For all the stability existing within Alabama's football program under Nick Saban, cornerback Marlon Humphrey certainly has experienced his share of change.
The redshirt sophomore is playing for his third secondary coach in as many years, having signed in 2014 when Kirby Smart oversaw the defensive backs. Mel Tucker was his position coach last season, and Derrick Ansley was hired this past offseason after Smart was named Georgia's head coach and took Tucker with him as defensive coordinator.
Alabama held its third and final two-a-day practice Monday and has completed 14 workouts this month. The Crimson Tide are halfway through their preseason leading up to the Sept. 3 season opener with Southern California's Trojans.
Humphrey earned Freshman All-America honors last season after compiling 45 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and two forced fumbles in 15 starts. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound son of former Crimson Tide tailback Bobby Humphrey had an interception in the SEC championship win against Florida, but his biggest play of the year may have been the onside kick he recovered early in the fourth quarter of the national championship game against Clemson.
Eddie Jackson and Minkah Fitzpatrick also are back as starters in Alabama's secondary, which is expected to be stout this season but is being challenged this month by third-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.
"The secondary is coming along well," Humphrey said. "The offense has been throwing some things at us that we haven't really seen — new route combinations — so we're learning new things and freshening up stuff we already knew."
Humphrey also admits he can be quick to turn for Jackson for help and that he did the same thing with former Tide defensive back Geno Mattias-Smith. Jackson had a chance to bypass his senior season for the NFL draft, but he elected to return and is the clear leader of Alabama's last line of defense.
"We have high expectations," Jackson said. "Last year was a pretty good year, and we just want to improve every year. We just want to compete. We listen to our coaches. We have a great receiving corps that challenge us every day, and we challenge them every day, too."
Said Humphrey: "I'm not sure what younger guys will play for us, but we'll figure it all out."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.