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Kevin Steele bringing the nastiness back to Alabama’s defense

Kevin Steele during his time as a linebackers coach and defensive assistant for Alabama.
Photo by Crimson Tide photos

A new feeling has arrived at the University of Alabama football program on defense.

The Crimson Tide had been known for its stingy defense since Nick Saban became the head coach in 2007, but it did not live up to the moniker in five seasons under Pete Golding. Golding was on Saban’s College Football Playoff National Championship staff in 2020; however, most credit Steve Sarkisian and Alabama’s offense for winning the championship. The mentality of discipline, toughness, and making the opponent quit was not at the forefront for the Tide in the last two years. Saban had to return to the standard of “The Process” he set, and he got it done before it was too late. He parted ways with Golding and brought in someone he trusts. Kevin Steele, 65, started the culture of dominance in 2007 and 2008 as a defensive coordinator, defensive head coach, and linebackers coach. He set up the Tide for its BCS National Championships in 2009, 2011, and 2012, though he was elsewhere.

RELATED: Steve Sarkisian details how Nick Saban saved his career

Steele assisted Alabama to a Southeastern Conference Championship in 2014 as a linebackers coach. His mentality in spring practice has players ready to run to a national title. Terrion Arnold, a redshirt sophomore, told reporters Monday that this defense can be ‘really, really good.’ He said if the Tide can do the little things right, it will have one of the best defenses in school history. 

Steele has returned Alabama’s defense to having competition at each position. 

Players are battling for starting jobs on the defensive line, at linebacker, and in the secondary. The Tide is deep at every positional unit, but Steele is making sure the best athletes take the field in the fall. He was impactful during Alabama’s 4th Quarter Program, helping athletes gain healthy weight and drop weight. The guys on defense look stronger, faster, and prepared to inflict pain on the opposition. Hopefully, Steele has the players carry the mentality into summer workouts, preseason camp, and the season.

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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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