Former National Freshman Player of the Year in Alabama Safety, Caleb Downs, is transferring to Ohio State.

Former National Freshman Player of the Year in Alabama Safety, Caleb Downs, is transferring to Ohio State.

After entering the transfer portal on Wednesday, the former Alabama safety, who won a Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year honor as the best freshman in all of college football last season, committed to Ohio State on Friday.

In his inaugural collegiate season, he led the Crimson Tide in tackles with 107, recorded 3.5 tackles for loss, including a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, and made two sacks and four pass breakups. Additionally, he returned a punt for a touchdown.

As an immediate starter at free safety, he joins Ohio State’s returning secondary, which also includes Lathan Ransom at strong safety, Denzel Burke, Davison Igbinosun, and Jordan Hancock at cornerback.

As a result of Downs making his debut in the starting secondary, Sonny Style is probable to transition to the Will linebacker position, completing a defensive group that is anticipated to be the best in college football in 2024.

This offseason, Downs is the initial defensive player to enroll with the Ohio State Buckeyes via the transfer portal. Joining center Seth McLaughlin, he becomes the second Alabama player to make the move to Ohio State this month.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are also interested in former Crimson Tide offensive lineman Kadyn Proctor and have been associated with quarterback Julian Sayin since he entered the transfer window on Friday. As such, they are still in the process of evaluating two Alabama players.

Former Kansas State QB Will Howard, former Ole Miss defensive back Quinton Judkins, and former Ohio defensive back Will Kacmarek are three of the five overall players to transfer to Ohio State since the conclusion of the 2023 season.

Ohio State heavily recruited Downs when he was a high school prospect; however, Alabama defeated the Buckeyes.

As a freshman, Downs emerged as one of the nation’s top safeties and earned a spot on the AP All-American Second Team.

Despite initial rumors that Georgia had been the frontrunner to sign Downs, the Ohio State Buckeyes were able to secure his services this time around shortly after hiring Travaris Robinson, Alabama’s secondary coach in 2023, as their co-defensive coordinator as well as safety coach.

Reportedly, Alabama football has abandoned any remaining hopes of retaining star safety Caleb Downs. An anonymous source cited by ESPN’s Pete Thamel on Friday revealed that the star freshman will be joining Ohio State for his second year.

During his high school recruiting process, Downs considered the Ohio State Buckeyes before deciding to attend Alabama to play football over Nick Saban, who announced his decision to retire on January 10.

The 2023 SEC Freshman of the Year led Alabama in tackles with 107, ranking fourth-most in the SEC.

This marked the first season since at least 1970 in which a freshman led the team in tackles. The Sporting News and Associated Press named Downs to their second-team All-America teams.

The departure of Downs is among the most consequential since Alabama’s substitution of Saban with Kalen DeBoer of Washington.

After closing on January 2, the winter transfer window reopened for 30 days following Saban’s departure.

Georgia has been extremely active in the transfer market this season, securing notable players on both sides of the football spectrum.

However, the most prominent player of the year has just reaffirmed his dedication to the Bulldogs.

Caleb Downs, a former defensive back for Alabama, has declared his intention to transfer to Ohio State. In light of this development, Georgia may be perturbed.

To begin with, the Georgia safety room suffered this offseason due to the departures of Javon Bullard and Tykee Smith, both of whom have declared their intention to join the NFL.

Despite this, Georgia remains in a favorable roster position. The team retains Malaki Starks, a two-year starter and a presumed future first-round NFL draft pick.

Additionally, the portal no longer includes individuals such as David Daniel-Sisavanh, JaCorey Thomas, Dan Jackson, and the recently acquired former Alabama safety Jake Pope.

In the 2024 recruiting class, the Bulldogs also added another notable recruit, five-star safety KJ Bolden, who transferred to Georgia upon early national signing day.

While Downs may have improved Georgia’s roster by selecting the Bulldogs, thereby allowing for the development of other players before their selection as starters, his decision does not render the Bulldogs defenseless.

Georgia was certain to have a different starting safety in 2024, irrespective of Downs’s commitment to the team.

An existing Georgia roster member has resolved the uncertainty in favor of earning the starting job, instead of Downs who was the frontrunner.