Keon Sabb To Wear No. 3 for Alabama, Kalen DeBoer Praises Fit With Crimson Tide

    Michigan transfer Keon Sabb will keep his No. 3 jersey at Alabama, and head coach Kalen DeBoer had nothing but glowing words about the junior safety.

    Despite winning a national championship with the Michigan Wolverines, safety Keon Sabb opted to transfer to another blueblood program: Alabama. Head coach John Harbaugh’s departure was presumably the principal factor, but other coaching staff moves, primarily the losses of co-defensive coordinator and DBs coach Steve Clinkscale and Sabb’s positional coach, Jay Harbaugh, likely played into the move as well.

    Nevertheless, it’s a year of change for both Sabb and the Crimson Tide, as former Washington HC Kalen DeBoer attempts to fill the shoes of the legendary Nick Saban.

    Kalen DeBoer Says Keon Sabb Is a “Great Fit for Us”

    In his first spring press conference on Monday, DeBoer heaped praise on the junior safety. “You bring a guy like that in to be an impact player for you,” he said.

    “The character makeup — aside from what we know is a great football player — he’s a really good fit for us. … Right now, he’s just going about his work, but you can tell he’s got that it-factor and the leadership piece within him, and we’ll be counting on him this fall.”

    Sabb, a top-100 recruit in the 2022 class, played sparingly as a true freshman, but he flashed his potential last season. Seeing the third-most snaps at the position behind starters Rod Moore and Makari Paige, Sabb snatched two interceptions and allowed a completion rate under 50%. Although he predominately lined up as a deep safety, he saw 60+ snaps both in the box and in the slot, displaying his versatility.

    The Tide certainly coveted that trait, as they need to replace every starting DB outside of Malachi Moore. Sabb and fellow transfer Domani Jackson (USC) will fill the holes left by Caleb Downs and future NFL Draft picks Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold. Speaking of the latter…

    Sabb Wearing No. 3 for Alabama

    With Arnold off to the pros, Sabb was free to retain the No. 3 jersey he wore at Michigan. While the 2024 iteration of the defensive backfield will look much different than 2023, there is more than enough talent on Alabama’s roster to challenge Georgia for the top spot in the SEC.

    Moore and Sabb are interchangeable at safety/slot, and Jackson will likely start at one CB spot. If five-star signee Zabien Brown lives up to his recruitment, he could line up opposite Jackson, with redshirt junior DeVonta Smith seemingly in line to earn the other safety role. Regardless, there is competition at both positions, and the spring transfer portal window could offer intriguing options if Alabama’s staff believes they need more reinforcements.

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    DeBoer brought South Alabama HC Ken Wommack on to be the team’s new defensive coordinator, and although that usually means a new system, Wommack wants to keep things simple for his players.

    “We are a little bit more of a 3-4 nickel defense,” he told The Next Round. “That’s really what Coach Saban has been the last few years, where they’re able to move in and out of four-down [linemen] and 3-4. There’s a lot of carryover, but I want to make sure that I kind of minimize some of the things that our players are going to have to learn, so I can understand their verbiage as well.”

    Sabb will have every opportunity to showcase his it-factor next season, and even though Arnold is gone, Alabama fans will still see No. 3 making plays on defense.

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