Alabama DB Jaylen Key Opens Up on the Importance of Nick Saban’s Influence

Jaylen Key shares why Nick Saban was so crucial to his career, and a unique story on the Alabama Crimson Tide head coach's retirement.

Jaylen Key may have only spent one season under Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa, but the former Crimson Tide head coach has left a lasting impression on the Alabama defensive back.

As Key gears up for the NFL Draft at the Combine, he spoke to the media about Saban’s lasting legacy.

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Jaylen Key Speaks About Nick Saban’s Retirement and Influence

Key had a career year as a senior in 2023, racking up 60 total tackles and one interception in his only season with Alabama. The DB arrived in Tuscaloosa from UAB ahead of the 2023 season, where he played in 24 games over four seasons.

The Alabama playmaker is now entering the 2024 NFL Draft and is looking to showcase his talent at the NFL Combine.

Speaking in Indianapolis for the NFL’s annual testing and measurement event, Key shared a unique story about Saban’s retirement.

The greatest college football coach ever retired this offseason and shocked the football world. The announcement was unexpected, even to his players.

“I figured out pretty much when everybody else figured out, just through the media,” Key said at the NFL Combine. “I was actually in an interview with the Miami Dolphins, and they stopped the interview. It was like, have you seen it? And then I ended up like, what are you talking about?”

“So that’s how I actually figured out. They then showed me, and we had to stop the interview, and I kind of saw it on social media and everybody’s reaction. So I pretty much had the same reaction as everybody else.”

The news may have been enough to put a halt to Key’s interview with the Dolphins, but it did eventually get back on track. “Yeah. After about five minutes, we kind of talked about it and digested it, and it ended up continuing after that,” the Alabama defensive back shared.

Key joined the Crimson Tide in 2023, after four years with the Blazers, and while he remained respectful of his time in Birmingham, moving to Alabama allowed him to take the next step in his football journey.

The former Crimson Tide talent couldn’t be more thankful to Saban for his opportunity, and Key opened up on how instrumental the legendary head coach was to his career.

“I mean, Coach Saban, it’s so much stuff that he teaches the DBs. He’s like the greatest to do it. You go in, he teaches you how to prepare for a game. He teaches you his system, which is probably one of the more complicated systems in the country.”

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“So it was essential for me to go in and play in that level of football and play for coach Saban. Whereas last year it was, it was essential for my football career.”

Key will forever be thankful to Saban and Alabama for the opportunity he was presented in 2023, and he now looks to apply all that experience and knowledge in the NFL.

Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!


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