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Nick Saban admitted Alabama once wanted Quinyon Mitchell to enter transfer portal: ‘He was our No. 1 guy’

For the first time in decades, Nick Saban is not spending the spring preparing a college football team for the fall. The seven-time national championship winner retired in January.

Saban is expected to remain involved in Alabama’s football program in a “supportive” capacity. But his schedule will no longer be filled with the responsibilities that come with being a head coach.

Saban has since taken a college football analyst role with ESPN. Even when he was still coaching, Saban made multiple appearances on ESPN’s “College GameDay” panels whenever the Crimson Tide were not playing the same day. He has also been a frequent guest of “The Pat McAfee Show.” 

On Thursday, Saban was featured in the network’s 2024 NFL Draft coverage, and he made a surprising revelation about one of the highly touted defensive prospects.

The Philadelphia Eagles had the 22nd overall pick and selected former Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell Thursday night. 


Although Mitchell spent his entire college football career at Toledo and did not enter the transfer portal, apparently that did not diminish Alabama’s interest in the star defensive back. 

“He was our No. 1 guy in the portal last year to try to get him to come out of the portal, and he didn’t ever get in the portal,” Saban said moments after Mitchell’s name came off the draft board.

Quinyon Mitchell poses for a photo

A record number of offensive players went in the first round of this year’s draft, with Mitchell being one of just nine defensive players selected Thursday. 

Fellow cornerback Terrion Arnold, who Saban coached at Alabama, went just two picks after Mitchell. Saban did not share any other details about what a potential pursuit of Mitchell could have entailed. 

Quinyon Mitchell arrives at NFL Draft

But the former coach’s comments do shed some light on the tactics programs across the country might practice even before a player formally enters the transfer portal. 

The Buffalo Bills hold the 33rd pick and will be on the clock to start the second round. The draft will conclude Saturday.

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