McKinstry Not Buying Saban Exit
Kool-Aid McKinstry is an All American and one of the nation's top corners. He met with the media covering the Rose Bowl this week and said he sees no signs of Nick Saban leaving after the season. Here's a look:
Q.Tyler Booker said you guys were like a team of misfits. You lost Will, lost Bryce. How much have you embraced that?
"That was a challenge coming into the season. I feel like we embraced that moment and we embraced that we wanted to be our own team. We feel like every team is different. Like this year’s team is different from last year’s team, last year’s team different than the year before, so on, so forth.
"I felt like we knew this team that we needed to work and we needed to embrace who we are and find out our identity and check out our identity and uplift our identity as a team."
Q. How areyou feeling [after a concussion]?
I’m feeling good."
Q. Early in the season when things weren’t going well and some of the former Alabama players started saying some things, did that motivate you at that point?
"Well, yeah, former players, they just love the program, love the standard. They got kind of feelings and they’re going to say what they say, but we just be us and do what we do, move on and just be a better team for ourselves.'
Q. How have you felt about being in the underdog role? It’s not Alabama’s typical position. Going into this playoff how does that make you feel?
"We just look at it like any other game. We don’t worry too much about whether we’re the underdog or not the underdog. We just look at it like we’ve got another opportunity to go out and show the world who we are, show our identity as a team.
"We look at it like that. We don’t look at whether we’re the underdog or whether the other team is the underdog."
Q. In what ways do you think this Alabama secondary would have an advantage over Michigan’s receiving corps?
"I feel like we’ve got to go out there as a secondary and do what we do best, communicate, over-communicate. Make sure we’re all on the same page. I feel like we’re all on the same page, everybody knows their job and everybody is reading their keys, I feel like we’re going to stop them."
Q. What sticks out about JJ McCarthy and their receivers?
"I feel like starting with JJ, he’s a great quarterback. He can make all the throws, whether it’s to the field or he can make good tight throws in tight windows. He can put the ball where he needs to put the ball, so I feel like he’s a good quarterback and I feel like receivers do a good job of getting open for him and running decent routes for him and just making tough catches, also, when he puts the ball in tight windows."
Q. Did you talk to [new commitment] Damani Jackson? Did you see him at practice?
"I seen him at practice yesterday. I didn’t really get a chance to talk to him because we was practicing, but I’m very excited that we got him here."
Q. You came to Alabama just as NIL was starting. How have you seen it change and what impact did the formation of Yea Alabama, has that had a noticeable impact?
"First one, I feel like my class is the last class of not having NIL. NIL really started the class after me. It started right before my freshman year, but no one knew where to take it unless you was just a high-profile athlete at that time.
I feel like NIL has grown a tremendous lot and helping programs in a lot of ways.
"We’re very thankful to Yea Alabama, thankful for everything that they do and how they’re trying to make us a better program. We’re just very thankful for them.
"Yea Alabama is its own little thing and it’s a guy or two that just reaches out to a player, whether they have a brand that want to represent that player or they want the player to represent their brand. That’s how it go, and kind of just prolongs with the deal."
Q. Does this Michigan offense remind you of anyone you’ve faced this year?
"This offense kind of reminds me a little bit of Auburn. I feel like they do similar things. And also Georgia when they’re getting in a lot of silver and just lining up big guys and running the ball right at you."
Q. Going back to the NIL thing, do you feel like getting some NIL money now is going to help you and other players your age maybe be more prepared for the NFL money when it comes just because you’ve had a chance to learn some financial literacy now?
"Yeah, I feel like having a chance to make money now in college will prepare us to learn before we get to the NFL, because you get a chance to have money that’s not as much as big as you would have in the NFL.
"The mistakes that you make now wouldn’t be as hurtful in the NFL because you can learn from those mistakes that you have now here in college. Then when you get to the NFL you already know, learned from the mistakes that you learned in college.
"When you get to the NFL you’ll be already knowing what you need to do and how you need to handle things."
Q. How different is it, you guys had the early season struggles — does it make you appreciate where you are and how hard you had to fight to get here?
"Yes, I just feel like I love this team. We’re always there for each other. We have each other’s backs. We lean on each other. We understand that it might not be everyone’s day and someone has got to step up and take one for the team.
"No matter whose day it is you’ve always got to prepare, because you never know when your day is going to be needed most from the team.
"Just like I said, man, just those early mishaps just gave us a chance to learn and find out who we really are and help us improve our identity and made us a stronger team, made us a stronger bond, and made us connect with each other even more."
Q. Is this team tougher than last year?
"Like I said, teams are different. You have two different teams, so it’s hard for me just to say which one of the teams is mentally tougher of the teams. I feel like we were both two great teams."
Q. What advice would you give Domani Jackson?
"Just come in and work. You’re going to be around good players. You’re going to be around great coaches and great development. I would say, come in, work, keep your head down, trust the Process, and things will work out well."
