Cornerback Saivion Smith will enter the 2019 NFL draft rather than return to Alabama for his senior season. He made the announcement Saturday in a post to his Twitter profile.
“Alabama treated me like a family from the minute I walked on campus,” he wrote. “Thank you to Coach Saban, Coach Scott (Cochran), Coach Tosh Lupoi and the rest of the coaching staff. From the strength coaches, athletic trainers, and to the academic staff, thank you for always being there for me.
“Thank you to my teammates for making this season special. I wish we could have won the Natty, but winning the SEC Championship and Orange Bowl will be lifelong memories.”
He started 12 games for the Crimson Tide at cornerback, finishing sixth on the team with 60 tackles and posting a team-high three interceptions.
He opened the season as a starter, then was benched in the third game during Alabama's victory over Ole Miss on Sept. 15. Smith returned to the starting lineup in the seventh game when starting cornerback Trevon Diggs broke his foot against Arkansas.
He could be the only piece of the Crimson Tide's secondary with starting experience that won't be back. Diggs played the first six games as a starter before his injury, but opted to return for his senior year. Freshman Patrick Surtain II started the final 11 games of the season.
Cornerback could have been a crowded position on the depth chart with Josh Jobe returning for his sophomore season and redshirt freshman Jalyn Armour-Davis ready to play after suffering a season-ending injury early in 2018. It should remain a strength of the roster even with Smith's departure.
Starting safety Xavier McKinney will be a junior. Redshirt junior Deionte Thompson could return as well. Shyheim Carter, who played nickel, will be a senior and Jared Mayden, who came on in the dime package, also returns.
Smith was a five-star recruit in high school who chose LSU out of IMG Academy in Florida, but left Baton Rouge after his freshman season. He spent 2017 at a Mississippi junior college before transferring to Alabama with the signing class of 2018. He was one of the nation's top junior college recruits and the No. 1 junior college defensive back.
Alabama announced on Friday that four underclassmen would be leaving for the NFL, including defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.