The Alabama Crimson Tide are almost never short a star cornerback playing for them on the outside. Dre Kirkpatrick, Dee Millner, Marlon Humphrey, and Patrick Surtain II all roamed the Crimson Tide locker room under the tutelage of defensive back coaching legend Nick Saban. Kool-Aid McKinstry is the next name on that list. How did the NFL Draft prospect get here?
Kool-Aid McKinstry Was Built for Stardom
McKinstry hails from Pinson, Alabama. Pinson is a suburb Northeast of Birmingham, with a population of 7,116, according to census data from July 2022. While growing up, McKinstry played football and basketball at Pinson Valley High School.
As a hooper, McKinstry helped Pinson win multiple state championships. The fluid 6’1″ athlete averaged 15 points, five assists, and 3.7 rebounds as a junior.
In fact, he was such a special athlete that McKinstry actually planned on playing both basketball and football in Tuscaloosa. He even practiced with Nate Oats’ squad during his freshman year of college before transitioning fully to football. Earning a starting role on the outside early in his Crimson Tide career may have swayed him toward a singular direction.
His special talents were more evident on the football field for Pinson. As a sophomore in 2018, McKinstry earned Class 6A first-team all-state honors on defense. The following year, he was presented with AL.com’s Birmingham Male Athlete of the Year award. As a senior, he led Pinson Valley to a state title as a two-way player.
During his senior year, he had 12 pass breakups and two interceptions on defense. Both of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns.
But he also caught 45 passes for 706 yards and 11 touchdowns, proving he was more than just a fluke with the ball in his hands. MaxPreps awarded him with the Alabama High School Football Player of the Year award.
Rivals, 247Sports, and On3 all handed out five-star ratings to McKinstry. All three believed he was the best recruit in the state and at the CB position nationally. Only ESPN rated him as a four-star. And instead of rating him as a CB, they labeled him an athlete. He certainly is.
Alabama Career to Date
McKinstry earned a role on the Crimson Tide defense as early as his freshman season. He amassed 25 tackles, an interception, and a pass breakup in 15 appearances.
As a sophomore, he returned as one of the team’s starters on the outside, but he also took over punt-returning duties for the team. His 15.8-yard average earned him postseason honors from FWAA. Meanwhile, his defensive efforts earned him first-team all-SEC honors from the Associated Press.
He returned for his third season as a starter once again but with expectations of a future first-round NFL Draft pick. So far, he’s done nothing but further cement his status as one of the best cover corners in college football.
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