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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Inseparable football duo prepares for the NFL draft

CW / Natalie Teat
Former Alabama defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry during warm-ups at the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, GA.

As prospects prepare for the NFL draft beginning on April 25, Alabama has nine prospects who are hoping to hear their name called in Detroit, Michigan. A part of that group is two cornerback prospects: Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold. 

At Alabama’s 2024 NFL draft pro day, cornerback McKinstry’s 40-yard dash was the main event. The cornerback, projected by draft pundits to be selected in the first round, had to sit out of the 2024 NFL draft scouting combine after medical exams revealed a Jones fracture in his foot.  

While McKinstry’s 40-yard dash was successful, it wasn’t the only run that caught the media’s attention. As the media focused on McKinstry, his teammate and fellow first-round cornerback prospect Arnold made a dramatic entrance, running up behind Kool-Aid and embracing him with a hug. 

The interaction indicates their strong relationship, as McKinstry and Arnold were a part of Alabama’s 2021 recruiting class. Both were five-star prospects, both defensive backs, and both became critical pieces of the Crimson Tide defense over the next three seasons of their careers.  

“That’s my brother, man; I wouldn’t even say it’s competing,” McKinstry said. “We do this every day. We’ve been doing this since we got here. We look at it like we’re making each other better.” 

McKinstry’s journey to the NFL has been denoted by early success. He quickly made his impact felt in the Crimson Tide secondary rotation during his first fall camp in Tuscaloosa. As a five-star freshman, McKinstry played in 15 games, with his signature moment coming against Alabama’s biggest rival, Auburn. His game-changing play, breaking up a 2-point conversion attempt in overtime, which set up the Crimson Tide for an eventual game-winning 2-point conversion, showcased his high potential and left fans excited for what was to come.  

2022 was McKinstry’s standout year. In his sophomore season, the Pinson, Alabama, native recorded 16 pass breakups, ranked first in the SEC and 10th in the country, en route to All-American and All-SEC honors. 

Arnold also broke out in the 2022 season after redshirting in 2021. The Tallahassee, Florida, native totaled 45 tackles and eight pass breakups, earning freshman All-American honors.   

The duo entered the 2023 season, headlining an Alabama defensive backs group that ranked fourth on Phil Steele’s 2023 defensive backroom rankings. Both would prove their worth in their final season with the Crimson Tide.  

Arnold and McKinstry headlined the Alabama secondary, helping lead the Crimson Tide to a top 20 rating nationally in passing defense, allowing just 187.8 yards per game. Arnold was the more tested of the two, having been targeted 79 times in his redshirt sophomore season. He raised his draft stock with five interceptions and 17 passes defended, both statistics ranking in the top 10 nationally. On the other hand, McKinstry was thrown at less. As a result, he didn’t record an interception and only seven passes defended. The two were both named first-team All-Americans in 2023 by The Associated Press.  

Both declaring for the 2024 NFL draft, McKinstry and Arnold are each projected to be selected in the first round.  

Alabama safety Malachi Moore had strong words when vouching for each of his former secondary partners. 

“[Kool-Aid] is somebody that’s always going to be there for you but somebody who’s always going to push you to make you better,” Moore said. “On the days that you don’t really feel like doing something, he’s always going to push you to bring that greatness out of you. Terrion is one of those guys that he’s going to talk to anybody. That’s just his personality. We talk all the time; that’s just his personality. He’s an outgoing person, kind of the same traits that Kool-Aid had, just a brother, really more than a teammate.” 

As Arnold and McKinstry are both on the brink of entering the NFL and most likely going their separate ways, Arnold says their time together in Tuscaloosa has made them both the players they are today. 

“When we came in here, we took a pact here to each other and said we were going to motivate each other to become better and push each other to become better, and we did that,” Arnold said. “He really held me to a high standard, held the team to a high standard. I can’t tell y’all what he said in the game, but that guy right there is a true competitor.” 

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