Downs earned a starting safety spot as a true freshman in 2023 and became the first known freshman to lead the team in tackles, according to his school bio. He earned first-team All-SEC honors and was the SEC’s Newcomer of the Year.
Downs received numerous freshman All-America honors and also received second-team All-America honors for all players from The Associated Press.
Downs finished fourth in the SEC in tackles with 107 and had a hand in four turnovers with a forced fumble, a recovered fumble and two interceptions. He also returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown.
Against Texas, he had 10 tackles and forced a fumble, and he led the team in tackles in the Tide’s Rose Bowl loss to Michigan.
Downs (6 feet, 203 pounds) projects as one of the top picks in the 2026 NFL draft. He’ll have two seasons remaining wherever he goes before draft eligibility. He’ll be one of the most talented and coveted players to enter the transfer portal this season. Former Alabama coach Nick Saban had been unusually effusive in describing Downs’ talent and ceiling for a freshman.
On his radio show this season, Saban said of Downs: “I think what impresses me most about Caleb Downs is his maturity. He’s a very instinctive football player, but this guy, there’s no arrogance about him, being one of the best players in the country at his position.”
Downs joins sophomore receiver Isaiah Bond as front-line Crimson Tide players to enter the portal since Saban’s retirement. Bond has since transferred to Texas.
Alabama’s offensive line also took a hit Wednesday as starting left tackle Kadyn Proctor announced he will be entering the transfer portal.
Proctor, ESPN’s No. 10 overall recruit and No. 2 offensive tackle in the 2023 class, started throughout the season and earned freshman All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches.
The 6-foot-7, 360-pound player from Des Moines, Iowa, initially committed to Iowa as a high school recruit before switching to Alabama. He also received significant interest from Oregon and other programs.
Caleb Downs is the younger brother of Josh Downs, the Colts rookie wide receiver who starred at North Carolina. Their father, Gary Downs, played running back in the NFL for the Giants, Broncos and Falcons.
Entering college, Caleb Downs chose Alabama over Georgia, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Clemson. He was a five-star recruit and ESPN’s No. 11 recruit in 2023 coming out of high school.
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.