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3 reasons why this transfer Alabama DB will be pivotal to Crimson Tide’s success

Alabama transfer DB Keon Sabb (#3) in spring practice working through drills.
Photo comes via SEC Media Portal

Alabama fans and college football fans are highly intrigued by the Crimson Tide’s defensive secondary.

Some believe that Caleb Downs’ decision to transfer will severely hurt Alabama. Other names — including Earl Little II, Antonio Kite, Jake Pope, Jameer Grimsley, and Peyton Woodyard among others — left the Tide for the NCAA transfer portal as well.

RELATED: 3 reasons why this Alabama freshman DB will be the most impactful newcomer

Alabama kept core pieces like Malachi Moore, DeVonta Smith, Jahlil Hurley, and Brayson Hubbard, but it also signed talented freshmen and grabbed guys from the portal. Keon Sabb, a transfer from Michigan, may be the biggest part to the Tide’s success in the coming season. The New Jersey native has fit in well with Alabama’s secondary and had a really good spring. Could he be the most significant transfer on defense to help the Tide win a national title? Three reasons are below on why he will be.

1. Leadership

Keon Sabb brings much needed leadership from a Power Five program to Tuscaloosa, Ala.

He played in several significant games in the Big Ten, so a massive stage does not frighten him.

The 6-foot-1, 208-pounder lives for the moments to have the crowd’s reaction in the palm of his hand. He leads by example, but Sabb has no problem with being vocal with teammates on the backend. Sabb caught on quickly to Alabama’s culture in spring practice from Malachi Moore, but now he is prepared to make sure the secondary and linebackers are in place. Downs’ departure opens an opportunity to Sabb to eat in the 4-2-5 defensive system and become a high-round draft pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

2. Production 

Sabb recorded 28 tackles, five pass breakups, two interceptions, and a pick-six in 14 games last year.

He made plays in the secondary for the Wolverines that led to it winning a Big Ten Championship and advancing to the College Football Playoff. Sabb had a role in getting Jim Harbaugh his first national championship as a head coach, but now he has the same chance to assist Kalen DeBoer to one. Kane Wommack’s “Swarm Defense” fits perfectly for Sabb to have huge production.

RELATED: OPINION: 3 reasons why Kalen DeBoer will win first national championship at Alabama faster than Nick Saban did

He possesses the ability to track the football, create interceptions, break up passes, and make punishing hits as a free safety.

Alabama will have Malachi Moore in the box, so it will free up Sabb for more plays.

3. National Championship Experience

Alabama football is in a three-year national title drought, but it signed a player from the portal that won a championship in 2023.

Sabb brings valuable experience to the Tide’s defense on how to win a national title. He saw Michigan battle its way to the finish line with a victory over Washington in the 2024 CFP National Championship Game. Alabama has Moore, Tim Smith, Quandarrius Robinson, and Jah-Marien Latham as holdovers from the 2020 CFP National Championship team, but Sabb’s championship with the Wolverines is fresh. The secondary will draw from his expertise and be better for it.

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Stephen M. Smith is the senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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