Former Mill Creek star, Caleb Downs, awarded Maxwell Football Club’s Shaun Alexander Freshman Player of the Year Award.

Former Mill Creek star Caleb Downs is being honored on March 8 at the Maxwell Football Club National Football Awards as he received the Shaun Alexander Freshman Player of the Year Award. Downs helped lead Mill Creek to its first-ever state title in 2022 while playing both ways, accumulating 83 tackles to go along with five interceptions on defense while catching 57 passes for 390 yards and 20 touchdowns. Downs was the top player from Georgia in the Class of 2023, winning both the Mr. Georgia Football and Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year awards.

“Everyone can see he is a playmaker, he is physical and checks the boxes as far as a football player, and all the things you’d expect from a kid of his caliber being at that level,” said Down’s high school head coach Josh Lovelady. “What you see on the field as a coach is his composure and his ability to communicate effectively in the secondary. That was huge, even as a freshman. Being able to, in a sense, if you don’t watch the ball and watch him and his ability to make adjustments and checks, that’s not easy because there’s a lot of stuff being thrown at the secondary. Especially with the way the game is right now. What I loved is his loyalty and his passion. Those are two characteristics I would say are really outstanding, and then his faith.”

Following his senior season, Downs decided to attend the University of Alabama to play under legendary head coach Nick Saban. Downs was one of the top recruits in Alabama’s top-ranked 2023 recruiting class, being a consensus top-10 player in the country. Downs showed his ability as soon as he was on campus, drawing comparisons to former Alabama star Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is viewed as one of the best safeties in program history.

Downs entered his freshman season as the Crimson Tide’s unquestioned starter at safety. He showed why in Week 1 by making eight total tackles in his debut against Middle Tennessee State. Downs would go on to lead the Crimson Tide in tackles, making 107 total tackles to go along with two interceptions and four pass deflections. He also took over the punt return duties, becoming the main punt returner for Alabama in Week 12 against Chattanooga. Downs made four punt returns over the final four games of the season, including returning an 85-yard punt return touchdown against the Mocs.

After the regular season, Downs helped the Tide upset then No. 1 ranked Georgia in the SEC Championship, breaking the Bulldogs’ 29-game win streak. In Alabama’s College Football Playoff game at the Rose Bowl, he had a masterful game leading the team with eight total tackles to go along with a pass deflection, helping to hold the eventual national champion Michigan to only 20 points, 16 points below the Wolverines’ season average.

Following the retirement of Nick Saban and the departure of defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson to Georgia, who was his primary recruiter, Downs decided to enter the transfer portal. Downs was the consensus top player in the transfer portal, with many suitors including Georgia and Ohio State. Only three days after entering his name into the portal, Downs shocked many by choosing to play for Ryan Day and Ohio State over the in-state Bulldogs.

Downs will be honored along with many other all-time, current, and future greats on March 8, from 4:00-9:15 p.m. during the 87th Annual National Football Awards held at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, GA. For more information on the event and tickets, click here.





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