Why Trevon Diggs switched positions in college: NFL’s INTs leader was a WR until he met Nick Saban

Dallas has a good problem on its hands.

The Cowboys sit atop their division and boast a roster with a lot of talented players, many of whom are among the game’s best pass catchers.

Perhaps none more so than Trevon Diggs, who isn’t catching passes from Dak Prescott, but still has quarterbacks throwing to him — much to their, and their coaches, chagrin. That’s not to say he also hasn’t caught balls from his own quarterback before, just not in the NFL.

Diggs, a second-round pick out of Alabama in last year’s NFL Draft, began as a wide receiver with the Crimson Tide. But a mix of a loaded wide receiver room, altruism and foresight on the part of Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban led to Diggs changing to defensive back. 

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“First off, he was a really good receiver. And I think that a lot of times, guys have a vision of what they’d like to be,” Saban said on a radio show Tuesday. “But because of his skill set — he had great ball skills, really good hands and was long and very athletic — I just thought the guy would be a really good corner. Thought that maybe more value for his future if he was a corner.”

Saban has proven to be right thus far. Through the first five games of the 2021 season, Diggs has six interceptions, the most in the league, and has the NFL record for most consecutive games with an interception to start a season. He’s also more than halfway to the record of most consecutive games in any stretch of time with an interception — eight. Diggs is currently at five straight.

But Saban was also right when he said that Diggs, and others have visions of what they’d like to be. It’s why Diggs was originally so emotional when Saban suggested he change positions.

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“I was hurt at first, honestly,” Diggs said after the Cowboy’s most recent game. “I called my brother [Stefon]. I was crying.”

A talented receiver in his own right, Trevon said Stefon was there for him, but to serve as motivation, not consolation.

“He’s not someone to be like, ‘Oh, it’s okay,'” Trevon said. “He was like come on let’s go. Now we’ve gotta go to work. He’s one those types, and that’s exactly what I did. I sucked it up and just got back to work.”

Stefon affirmed to Trevon that he could play defensive back and play it well, but that he’d need to work at it. That was no problem for Trevon, though.

“He’s like, you can do it, you played it before. You’ve just got to grind. That’s all football is, is about the grind,” Trevon said. “Whatever you really believe, in you’ve really got to really go do it and really achieve it and I really believe that I can be a good corner.” 

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All told, Diggs might like to join his brother Stefon or another former Cowboys legend, Deion Sanders, as part of a receiving corps. And Stephen Jones didn’t rule that out.

As much as Saban’s decision to encourage Diggs to change positions might have stung at the time, Diggs isn’t naive. He’s seen the dividends it’s paid.

And now after “sucking it up,” and changing positions, he’s got a message for his former coach and offering his advice.

“I thank Saban for that,” Diggs said.