The Alabama defense has some lofty expectations heading into the fall — whether it’s from the media, fans or within their own locker room. Either way the Crimson Tide aren’t shying away from the immense pressure.

"I think the best thing about this defense is we're not shying away from any expectations that we have for ourselves,” said safety DeMarcco Hellams. “We go out and we attack every day with the Bama mindset."

And why would they back down, the defense returns eight starters from a year ago — not to mention the incredible depth behind them.

Alabama has produced a number of great defenses in its 15 seasons under Nick Saban and this year's unit has the potential surpass all of them. The culture has been set from all of the players that have come through the program, the standard on the field and leadership in the locker room.

Players like Will Anderson, Jordan Battle, Brian Branch, Byron Young and others that were either freshman or sophomores when Alabama captured its last national championship in 2020, are now the veterans in the program.

They’ve added players key players over the last two years via the transfer portal, including Henry To’o To’o and Eli Ricks. The Tide also have a couple of rising stars in sophomores Dallas Turner and Kool-Aid McKinstry.

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Anderson and Turner form college football’s most devastating pass rushing duo. The two accounted for 26 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 2021. Add former five-star recruit Chris Braswell to the mix and opposing quarterbacks will have nightmares thinking about the Tide pass rush.

Seniors Byron Young, DJ Dale and Justin Eboigbe anchor the defensive front. To’o To’o is also back for his senior season at middle linebacker after registering a team-high 113 tackles last season. Jaylen Moody is the projected starter next to To’o To’o but Deontae Lawson, Kendrick Blackshire and Jihaad Campbell continue to push for the position.

The battle at cornerback continues to heat up in the third of camp. Saban said, “there's five guys right now that are pushing." Ricks, McKinstry, Khyree Jackson, Terrion Arnold and Jahquez Robinson are all vying for the two starting spots. Branch and Malachi Moore occupy the Star position, as they have for each of the last two seasons. Battle and Hellams have started 47 career games between the two of them at the safety.

Expectations are as high as they’ve ever been, but that’s nothing new when you play for Alabama. And whatever is expected of them from outside the program, it doesn’t match what the players expect of themselves.

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