Two young five-star defenders shined for Alabama on A-Day
Bryce Young took home MVP honors during Alabama’s A-Day game, while freshman receiver Agiye Hall might have generated the most buzz of any Crimson Tide player. However, in a scrimmage that saw only one offensive touchdown, defense carried the day.
And the Tide has a couple of rising stars on that side of the ball as well.
Young’s 333 yards through the air were worthy of recognition. The quarterback’s 59-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cameron Latu was arguably the play of the game. However, he wasn’t the only five-star sophomore responsible for a score on the day.
Facing a second-and-10 from his own 14-yard line, Young was blindsided by sophomore outside linebacker Chris Braswell, who knocked the ball loose, allowing fellow linebacker Jaylen Moody to scoop it in the end zone for the score. The strip was part of a busy day for Braswell, who tallied three sacks and five tackles during the scrimmage.
Braswell came to Alabama as the No. 24 overall player and No. 2 outside linebacker in last year’s class. While the 6-foot-3, 220-pound pass rusher didn’t play a down for the Tide last season, consider Saturday his coming-out party.
“He’s really made a lot of progress, showed some ability in pass rush to really challenge our offense on a daily basis,” head coach Nick Saban said. “We knew he was a guy that would step up and be a guy to count on and have a role this year. Because of his pass-rush ability he will be a guy we find a role for."
Speaking of five-star defenders who showed out on A-Day, Tide fans also saw a stellar debut performance from cornerback Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry who tallied an interception, a fumble recovery, a pass deflection and three tackles, including one for a loss.
McKinstry, who was playing on the second-team defense, recorded his interception against walk-on quarterback Braxton Barker in the fourth quarter, setting up the White team’s game-winning drive.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound defensive back has been one of Alabama’s most anticipated additions this offseason, joining the Tide as the No. 1 cornerback in this year’s class.
“Every day Coach Saban gets on him about getting better and he feeds off of it,” safety Jordan Battle said. “Every day he gets better with trying to get things corrected and today showed that he’s made a lot of improvement and he made a lot of plays out there.”
Despite giving up a few big plays, Alabama’s defense was solid during the scrimmage. The Crimson team, which featured the first-team defense, allowed 385 total yards while the White squad, which featured the second-team defense, allowed just 276 total yards.
“I thought the defense did pretty good today,” Battle said. “We had some guys out with injuries but we had guys step in and do a pretty good job today. It was a little rough at first but they got comfortable and did well toward the end.”
Added Moody: “Today was a good day for us to show everybody that we have improved and what we have learned over the spring.”