Caleb Downs, S
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive back is among the top positional needs for the Longhorns to address in the portal. Texas is ushering in a new era for this secondary entering the SEC in 2024.
The defensive backfield, specifically the safety position, was the most inconsistent group on this Texas defense when it mattered in 2023.
Safety was one of the first position groups the Texas defensive staff addressed via high school recruiting and the portal heading into the offseason. Texas added multiple elite talents from the high school ranks in the 2024 class, namely five-star safety Xavier Filsaime and high-four-star cornerback Kobe Black.
Texas also landed an immediate impact DB in the transfer portal last month in the former Clemson Tigers junior safety Andrew Mukuba.
Terry Joseph and Blake Gideon have done a nice job adding high level talent and depth to upgrade the secondary in 2024. But this secondary will be very green this year given the current roster construction. Most of the two-deep depth chart in the secondary will be underclassmen, many of which are true freshmen early enrollees.
If Texas had the chance to add proven talent and experience at defensive back early this offseason via the transfer portal, I'd like to think the staff would jump at the opportunity. That's why if a player such as Freshman All-American Alabama safety Caleb Downs jumped in the portal in the coming days/weeks, it's hard to imagine Texas not reaching out immediately.
Whenever a player of Downs' caliber shows up in the transfer portal, you make the call right away. It's as simple as that.
Downs was the nation's top freshman safety in 2023. He's got elite physical tools with the ability to cover just about anyone in the secondary and play downhill to blow up the ball carrier in space. In many ways, Downs was among the most important players on this Alabama defense last fall.
It's noteworthy that Alabama did lose defensive coordinator Kevin Steele to retirement roughly 24 hours before the Saban news this week. If Alabama loses more key defensive coaches this offseason, that could theoretically give a player such as Downs more to think about.
Something else to think about here is that DeBoer is an offensive-minded head coach with little connections and ties to the south. It will be interesting to see which coaches he retains on Alabama's staff early this offseason.