Saban and the rest of the staff will look to Mayden to step up into the role. But he will not do so without facing some competition. Redshirt sophomore Daniel Wright has also been in the mix to start at safety. Although Mayden seems to be favored at the moment, a lot can happen between now and the start of the season.
We all know what Trevon Diggs can do when he’s on the football field. In a shortened 2018 season, he was able to garner a ton of praise from coaches and NFL scouts. Yet the only reason he needs to be able to put up an impressive fall camp is to show that he is back healthy. Sure starters have returned after having injury-shortened seasons in the past and have walked right back into their roles. But like I said before, Alabama’s secondary is loaded with talent. One guy, in particular, could be a dark horse to start this season and that man is Josh Jobe.
Jobe was one of the most impressive players in the spring has he made big leaps in his man coverage and set the tone physically during A-Day. Although Diggs and Jobe worked at somewhat different spots in the secondary, if Diggs shows to have lost a step from his injury it would not be surprising at all to see a player like Jobe get called upon.
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77