GAMEDAY: Averett relishes his starting opportunityBy Elliott Propes | 11/17/2016 9:06am
CW / Sam MacDonald
After learning a new position and recovering from injuries, Anthony Averett finally got his shot to play al Alabama. Averett earned a starting spot at corner for the Crimson Tide in 2016 and was baptized by the USC Trojan offense on opening day.
On the third play of the game, Trojans quarterback Max Browne threw a deep pass to Darreus Rogers for a 36-yard completion. That set up a field goal to put the Trojans ahead, 3-0.
“After that deep ball, it definitely woke me up, but after that I’ve always been locked in ever since,” Averett said.
Averett and the Alabama defense held the Trojans to just one more field goal, completing a 52-6 route. Some news outlets considered Averett a weak spot of the otherwise dominant Alabama defense through the first few weeks. He was targeted several times against USC and Ole Miss, but then things started to click for the redshirt junior.
“I think I’m getting more comfortable since the first game. The first game I was very... it was my first time, but now I’m comfortable and the game is getting slower,” Averett said.
Last week, Averett was targeted more than he has been all season against Mississippi State and picked up two pass break-ups. Averett stood out to many as much improved, and he now leads the entire team with seven pass break-ups.
“I mean, that game definitely got his confidence level up,” said wide receiver ArDarius Stewart. "The guys have been coming at him, trying him, thinking he’s the weakest link. I guess he showed them that if you come over there, he’s going to lock it down.”
Averett’s closing speed is what makes him stand out. The New Jersey native has been recorded at 4.3 seconds for the 40-yard dash and competes for long jump for the Alabama track team on occasion. Averett was a track star for three years in high school and won seven state championship titles at Woodbury High School.
“He really is tough to go against because he’s a fast DB,” Stewart said. “It’s hard to get past him and stay past him, because he has that pick-up speed, and he can get back level with you when you get past him. So that’s definitely something he has in his arsenal.”
Averett was also a football star and became a part of Alabama’s No. 1 recruiting class in 2013. He played a little bit of everything at Woodbury, including defensive back and running back.
At Alabama, Averett had to learn how to master one position. Then, he had to wait.
“[The position] is always deep, with Cyrus before me. I think it was Deion Belue when I got here," Averett said. "I mean, I’m bringing stuff back, but I got redshirted. It was a lot of adversity I took on, but I still worked hard and look I’m here now."
Averett said he learned from Jones the most, who now plays in the NFL for the New England Patriots. Averett said he basically tried to copy everything he saw from Jones on the field and on film, and coach Nick Saban has noticed.
"I think he's played well for us all year long and haven't given up a lot of plays. [He] plays smart. Keeps people cut off. Kind of silently goes about his business and does a really good job for us,” Saban said. “His knowledge and experience certainly has been helpful to him and that's probably enhanced his ability to play with a little more consistency as we go along.”
Now, it's finally Averett's turn to show what he has learned, and he is more than grateful to get the call from Saban.
“I’m very blessed, I feel great about it,” Averett said. “This is what I’ve been wanting to do since I’ve been here.”