Q. Malachi Moore said he reminds himself that Caleb Downs is still a freshman. When did he stop looking like a freshman to you?
"I would say Caleb Downs really stopped looking like a freshman really fall camp. I feel like he’s always been a pro. He’s always handled himself like a pro. He always takes advantage of all of his opportunities, and he’s always there to listen and learn. I feel like he’s a great team player.
"When he’s about business he’s about his business. He don’t really give you childish vibes, but sometimes he is his age."
Q. Do any of Michigan’s receivers stand out to you? It’s not a group that’s had a lot of accolades this year.
"I feel like they’re just a great receiving corps together. They do a good job together. I feel like they do what we need to do for the team, and I feel like them and JJ connect on a very good basis. I feel like they know how each other are and they play well together."
Q. That’s an offense that has had success with you, especially on the ground. What do you have to do better to not have that happen?
"I feel like we’ve just got to read our keys, make sure everybody is doing their job, not trying to do somebody else’s job, making sure we’re where we need to be, and making sure we’re all on the same page. Also making sure we’re communicating."
Q. A lot of the Michigan players were saying Caleb is the hardest hitter on the team. Who is the hardest hitter on the secondary?
"Shoot, hardest hitter in the secondary? It’s probably both of those guys, both of those guys, both of our safeties. Also Jaylen Key, too. I feel like a lot of those guys do a good job bringing the bang."
Q. Have you found yourself looking at Coach Saban going, is he really 72? He’s like a grandfather coaching football.
"We’re really thankful for Coach Saban. He moves around very good. He jogs everywhere he goes. He gets around practice very well and also walks with a pep in his step. For him to be the age that he is, he moves good."
Q. Where do you think you’ve improved the most from a technique standpoint and an actual performance standpoint this year?
"I feel like I was making sure I was more locked in on my press technique, making sure press technique is a string point of my game. I feel like I improve more just being more confident within myself, understanding the game, more understanding what down and distance it is and what routes may come off down and distance. I’m just trying to figure out different things for tendencies for a team.
"I feel like before I was just out there playing just using my talent and using my ability and playing within the defense, but this year I feel like I took it to another level."
Q. They have a really good tight end that gets in seams and becomes kind of a mismatch. What have you seen from the tight end and how do you combat that?
'Yes, their tight end [Coleston Loveland], he’s a good player. He does a good job of making plays for them and being able to play and also being able to make plays in the passing game for them. I feel like he’s a good player."
Q. Caleb Downs, he’s got quite a routine, how he handles himself. What have you seen from him in terms of the condition he keeps himself in and the routine he has?
"I feel like he just handles himself very well with treatment and just doing all the small things to just make him a better player and make him be able to perform the way that he’s performing."
Q. There was a turning point in the season after the Texas loss — what do you think the turning point with this team was? How did you come together?
"I feel like we just — after those second and third games, I feel like we had a moment where we can either bend or break, and I feel like we stood together. We was there for each other. We was a brotherhood. We found our identity and we came together and just made the decision within each other to say, hey, man, what are we going to do. It’s on us.
"It’s not all this, the past is on us, and the future is definitely on us. I mean, it’s up to us to do what we want to do as a team, and everything that we had that we wanted was still in front of us, and I feel like we did everything we could do to get to this point now.
"I wouldn’t say a lot of shouting was going on. I feel like we had a lot of player-held meetings. Not a lot of, but we had a player-led meeting and I feel like we just talked to the guys and we just heard everyone out... and got an opportunity for everybody to express themselves to the players and just for us to come up with a plan that we wanted to be and the team that we wanted to be."
Q. How far back recruiting-wise did you hear, well, Coach Saban doesn’t have long to go, he’s going to retire? Were people putting that in your head or asking? It’s happened again now because he’s 72, but you’ve heard it before, right?
"No, I really never even really thought about that. I never had a thought in my head when I was in recruitment that Coach Saban would ever be retiring or not being the coach at Alabama. I always knew he would be here for my four years."
Q. Did other coaches say that to you?
"No, none of the other coaches ever brought that up to me in recruitment, even from other teams. I never heard that."
Q. Have you noticed much of a change with Coach Steele taking over this year?
"Well, biggest change I would say is I just feel like we’re — I want to say we just play very like more physical I would say.
"We do a lot up front to mess with the quarterback or mess with the offensive line. That’s the biggest thing I would say."
Q. Michigan’s running game, what stands out?
"I feel like they’re downhill. They have a good running game. Their offensive line works very well in getting a good push up front, and I feel like they’re running back is a good back. I feel like they’re very good at running the ball."
Q. Do you still have an NIL deal with Kool-Aid?
"No, it came to an end."
Q. Do you see any signs of Coach Saban saying adios this year to football?
"Me personally, I don’t see none. I don’t see no thoughts of just seeing him in general that this may be it for him. This is new to me now. It never crossed my mind before."
Alabama's Tenth Spring Practice 2022