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Is Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry the best cornerback returning to college football?

Alabama CB Kool-Aid McKinstry (#1) intercepts a pass during 2022 matchup against Austin Peay at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Gary Cosby Jr. - USA Today Sports

He returns as Alabama’s most experienced boundary cornerback, but is Kool-Aid McKinstry the best corner in college football?

As a native of Birmingham, Ala., he showed signs of it last season. He recorded 15 pass breakups (team-high) and forced quarterbacks to throw away from him toward the end of 2022. McKinstry had an interception, two fumble recoveries, 35 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack. The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder was a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award and earned a spot on multiple All-American teams. He also excelled as a punt returner, ranking second in Division I with 332 punt return yards.

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McKinstry has an opportunity to become a first-round pick with a strong season next fall. Pro Football Focus has him as its top cornerback. McKinstry took a huge leap in PFF’s grading scale, improving from 67.9 in 2021 to 82.5 last year

It will be interesting to see who plays across from him next season. Terrion Arnold has some experience, but Earl Little II is very talented and could win the job. Alabama has depth in its defensive secondary, but the leadership of McKinstry starts everything.

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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 @CoachingMSmith.

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