Pinson Valley head coach Sam Shade has a bit of experience playing defensive back.
Shade helped Alabama win a national championship, was selected in the fourth round of the 1995 NFL Draft, and played professional football for 10 seasons.
Would he enjoy the challenge of trying to beat the Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith?
At no point in my career as a college or pro would I have said, Coach, turn me on 6, Shade said on Sports Talk 99.5 FM in Mobile this week. I might have said, Hey, let’s coach the double 6. Ill play over the top of him.
Shade, the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 6A Coach of the Year after leading the Indians to a state title in December, saw the Crimson Tide beat Ohio State Monday night from the comfort of his own home. That in no way diminished his respect for what his alma mater has achieved this year.
I thought they did a great job all year round, especially playing the 10 regular season SEC games, then being able to beat a really good Florida team with some really talented guys in various positions that gave them some matchup problems, he said. Then enter the playoffs and win. My hat goes to them because I know what they were dealing with in terms of COVID protocols and because I don’t have your head coach for a game that is probably the biggest game of the regular season against Auburn. I know they went through a lot to win that championship.
He was particularly impressed by Alabamas’ attack and Smith’s play.
He’s a special player, Shade said. I thought (former Alabama offensive coordinator / now Texas head coach Steve) Sarkisian all year round and especially the last few games played great. I know myself and some of my staff wanted to go to Tuscaloosa and have a chat with him. That’s what you do in the off season. But I told them I don’t think we’re going to Austin. That’s a bit too far.
When watching Smith, Shade said he just does everything right.
If you try to pressure him, he does a great job getting off the press, he said. When you play him out, he’s such a good track runner that he gets in and out of his breaks so well. When you look at him, he has a really good understanding of what the defense is giving him, whether they’re in the zone, whether they’re in some type of guy underneath.
He’s doing all those things well and he’s clearly very good after the catch. If you are a punt, you are definitely a man who is good with the ball in your hands. He’s just really hard to stop, especially with the way Coach Sarkisian moved him.
Maybe Shade will be even more interested in Alabama next season. His star player at Pinson this year, Mr. Football contender GaQuincy Kool-Aid McKinstry, signed with The Tide in December and is already in Tuscaloosa. McKinstry played on both sides of the ball for the Indians, but is likely to find a home in Alabamas in the near future.
Hypothetically, how would he do if he had to try and cover Smith?
He’d probably need a few more pecans before covering six, Shade said jokingly. There are some guys playing on Sunday next year who will have a hard time beating Devonta. He’s one of those guys that you really need to have in your game and really knock your technique as a player to give yourself the chance to have 1-on-1 success against him.
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