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Predictions for Alabama Football in 2016

In 2014, I figured that Blake Sims would start as quarterback, and he did, he set a school record for passing yards in a single season. Then I said Jake Coker would be passed on the depth chart, and he wound up leading the Tide to the national championship trophy.

I think Blake Barnett is a leader. Maybe. But is he going to get the starting job? Because I shouldn’t discount Cooper Bateman, who was the No. 2 last year, or David Cornwell, who was seen as a possible favorite after last year’s practices.  Right now we don’t have an all-time great under center.

In my opinion, Alabama coach Nick Saban never called on a running back as much as Derrick Henry. The two-back system he employed so effortlessly at Alabama practically went extinct last year as Henry ran all the way to a Heisman Trophy.  He’s one of the best backs we have ever had.

The two back system, in my opinion is back, with Bo Scarbrough who seems like the favorite to replace Henry, but chances are he will get much assistance in the form of Damien Harris.  The latest Heisman odds  seem to agree.  Scarbrough is only 20/1 to win the trophy, which seems to indicate he’s going to share duties to much to put up the numbers to be called the best in the game.

I believe the key to this season is this Alabama defense. Will the defense be as good as 2015? I sure hope and dream so! With the departure of Reed, Robinson and Ragland in the front defensive line is very difficult to overcome. So is seeing Cyrus Jones and Geno Matias-Smith leave the secondary which seems insurmountable. But what really is a concern is that for the first time in eight years a new coach will be calling the defense.  Can he develop more quality defensive players like Smart did?

Jeremy Pruitt will represent a transition as possible given his previous experience on the staff, it is yet to be determined how things go with Kirby Smart gone.

Alabama should be good but with so many losses to the NFL, I think they will reload and start with some inexperienced players. The good news is coach Saban and offensive coaches return and they know how to motivate the Alabama teams.

Off the field issues may rear a ugly head with 3-4 players facing discipline issues with local District Attorney office and facing charges.

If you listened to coach Saban, he said he would deal with it in house. He also said Cam is not a knuckle head that’s in trouble all the time. As much as we need him at LT we also need his leadership on the O line. We’re going to be criticized no matter what we do so I hope he plays and puts this behind him against USC.

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Top 5 Running Backs in Alabama History

The recent dominance from the Alabama Crimson Tide football teams have come on the backs of a few great running backs. So the question arises, who is the greatest running back in Crimson Tide history? I have comprised a list of the top five running backs in Tide history. This list includes on the field performance and overall program impact.

5. Bobby Humphrey: 1985-1988
Career longevity is the top reason that Humphrey cracked this list. He was a four year starter that earned multiple All-American honors and nearly 5,000 total yards from scrimmage. Humphrey was also responsible for putting the ball in the endzone 40 times and leading Alabama to a bowl game in each of his four seasons.

4. Trent Richardson: 2009-2011
The only reason Richardson is not higher on this list is due to the fact that he had to split reps with Mark Ingram in two of his three years playing at Alabama. Richardson was a Heisman finalist and All-American during his lone year starting in Tuscaloosa. He also helped lead the Crimson Tide to two National Championships along with his quarterback AJ McCarron. In 2011, he broke the single season rushing record at Alabama. He finished his career with 3,860 yards on just 608 rushing attempts.

3. Shaun Alexander: 1995-1999
Though Alexander did not have the team success that Richardson achieved, he was a bright light for the Crimson Tide during a dark time. He started in all of his four seasons at Alabama and racked up over 4,000 yards and 49 touchdowns during his career. In his senior season, he helped carry his team to a SEC championship and a birth in the Orange Bowl.

2. Mark Ingram: 2008-2010
Ingram helped build perhaps one of the greatest dynasties in college football history. He helped Nick Saban win his first BCS National Championship against a stout Texas Longhorns football team. In 2009, Ingram became the first player in the storied history of Alabama football to win the Heisman trophy. He ended his career with 3,931 yards and 46 total touchdowns.  He was the perfect tool to grind teams away while the defense shut down the opposing offense.

1. Derrick Henry: 2013-2015
The top spot on this list goes to perhaps the most physically gifted player in Alabama history. In 2015, he blew away Trent Richardson’s single season rushing record by nearly 800 yards. His productivity while in Tuscaloosa was unprecedented. He averaged over 6 yards a carry and 42 total touchdowns. Henry became the second player in Alabama history to win the Heisman trophy when he accomplished this feat in 2015. This year’s team could have used him again, but he left school early for the NFL.  Henry was the best running back to ever dawn a Crimson Tide helmet.

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Best Alabama Quarterbacks in History

The Alabama football program has been doing amazing things in recent years. Head Coach Nick Saban has built a program that competes for the National Championship almost every year. His players are the best in the nation and each year they help to fill up the NFL draft. A number of those great players have been quarterbacks. Will he develop one this year?  Who knows, but what I do know is that these are the best quarterbacks in Alabama history.

