Alabama has a history of developing defensive backs and sending multiple to the NFL draft. It is known that head coach Nick Saban values experience on the back end of his defense, making it special when a player comes in and starts right away.

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Crimson Tide fans knew they had something special with Caleb Downs when he was with the first team defense during the Spring A-Day game, and when he was the first defender on the field in the Crimson Tide's first game of the season. Downs's work has paid off, being named the 2023 Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award winner.

Downs becomes the second Crimson Tide player to win the award, joining Will Anderson Jr., who won the award in 2020.

Downs was the leading tackler for the Crimson Tide with 99 heading into Bowl season. He added two tackles for loss with a pair of interceptions on the season and two fumble recoveries. Downs even got involved in the scoring this season, contributing 87 yards and a touchdown on four punt returns.

He was named SEC Newcomer and SEC Freshman of the Year at the conclusion of the regular season and won SEC Freshman of the Week against Middle Tennessee State and Mississippi State.

As the Crimson Tide continue to prepare for the Rose Bowl against top-ranked Michigan, they'll rely on the experience that Downs and the rest of the defense have accumulated this season if they hope to make the national championship for the first time since 2020 and the 9th time under Coach Saban.

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