Caleb Downs, S
The most highly touted new addition to Alabama’s secondary this year is the nation’s No. 1 rated safety recruit in the 2023 class in the 247Sports Composite and On3 Industry Ranking, freshman Caleb Downs. The 6-foot and 200-pound first-year safety is set to make an immediate impact on the Alabama defense as a starter in the secondary.
Downs got off to an impressive start in his first start for the Tide, garnering SEC Freshman of the Week honors for his efforts in the win over Middle Tennessee last weekend. He finished up with a team-high eight combined tackles, one tackle for loss, and two defensive stops.
The talented true freshman showed excellent read and react ability and closing speed in Week 1. Saban praised Downs for his efforts in Week 1 in his first start for the Tide.
"“He plays fast, he’s physical. I think that was a really challenging game, especially for a young player to have to play with all the formations and adjustments that we had to make. And I think he handled it really, really well.”"
Downs is a safety with tremendous football instincts and IQ, gifted physical tools, strong technique, and sticky coverage ability. He’s one of the SEC’s most versatile and talented safeties, and he’s just a true freshman.
In Saban’s infamous Cover 7 defensive scheme, Downs has proven to be a very capable safety who is smart in coverage and quick to find the ball carrier in run defense. Saban’s defensive concepts are difficult for a true freshman to digest, showing how far along Downs is as a first-year starter at strong safety.
And given the news that Alabama starting free safety and UAB transfer Jaylen Key is day-to-day due to an injury issue, there will be even more responsibility placed on Downs’ shoulders in practice this week heading into the Texas game. Key reportedly was set to miss practice on Sep. 4 due to injury.
Downs will easily be one of the best young safeties redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers, and the Longhorns face this season.