13 July 2008
We’re now on to the Sophomore class, which has 15 scholarship players. There could potentially be a few more if redshirts are not awarded to several players who have applied for them. Once again going straight down the numerical roster:
Kareem Jackson - #3 – CB – 5-11 – 185 lbs. – Fork Union, VA – Fork Union Military – 1 Varsity Letter
It’s scary to think about how things would have gone for the Alabama defense had Kareem not emerged. He was one of several players that were signed by Alabama during the class of 2007 that were not being recruited prior to Nick Saban’s arrival. Kareem visited on the weekend of January 19, and enrolled the following Monday, which allowed him to participate in Spring Practice.
It didn’t take long for him to lock down the right cornerback. In the span of just 4 months he went from not being a student at Fork Union Military Academy, not being recruited by Alabama, to starting at CB for the Tide during the A-Day game.
When he started the Western Carolina game he became the first true freshman DB to ever start the first game of his career at Alabama. And by the 2nd week of the season he was already being given the task of guarding Vanderbilt’s Earl Bennett, the SEC’s all-time leading receiver.
The cornerback position is a tough one at which to gain attention – at least positive attention. If you are doing your job correctly the ball never comes your way, making it hard for the casual fan to even notice you. If you aren’t doing it correctly, you get beaten, sometimes for big plays. That catches the eye of virtually every fan.
At Alabama good players become popular players by making plays in big games – specifically against Auburn or Tennessee. Kareem solidified himself as a fan favorite by having his biggest game in Bama’s 41-17 drubbing of the Volunteers with 6 tackles, 1 for a loss, 2 passes broken up, and 2 huge interceptions.
What makes Kareem a perfect fit for Nick Saban’s defense is his ability to play physical at the line of scrimmage. He has great cover skills, which is essential for any CB, but he also has the athleticism and physicality to play in press coverage and to defend the run.
2008 Prospectus: Along with Rashad Johnson, Kareem will lock down ½ of Bama’s secondary. Much as is the case with the “other safety” position, much of the fall camp will be trying to find Bama’s “other cornerback.” Last year it was Kareem who became the “other CB” to Senior Simeon Castille. This year it’s Kareem who has the spot locked down.
And he’ll have the responsibility of being Bama’s “lock down” guy all season – meaning he’ll be given the task of covering the opponents’ best receiver for the vast majority of every game. That’s nothing new to Kareem, however, as that was the case during most of the 2nd half of last season.
He will play a huge role in the 2008 defense, allowing the defensive coaching staff to scheme around him – knowing that his guy will be covered. Not having to help Kareem over the top frees the safeties to come up in run support, and in Nick Saban’s defense blitz.
He will also be expected to once again be a big part of Bama’s run defense, as well. He finished last season as Bama’s 5th leading tackler, and he will likely be called on for that type of support again. That is a lot of responsibility for a Sophomore. But because of Bama’s lack of depth and experience across the board on defense, Kareem is one of the more experienced players on that side of the ball for the Tide.
Don’t be surprised to see Kareem’s name on many All-SEC ballots come season’s end.
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