The University of Alabama is aiming for another transfer portal target in the defensive backfield. The Crimson Tide added a big commitment on Tuesday from former Louisiana cornerback, Trey Amos. UA now has its sights on former UAB safety Jaylen Key after he spent the last two days on an official visit in Tuscaloosa.
Key took an unofficial visit to Alabama on April 26, the day after his name appeared in the portal. He returned on Monday and Tuesday with his father. It was the final visit before a decision is announced.
“It’s all business-like,” Key told BamaInsider after the early week visit to Alabama. “They are all great people. The relationships I have there are good. It’s really all business when it comes to ‘Bama. You come in and get your work done.
“Everyone there has a constant obsession of winning and being great. They are all about preparing and getting guys to the next level. Players go to ‘Bama and are able to live out their dreams.”
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound athlete knew what to expect ahead of his return visit. He was eager for his father to see everything Alabama has to offer, and meet with the coaching staff. The conversations with Nick Saban, secondary coach Travaris Robinson and even the wife of the Tide’s head coach were highlights of the trip.
“I loved talking to Mrs. Terry (Saban),” he said. “She was great. The conversation with Coach Saban was more about how this is more of a business-move with me only having one season available to play. It’s about coming in, working and proving myself every day. It’s about creating value for myself for these next eight months.
“T-Rob is a great person; just an overall great person. He is a great football coach, but you can’t go wrong with being around good people. It’s great to have a relationship with people who will tell you what it is, and what it’s not. Some situations might be a little cloudy, but he will tell you how it is. We’ve only known each other for a few weeks, but we have really grown close.”
Key describes himself as a “hybrid player” who can play multiple positions in the defensive backfield. He is not limited to one spot. Key believes the system he played in during his time at UAB easily translates to what he would play in Tuscaloosa if he chooses Alabama. He had 60 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions during the 2022 season.
“There are already great players at Alabama,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to play with those guys? I want to play with guys who are just as good as me. I feel like we can do something special.”
Official visits to Ohio State and Oregon were cancelled prior to his trip to Tuscaloosa. The finalists include Alabama, Florida State and Ole Miss. Key is weighing the pros/cons of each school, will decide what is the best overall fit, and how he sees himself fitting in as a player.
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Alabama speaks for itself
Jaylen Key in Tuscaloosa earlier this week.
Some believe the decision may ultimately come down between Alabama and Florida State. He is from Tallahassee (Godby High School). The Seminoles have also heavily recruited him with selling Key on replacing recent NFL draft fifth round pick, Jammie Robinson. Key has also not eliminated the Rebels, and considers all three as contenders in these final days before the announcement.
A decision will likely take place before the end of the next week. He is still working out the final details while also deciding the best choice for his final year of college football. Alabama made quite the last impression.
“The program speaks for itself,” Key stated. “It lives up to its name. They prepare players for the next level. That’s my biggest goal in this whole ordeal. My dad really liked the visit based on the people we spent time with like T-Rob, Coach Saban and Mrs. Terry.
“I really like the overall atmosphere. Alabama is expected to be great. They are very player-centric. Everything involved with the players is first class. It’s all about making the players comfortable, but preparing them for the next level at all costs. They have all the resources available. They give players a better shot than most other places. The environment there is different. Everyone is striving to be great.”
Alabama has added two commitments in the last three weeks from the transfer portal in (Trey) Amos and former Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner. A final piece for the Tide’s 2023 roster may happen later this week from the former Blazer. Alabama also added portal additions from tight end CJ Dippre (Maryland) and inside linebacker Trezmen Marshall (Georgia). Both participated in spring practice.
Transfer portal background information
The NCAA Transfer Portal, which covers every NCAA sport at the Division I, II and III levels, is a private database with names of student-athletes who wish to transfer. It is not accessible to the public.
The process of entering the portal is done through a school’s compliance office. Once a player provides written notification of an intent to transfer, the office enters the player’s name in the database and everything is off and running. The compliance office has 48 hours to comply with the player’s request and that request cannot be refused.
Once a player’s name shows up in the portal, other schools can contact the player. Players can change their minds at any point and withdraw from the portal. However, once a player enters the portal, the current scholarship no longer has to be honored. In other words, if a player enters the portal but decides to stay, the school is not obligated to provide a scholarship anymore.
The database is a normal database, sortable by a variety of topics, including (of course) sport and name. A player’s individual entry includes basic details such as contact info, whether the player was on scholarship and whether the player is transferring as a graduate student.
A player can ask that a “do not contact” tag be placed on the report. In those instances, the players don’t want to be contacted by schools unless they’ve initiated the communication.
The portal has been around since Oct. 15, 2018 and the new calendar cycle within the portal begins each August. For example, the 2021-22 cycle started Aug. 1. During the 2020-21 cycle, 2,626 FBS football players entered the transfer portal (including walk-ons). That comes after 1,681 entered during the 2019-20 cycle and 1,709 during the abbreviated 2018-19 cycle. In comparison, 1,833 Division I basketball players entered the portal during the 2020-21 cycle after totals of 1,020 in 2019-20 and 1,063 in 2018-19.
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