Get to know the three Alabama football players attending SEC Media Days
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Sam Thornton
TUSCALOOSA-The annual SEC Media Days will commence next week in Nashville, Tenn. at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. The four day event is a keen reminder to all college football fans: the season is rapidly approaching.
Each SEC football program has been assigned a day for the head coach and players to address the media. Alabama will speak on Wednesday, July 19.
Alabama coach Nick Saban will joined by offensive lineman JC Latham, cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry and linebacker Dallas Turner. Here’s a profile into each player returning for their junior season in Tuscaloosa:
The junior offensive lineman is poised for a major breakout season. An IMG Academy product, Latham has been groomed in a high intensity football programs. The spotlight isn’t new for him either as he began his collegiate career as the top-ranked offensive line prospect in the 2021 recruiting class.
In 2022, Latham established himself as a starter on the offensive line, playing in all 13 contests. He allowed zero sacks on 517 pass blocking attempts. His first shining moment came against Texas with an impressive knock down block that allowed Alabama running back Jace McClellan to run for an 81-yard touchdown.
Heading into 2023, Latham will be the anchor of the offensive line at right tackle. His familiarity of the offensive line runs deep, dating back to his freshman year with the Tide when he was part of the group tasked with carrying on the tradition; the Alabama offensive line was coming off a performance that earned it the Joe Moore Award.
It’s now come full circle for Latham, as several NFL scouts have projected him as a potential top-10 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
In March, Latham was vocal about the expectation for the offensive line:
“I want us to be ruthless. I want guys, every time that we line up and get ready to hike the ball, to be scored of us,” Latham said.
Everyone knows the name, but do they know the impact potential? Not only does McKinstry hold arguably the best name in college football, but he’s one of, if not the best cornerback in the SEC — maybe the entire nation.
Last season, McKinstry took the college football world by storm, earning second team All-American honors by the AFCA, Sporting News and CBS Sports. He was also a first team All-SEC selection.
In addition to McKinstry’s lockdown corner skills, he’s established himself as an impressive return specialist.
McKinstry’s growth has been nothing short of stellar since his starting role as a freshman. He’s improved every season, although now that he’s proved himself, he can expect to get the “Patrick Surtain treatment” and have opponents avoid his side of the field.
Along with Latham, McKinstry is projected in numerous NFL mock drafts as the first defensive back off the board in 2024, and potentially a top-five selection.
Although McKinstry has racked up personal accolades, his main focus is to deliver another national title to Tuscaloosa.
“I really don’t pay attention to personal goals right now, just focused on what I’m doing right now for the team, and leading us to get where we’re trying to get,” McKinstry said last November.
Turner’s mission is simple: Become the predecessor to Will Anderson Jr.
The junior linebacker is the only starter from the linebacker unit to return in 2023. Last year, Turner played in all 13 contests delivering four sacks and 37 tackles.Some college football analysts predicted Turner would have more of an output last season considering he was playing opposite of Anderson; he was seeing double and at times triple team block assignments. This season, expect the former five-star prospect to instill fear into the pass rush under new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
Turner’s ceiling is arguably higher than any player on the Alabama roster. Fans and analysts saw his performance in last year’s season opener against Utah State when he got constant pressure off the edge and finished with three tackles. The effort earned Turner performance earned him one of the Defensive Players of the Week designatations by the Alabama coaching staff.
He required offseason surgery which kept him out of spring practice, but Turner is still expected to be featured prominently in the defensive scheme.
In 247Sports’ Way-To-Early 2024 NFL mock draft, Turner was slotted as the No. 4 overall pick to the Tennessee Titans.
SEC Media Days will be aired live on SEC Network for fans to watch throughout the week.