Joe Namath

Few names in football resonate more than Joe Namath. The former NFL star got his start at Alabama. Namath established himself as and Alabama’ greatest quarterback. He was known as a superb athlete who could both pass and run. He accumulated over 15 rushing touchdowns during his career. Namath took Alabama to the 1964 national championship. He put together a 29-4 record as during his career as a starter. He had great numbers for his time period including nearly 3,000 yards passing and 24 touchdowns.

AJ McCarron

Despite what he has done in the professional ranks, AJ McCarron will always be known as one of the greatest winners in college football history. He won two national championships as quarterback of the Tide. He was known as being a quarterback that was very efficient. He doesn’t have the individual awards or successes that some of the other quarterbacks on this list have, but he was a guy who knew how to win. He did win the Maxwell Award in 2013. His career record as a starter is an amazing 36-4.  Of course, it helped that he had some of the best running backs and defensive players in Tide history.

Kenny Stabler

A great quarterback, Stabler is known just as much for his work off the field as on. He was quite the quarterback at Alabama going 19-2-1 as the starter, taking over for Joe Namath. His career includes a Sugar Bowl win over Nebraska, and his famous “Run in the Mud,” a 53-yard touchdown run to win the Iron Bowl during his senior season. Stabler would go on to have a great 15 year career in the NFL.

Jay Barker

Jay Barker’s teams were virtually unbeatable during his career at Alabama, He finished his career with an amazing 35-2-1 record as a starter. In 1992 he led the Crimson Tide to the National Championship and he finished fifth in Heisman voting. Despite having one of his worse seasons statistically he won SEC Player of the Year.

Pat Trammel

The first quarterback to play under legend Bear Bryant, Pat Trammel helped to make Alabama one of the best programs in the nation. He finished his career with 26-2-4 record as a starter. He led the Tide to their first national title under Bryant in his senior season and finished fifth in Heisman voting. Sadly he passed away from cancer at 28. In 1988 Alabama established the Pat Trammell Award, in his honor. It is given to a Crimson Tide player who exhibits character and leadership.

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All-Time Best Alabama Defensive Players

There have been only a handful of teams that have boasted the legacy, all-star power, and talent of the Alabama Crimson Tide. This team has been able to shine in its ability to have 115 All-Americans over the college’s lifetime. Nick Saban has churned out some quality running backs and QBs, but he’s really been known for his defensive stars.  However, who would the top five defensive players be in all of history at the school?

Leroy Cook

First on the list of all time defensive backs is Defensive End Leroy Cook. Cook who would be drafted in the tenth round of the draft by the 1976 Cowboys found great success with the Tide. Among those successes were a two-time All-American (74 & 75) and Team Captain in 1975. In addition, Cook also held the most tackles for a loss at 27, career sacks at 15, and had set the record for most forced fumbles (10).

CJ Mosely

The next player to make this list is C.J. Mosley, a first round draft pick to his current team, the Baltimore Ravens. However, back at Alabama Mosley was part of the BCS national championship squad in 2013, as well as its BCS MVP. In addition, Mosley was also the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, as well as the receiver of the Butkiss award.

Rolando McClain

Another first round draft pick to the NFL was none other than, Rolando McClain. While within his Alabama career, Rolando was able to be a unanimous All-American selection, and be a BCS national champion in 2009. In addition, to those accolades, Rolando also managed to secure the Butkiss award and the Lambert trophy as well.

Terrence Cody

Our fourth player to make our best of all-time list is, Terrence Cody. Cody, who went second in the draft to the Baltimore Ravens, owes that to his time he spent with the Tide. In 2009, Cody was able to become a finalist for Bednarik, Lombardi, and Nagurski trophies, and this was the same year as making it to the SEC championship. Not only would he make it to the BCS championship in 2010, but he would also be a two time, unanimously selected member of the All-American team.

Mark Barron

Finally, rounding out this top five list is, Mark Barron, and who thanks to his college career went first round in the draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Barron’s time at Safety was productive, as he would be selected as first-team All SEC for 2009-11, a first team All-American in 2010, and a unanimous All-American in 2011. All of this is impressive enough, however, and then we must include, Mark being part of the squad that won the SEC championship in 2009, and the BCS title in 2010 and 2012.

Comparisons

When I compare the previous top five of Leroy Cook, C.J. Mosley, Rolando, McClain, Terrence Cody, and Mark Barron to the current stars of Reggie Ragland, Eddie Jackson, Jonathan Allan, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and A’Shawn Robinson anyone can immediately tell why Crimson Tide is a force to be reckoned with this year. The bar of performance is set high thanks to the performances of Leroy Cook, because of this, it molded the performances of Mosley, McClain, Cody, Barron, and the current roster to perform as all-stars just to honor Cook’s collegiate memory.