If there's one thing Nick Saban knows, it's defensive backs. Alabama has had seven defensive backs drafted in the first round and another four in the second round during the Saban era.

After the secondary was a big question mark heading into the 2020 season, it might be the Crimson Tide’s biggest strength in 2021. Alabama will lose potential top-10 pick Patrick Surtain II at cornerback, but they return everyone else in the secondary.

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Josh Jobe becomes the Tide No. 1 corner, Jordan Battle will start at safety, Malachi Moore will return to the "star" position and either DeMarcco Hellams or Daniel Wright will occupy the other safety spot.

With his skill set not particularly fitting the void left by Surtain, the question becomes where does Brian Branch fit in this Alabama secondary.

The Tyrone, Ga. native came to Alabama as a four-star prospect in the 2020 recruiting class. At Sandy Creek High School, Branch started at safety as a freshman. As a senior, Branch was his teams leading tackler, all while breaking the school record for interceptions. He was named Georgia 5A Ironman of the Year by the conference coaches, an award presented to the top two-way player.

Branch made his first career start against Mississippi State as a true freshman. He finished the night with seven tackles, half a tackle for loss and two pass breakups, earning defensive player of the week honors. Branch also started both of the College Football Playoff games in place of an injured Moore. Against Ohio State in the national championship, he had a season-high three pass breakups.

In 12 games last season, Branch recorded 27 tackles, seven pass breakups, and two interceptions.

Branch will compete with Hellams and Wright at safety this spring. However, Branch will most likely fill the money position (dime) for Alabama’s defense in 2021.

2021 Alabama Crimson Tide Record Book

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