It’s rare to see a freshman step up and make an impact early in their college careers, so when it happens, it’s cause for celebration. The Alabama Crimson Tide knew they were getting one of the best high school players in the country but could have never anticipated the impact that safety Caleb Downs would have in Year 1.
Downs’ journey from high school star to college breakout is one that any college football fan can appreciate.
How Caleb Downs Grew from High School to College
High School Star
Caleb Downs was a three-sport athlete at Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, Georgia, playing football, basketball, and baseball. While playing football, he played safety and running back on the team, with defense being his strength.
His 2022 season was strong, posting 850 total yards of offense and 24 touchdowns (20 rushing, three receiving, and one passing). On the defensive side of the ball, he recorded 83 tackles and five interceptions — two of them being returned for a touchdown.
Mill Creek was 14-1 during the season and won the AAAAAAA state championship in the process. Downs also won the MaxPreps National Player of the Year and Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year awards as well. Downs ranked in the top 11 in the country for ESPN (11), Rivals.com (9), and 247Sports (8).
Downs’ college choices before the 2022 season were between Clemson, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Alabama. He decided to pick Alabama as his school of choice from the five finalists.
College Football Fast Starter
From the moment Downs joined the Crimson Tide, it was very clear he had what it takes to be an elite defensive player. Smart instincts for football, aggressiveness in his pursuit of the ball carrier, and high football IQ all show up on tape. He had everything coach Nick Saban wanted out of a player which is why he was able to earn the starting job on defense as a safety.
Coach Saban spoke about Downs last month on his radio show, speaking about his maturity on and off the field being a trait that most impressed him about Downs.
“I think what impresses me most about Caleb Downs is his maturity,” Saban said. “He’s a very instinctive football player, but this guy, there’s no arrogance about him, being one of the best players in the country at his position.
“He’s very focused, he’s very coachable. He wants to know everything that you can ever tell him about how he can play his position better. He takes coaching well when you talk to him about what he did or didn’t do. Wants to completely understand the whole defense not just what he’s supposed to do, so he knows exactly how he fits.”
His first college game went about as well as it could have as Downs recorded eight tackles which led the Crimson Tide defense in. Alabama picked up the 56-7 win over Middle Tennessee State in that game, and Downs established himself as a player to watch out for.
Since that game, Downs hasn’t slowed down for Alabama. He has led the team in tackles, racking up 63 as of Nov. 2, 2023. He has also recorded two sacks, two interceptions, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble, and one pass breakup in eight games played for the Crimson Tide this season.
While it is very early in Downs’ college career, he is on the path to becoming one of college football’s best defensive players. He might end up being one of the best overall players in the country as he works his way to the end goal of the NFL.
Caleb Downs Player Profile
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 203
- Number: 2
- Class: Freshman
- Hometown: Hoschton, GA
- High School: Mill Creek
- Years Active: 1
- Previous School: N/A
- Draft Eligible: 2025
Caleb Downs Player Career Stats (As of November 3, 2023)
- Tackles: 63
- Tackles For Loss: 1
- Sacks: 2
- Interceptions: 2
- Forced Fumbles: 1
- Pass Breakups: 1