Why Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams are the Top Safety Tandem in CFB
The Crimson Tide received big news this offseason when Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams elected to forgo the NFL Draft and return to Tuscaloosa for their senior season.
The former four-star recruits in the 2019 recruiting class have appeared in all 41 games in their Alabama career. Between experience and production, Battle and Hellams have a strong case to be considered the top safety tandem in college football.
Battle has made 27 starts over the last two seasons and four in 2019 as a true freshman. This past season he tallied 86 tackles, three interceptions, returning two of them for a touchdown and three pass breakups, which earned him first-team All-SEC and third-team All-American honors.
A film junkie, Battle is a smart player with a high football IQ. He has an excellent understanding of route concepts which allow him to make plenty of plays on the ball.
At 6-foot-1 and 206 pounds, Battle is a big-framed safety that can deliver massive hits. He’s a sure tackler that plays with tremendous energy. Alabama has seen three safeties drafted in the first round under Nick Saban and Battle could be the next.
The South Florida native spoke in the spring about his decision to return to Tuscaloosa for another season.
“That’s just something that goes with the Bama standard, coming to Bama,” Battle said. “That’s what’s instilled in you. You want to win, and if you don’t win, you’re still hungry. You’re hungry for more. I think that’s the main thing of the decision to come back for us individually.”
Hellams became a full-time starter in 2021 after starting each of Alabama’s College Football Playoff games in 2020. He registered 87 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and three pass breakups this past season.
The Maryland native mentioned “unfinished business” as one of the biggest reasons he returned to school.
“When I chose to come to the University of Alabama, I had three goals – get my degree, be a leader for my teammates and win multiple championships,” Hellams said. “I still need time to take care of all three, and I can only do so by staying one more year. I can't leave now, knowing that I didn't stay true to my goals. I realize that staying for my senior season provides me with the best opportunity to grow as a player, as a student and as a man. This season did not finish how we would have liked. We have unfinished business to take care of in 2022.”
Like Battle, Hellams is also a big-framed safety at 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds and can bring the pads on contact. He continued to progress in coverage as the season went along. Hellams picked off Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett in the SEC Championship Game, displaying great route recognition and patience. He can fit the run from depth and is physical taking on blockers.
The two seniors play a vital role in the backend for an Alabama defense that enters 2022 season with high expectations.