When choosing the top three corners of the Nick Saban era a year ago, three things were taken into account: coverage skills, versatility and toughness.
Milliner posted a pair of four pass breakup games in 2012.
With those attributes in mind, I went with Javier Arenas at the top of the list. The Tampa native wasn't the biggest or fastest corner to come through Tuscaloosa since 2007, just the best all-around football player.
And those very same qualities are why we have a new No. 1 this time around.
Like Arenas, Dee Milliner is a versatile performer, capable of contributing at multiple spots in the secondary and also on special teams. The deciding factor in the change at the top, though, was coverage skills.
Arenas played like a big corner during his time at UA, but Milliner is a big corner blessed with the speed and athleticism needed to lock down receivers both inside and out. In 2012, Milliner's talents where on full display as he posted coverage numbers that were the best of any UA corner since 1989, when John Mangum recorded a school-record 24 pass breakups.
When talent meets up with production, the choice is easy.
1.] Dee Milliner (2010-2012)
Previous ranking: 5
Why he's here: Twenty pass breakups in 2012 rank second on UA's all-time single-season list. Thirty-six career pass breakups also rank second all-time among Alabama defenders. Averaged 1.69 passes defended per game last season, which ranked first in the SEC and tied for second nationally. Made 30 starts in three seasons with the Crimson Tide, including 11 as a true freshman in 2010.
Claim to fame: In addition to being a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy (nation's top defensive player) and Jim Thorpe Award (nation's top defensive back), Milliner was a unanimous first-team all-america selection in 2012.
Memorable moment: VIDEO: A few of Milliner's greatest hits.
Next level: Projected to go in the top 10 picks of April's NFL Draft.
2.] Javier Arenas (2006-2009)
Previous ranking: 1
Why he's here: Easily one of the most versatile performers of the Saban era, Arenas played both inside at star in the nickel and dime packages and outside at left corner in the base defense. Made 28 starts while at UA, recording eight interceptions, 154 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. And have we mentioned that he was a pretty good return guy, too?
Claim to fame: Permanent team captain and second-team All-America selection in 2009.
Memorable moment: VIDEO: Arenas picks off Tebow.
Next level: Selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round (No. 50 overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft. Has made 12 starts in three seasons with the Chiefs, including a career high nine in 2012. Has 149 tackles, two interceptions, 23 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Also has 105 punt returns for 1,029 yards (9.8 avg.), 50 kickoff returns for 1,048 yards (21.0 avg.) and one special teams tackle.
3.] Kareem Jackson (2007-2009)
Previous ranking: 3
Why he's here: Stepped on campus in the spring of 2007 and proceeded to lock down the right corner spot for the next three seasons. Made 40 career starts, posting 159 tackles, including eight for loss and five interceptions.
Claim to fame: Freshman All-SEC and Freshman All-America in 2007. Jackson's 29 career pass breakups rank fifth on UA’s all-time list
Memorable moment: VIDEO: Alabama stuffs Ole Miss
Next level: Selected by the Houston Texans in the first round (No. 20 overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft. Made 44 starts in first three seasons as a pro, recording 166 tackles and seven interceptions. Four interceptions and 16 passes defended in 2012 were both career highs.
Next three: Dre Kirpatrick (2009-2011) (2); DeQuan Menzie (2010-2011) (4); Simeon Castille (2004-2007)/Marquis Johnson (2006-2009) (6).
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