3 Alabama stars Kalen DeBoer needs to make sure don’t follow Downs, Proctor and Sayin

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2. Jaylen Mbakwe, CB

Speaking again to the transition from Saban to DeBoer and a seemingly overall offensive-minded staff, we saw for years under the legend that Alabama was DBU, whether or not they were recognized for it. Playing under Saban and following in the footsteps of Minkah Fitzpatrick, Trevon Diggs and countless others was always an enticing proposition -- but it's one that's no longer there.

One could argue that Saban's departure, no matter who was hired to replace him, could've led to Caleb Downs hitting the portal and ultimately landing with Ohio State. But even with the waters looking relatively calm now, Alabama can't let another potential star defensive back out of their grasp, which is where Jaylen Mbakwe comes into play.

You could put Dre Kirkpatrick Jr. and Jahlil Hurley in the conversation with Mbakwe as well as the Crimson Tide are aiming to replace both Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold at cornerback. With these guys, they have readymade next-men-up. Without them, there are a few more questions than answers, especially with Dezz Ricks having already portaled to Texas A&M.

Mbakwe is the one that should be the top priority among the young corners, though. Much like Julian Sayin, he was an early-enrolee as part of the Crimson Tide's 2024 recruiting class, so he would have to enter the portal to depart. But the 5-star prospect and Top 20 player overall has the makings of a true stud who could see meaningful snaps right away. Losing him to Auburn or any other SEC power, which would be possible, would be a big blow for DeBoer and his staff.