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Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold continue to grow as Alabama’s starting cornerbacks

Alabama defensive back Terrion Arnold (3) celebrates against Texas A&M at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on Saturday, Oct 8, 2022.

Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold have earned Alabama’s starting cornerback roles with their consistent play.

The former five-star recruits have continued to grow as a duo for the Crimson Tide. McKinstry has started at cornerback for Alabama every game this season, and Arnold has started five of Alabama’s six games, including the last four. Nick Saban said the pair has been the Crimson Tide’s most consistent cornerbacks this season ahead of Alabama’s win over Texas A&M.

“I think both guys have played well, have not given up a lot of big plays,” said Saban. “I think that is the key to the drill, keeping people cut off in the deep part of the field, playing the ball in the deep part of the field. They have been good tacklers. They have played the ball in the deep part of the field, they have played man to man fairly well. Those are probably the most critical factors for them to be successful. The other guys are doing fine too, but these guys have been the most consistent.”

Arnold and McKinstry had a similar path to Tuscaloosa. Both were five-star recruits and were considered top athlete prospects in the 2021 recruiting class. Both were also considered basketball prospects coming out of their respective high schools.

Likewise, both have had to overcome challenges this season. Arnold was tested early against Utah State in his first career start and was taken out the game after he gave up a catch. He redeemed himself the following week by stepping up against Texas when he was put into the game to cover Longhorns’ wide receiver, Xavier Worthy.

Arnold’s latest performance against Texas A&M was filled with ups and downs, but he stepped up in the biggest moment by playing great coverage on Evan Stewart on the last play of the game.

“I feel like that is why coach Saban does a great job of preparing us,” said Arnold after Alabama defeated Texas A&M. “The moment never felt too big for me. I was just happy to be in perfect position.”

Texas’ wide receivers got the best of McKinstry in Austin a few times, but the Alabama native was able to make some critical plays late in the game. McKinstry has held his own from that point on, and he has become a dangerous punt returner. Saban feels McKinstry is a smart competitor.

“Kool-Aid is very competitive, a very smart guy, is a hard worker,” Saban said When discussing McKinstry. “Kind of understands what it takes to be successful, does a really good job of applying techniques and trying to do things the right way. I think these kinds of guys that have this kind of competitive character are smart, make good choices and decisions in the game, whether it’s what technique to use. The guy I’m covering, how do I need to do it? All those things enhance a guy’s ability to be successful, and Kool-Aid does that extremely well.”

Arnold and McKinstry will have their hands full this weekend when Alabama takes on Tennessee’s explosive passing attack.

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Justin Smith is a Scouting/Recruiting analyst for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via @Jdsmith31Smith

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