This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
We're going heavy on the YouTube tonight folks, because picking one all time favorite player is a fool's errand. So instead, I'm breaking it up into four categories based on the different stages of my life/fandom and choosing a player on both offense and defense, because I can.
From My Youth
Growing up in the 80s and really becoming aware of the individual players during the unfortunate Curry years, no two players from that era stand out in my mind more than Bobby Humphrey and Derrick Thomas, Humphrey for being almost impossible to stop and Thomas for pretty much the exact same reason. And since OTS mentioned the Hurricane Bowl earlier, here are some highlights from that game which you might as well consider a Derrick Thomas highlight reel:
And here's an example of why Humphrey made such an impression on my young mind:
From the Stallings Era
Since this is the era when I really started paying attention, things get a little more difficult. On offense, I have to go with Jay Barker. The guy left with a 35-2-1 record as a starter despite not being the most gifted quarterback to ever take a snap, and on top of that he has been nothing but a class act his entire tenure in the public eye. On defense, Antonio Langham. Yeah, he wound up getting us in trouble on Bourbon Street but the dude was just flat out amazing to watch. For example, please fast forward to the 1:08 mark:
From the Lean Times
This group is a little bit harder to choose from since I've found that the hard times are the ones that really shape you as a fan, and the unfortunately rare great moments are that much more special in your memories because of it. So some honorable mentions need to go out to Ken Darby (the greatest crime of the Shula era is that Darby is not the all time rushing leader), Tim Castille, Le'Ron McClain, DeMeco Ryans, Freddie Roach, Jeremy Clark, Wesley Britt, Evan Mathis, Antwan Odom, and Reggie Myles, all of whom were great players that unfortunately came to Alabama at a very difficult time. With that out of the way, on offense I have to go with Shaud Williams. Maybe kind of a weird choice, I know, but think about it this way, he transferred here from Texas Tech because of Francione, "held the rope" when the sanctions came down, and then still played his heart out when Fran bolted. Plus, he apparently is a very, very patient man:
On defense, Roman Harper will always be my favorite part of the great '04 and '05 defenses for one tackle alone:
Still almost brings a tear to my eye...
From The Present
Easiest choice so far, and he counts for both sides of the ball since he played both and is big enough to count as two people. We all owe him our undying allegiance, and don't even think of not naming your first born child after him, be it boy or girl. Ladies and gentlemen, The Legend of Terrence Cody: