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What Kalen Deboer Saw in Michigan Transfer Keon Sabb

DeBoer said the junior safety has the "it factor" and will play a big role in Alabama's defense this fall.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama brought in eight players from the transfer portal this offseason. Three of those players committed when Nick Saban was still the head coach, and five joined the Crimson Tide once Kalen DeBoer was hired as Saban's replacement. 

Only one of those five guys was not a former player under DeBoer at Washington: Michigan safety Keon Sabb.

After having the secondary decimated by draft prospects and transfers, Sabb filled an opening on the Alabama defense that was desperately needed. Last season for the Wolverines, Sabb appeared in 14 games with five starts and finished the season with 14 tackles and two interceptions. On Monday, DeBoer spoke to the media after the Crimson Tide's first spring practice and explained why Sabb was player Alabama targeted in the portal.

"You bring a guy like him in to be an impact player for you," DeBoer said. "His experiences, not just each and every play, but also the experiences and the leadership that as he’s here longer and longer that we would expect from him because of the level that he took his team to winning a championship. That fits in well with what we’re trying to accomplish, what we’re trying to do."

Every returning player on the Alabama roster has experience in the College Football Playoff, but Sabb will be one of few alongside the Tide's fifth-year players like Malachi Moore and Tim Smith that have won a national championship. And he will likely be on of the team's leaders in the secondary next to Moore. Sabb was a high school teammate of current Alabama players Tyler Booker and Jihaad Campbell at IMG Academy. 

DeBoer was in an optimistic mood after the team's first practice and is already pleased with the way Sabb has gotten acclimated to the program. 

"He’s just a really good fit for us," DeBoer said. "He’s been a pleasure getting to know him more and more every day, just seeing how he’s operating. Right now, he’s just going about his work. But you can tell he’s got that ‘it factor.’ He’s got the leadership piece within him to where I know we’ll be counting on him this fall."