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May 23, 2024

Former 5-Star Safety Caleb Downs Transfers to Ohio State After Nick Saban’s Retirement

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Jan 20, 2024

Former Alabama safety Caleb Downs, one of the top defensive backs in the 2023 recruiting class, has committed to transfer to Ohio State. Downs entered the transfer portal last week shortly after legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban announced his retirement. His transfer is the latest in a string of departures from Alabama since Saban’s exit.

Background on Caleb Downs

Caleb Downs was a coveted 5-star recruit in the 2023 class from Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, Georgia. He chose Alabama over offers from Georgia, Ohio State, Notre Dame and many other top programs.

As a true freshman this past season, Downs made an immediate impact for the Crimson Tide. He started 11 games and finished with 60 tackles, 2 interceptions and 6 pass breakups, earning Freshman All-American and All-SEC honors. Downs was expected to be a multi-year starter and leader in Alabama’s secondary.

However, those plans abruptly changed when Nick Saban decided to retire after winning his record eighth national championship. Saban’s retirement, along with new coach Deion Sanders cleaning house, has led to a mass exodus of players from Alabama.

Downs Enters Transfer Portal Amid Alabama Exodus

On January 17, Downs became the latest to depart Tuscaloosa, announcing his intentions to enter the NCAA transfer portal. He instantly became the top available player in the portal as a former 5-star prospect with three years of eligibility remaining.

Downs was one of six Alabama defensive backs to enter the portal that week, joining Khyree Jackson, Terrion Arnold, Earl Little Jr., Tre’Quon Fegans and Jake Pope. The loss of Downs was considered an especially big blow for the Crimson Tide.

According to 247Sports, Downs is the 25th Alabama player to enter the portal this offseason. Other departures include quarterback Jalen Milroe (TCU), offensive tackle Tommy Brockermeyer (Texas), wide receivers Traeshon Holden (Oregon) and Isaiah Bond (Texas) and running back Jamarion Miller (TCU).

Player Position Transfer Destination
Caleb Downs S Ohio State
Jalen Milroe QB TCU
Tommy Brockermeyer OT Texas
Traeshon Holden WR Oregon
Isaiah Bond WR Texas
Jamarion Miller RB TCU

Ohio State Beats Out Georgia for Downs

Downs fielded interest from numerous programs after entering the portal, including defending national champion Georgia. However, SEC rival Ohio State ultimately won out.

On January 19, Downs announced his commitment to the Buckeyes. He’ll look to bolster an Ohio State secondary that struggled at times this past season.

The Buckeyes beat the Bulldogs for Downs’ commitment in a reversal of roles from his initial recruitment in 2022. Georgia and Ohio State were finalists last time, but Downs chose Alabama over the Bulldogs.

Landing Downs is a huge recruiting win for Ohio State coach Ryan Day against elite competition. Downs will reunite with former Alabama linebacker Terrence Lewis, who transferred to Ohio State last offseason.

What Downs Brings to Ohio State

In Downs, Ohio State is getting an instant impact performer with versatility to play all over the secondary. He primarily played safety at Alabama but has the athleticism and cover skills to play cornerback as well.

At 6-foot, 190 pounds, Downs combines size and speed with advanced instincts for a young defensive back. He excels at reading quarterbacks and making plays on the ball. Downs notched 3 interceptions and 8 pass breakups in just his first year out of high school.

Ohio State’s pass defense has been up and down recently and loses senior safety Ronnie Hickman. Downs could start right away alongside Lathan Ransom, giving the Buckeyes one of the best safety tandems in the country. His addition greatly elevates the talent level in Ohio State’s secondary.

What This Means for Ohio State and Alabama Moving Forward

Landing a player of Downs’ caliber is a massive victory for Ryan Day and the Buckeyes. He immediately becomes one of the most talented players on their defense. Ohio State is gearing up for another run at the College Football Playoff after falling just short this past season. Adding Downs makes them even more dangerous contenders.

Meanwhile, Alabama faces a long rebuild under Deion Sanders. The loss of Downs and over 20 other scholarship players is a tough way for “Prime Time” to start his tenure in Tuscaloosa. Sanders may land some transfers of his own and has a top recruiting class coming in. But the mass exodus leaves the Crimson Tide cupboard thin for 2023 as the program transitions to a new era without Nick Saban.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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