(Disclaimer: I am aware that the site has posted salutes to the seniors. However, I am in college and write on my own whenever I have free time. I have yet to read those salutes, but you have my word that I will. If any information seems directly taken from those posts, I promise it has not been. I hope you enjoy my second fanpost!)
Students of The University of Alabama:
I don't ask much of you. In fact, I don't think I have ever asked you for anything, so I'm coming in with a clean slate.
On Saturday afternoon, your Alabama Crimson Tide will take on the Chattanooga Mocs in what will ultimately amount to a tune-up game before the Iron Bowl of the Century.
Here's why you need to stay for the entire game (it's a shame I even have to write this):
1. Do it for the seniors in the student section. They love Alabama football just as much as I hope you do, and they will never get the chance to sit in the student (as a student, at least) for the rest of their life. Try to make BDS electric for them, at least. You'll be in that position before you know it.
2. Do it for Coach. I know a lot of you got your feelings hurt when Coach Saban called out the fans, but you responded by creating a haunting atmosphere for the LSU game. Let's get something close to that this Saturday.
3. Believe it or not, the crowd has an effect on recruiting. If that 5-star from Louisiana doesn't see Bryant-Denny Stadium as a fun place to play, he probably doesn't commit here, goes to LSU, and makes a big play a few years down the road to beat us. Extreme example? Yes. Could this happen? Let's not wait to find out. Come to the game.
3. I know it's Chattanooga. I know it's at 1:00 P.M. I know there are other good games on (there probably won't be at this time, anyway), but you need to be at this football game for the young men I am about to list.
Kenny Bell, John Fulton, Deion Belue, Cody Mandell, Nick Perry, Tyler Bass, Cade Foster, Matt Tinney, Ed Stinson, Anthony Steen, Kellen Williams, Ty Reed, Kevin Norwood, C.J. Mosely, and A.J. McCarron.
Be there for John Fulton, Nick Perry, Tyler Bass, Matt Tinney, Kellen Williams, and Ty Reed. They work just as hard as the other seniors on this list. They went through four (or five) years of the infamous Fourth Quarter Program. They all went through fall camp. Make sure to give these guys a hefty ovation on Saturday. They're all mentally tough young men. You don't get through Scott Cochran yelling at you for four years without having some mettle.
Be there for Kenny Bell, who actually left the team to take care of more important things, only to have those things resolved a few days later. His first game back? He scores against Texas A&M, a team we beat by only 7 points.
Be there for Deion Belue. If any of you watched Alabama closely last season, he was picked on repeatedly in our biggest games. This season? He has been shutdown. Aside from the first half against LSU, quarterbacks have avoided his side of the field altogether.
Be there for Cody Mandell. As a freshman, he was a liability and struggled in some big games. As a senior, he is second nationally in punting average. He won't qualify for any postseason awards because our offense doesn't punt the ball enough, but he is a true testament to the phrase, "Hard work pays off." Mandell is a weapon used for field position, and when you're trying to defend a national championship, you need all the field you can get.
Be there for Cade Foster. Yes, I know he struggled in that game. Yes, I know he was only used in special field goal situations last season. But he has been remarkably consistent in the 2013 campaign. That might not be saying much, but it's a hell of a lot more than what was said two years ago. I feel confident when he lines up for 45-yard field goals now. If that doesn't impress you, I'm not sure what will.
Be there for Ed Stinson. A quiet contributor on the last two national championship squads, he has wrecked opponents' gameplans his whole career. Just watch him during games. Outside of the team he plays on, you won't find many 3-4 defensive ends who are better than Stinson. He'll be playing on Sundays. Mark my words.
Be there for Anthony Steen. As the unheralded member of that classic 2012 offensive line, he has been nothing short of a beast this year. He has probably made the least improvement from the Virginia Tech game until now out of all our offensive linemen. That's because he has been rock-solid all season long. We'll look back a few years from now and miss Anthony Steen. That type of consistency from the offensive line can never be understated.
Be there for Kevin Norwood. I could just post that picture of him in the BCSNCG and be done, but Norwood deserves more. He burst onto the scene after humbling Tyrann Mathieu in the National Championship Game. He had a very good 2012 season up until the last drive at LSU last year, but he earned his "Mr. Go To" nickname in that one. Look, there's not much to say about Norwood except that he never drops passes, always seems to be encouraging his teammates, graduated from college in three and a half years, and is the most clutch receiver I remember watching at Alabama in quite some time. Norwood won't lose you a ballgame, but he can sure go win it for you. You know what, Kevin? Here you go.
Be there for C.J. Mosley. A lot of people don't know this about the senior linebacker, but he was never a full-time starter until this season. He would play primarily in nickel situations, which is crazy considering how many times I remember him running down the sidelines with an interception. If it seems like he's been here 6 years, that's a good thing. He's what we all want Alabama football players to be: well-mannered and respectable off the field, but a madman inside the white lines. Mosley is the prototypical Saban linebacker, and that is about the nicest thing you can say about an Alabama defender these days. He had to become more of a vocal leader this year, and he responded big time. Just like we all expected him to.
Be there for A.J. McCarron. 35-2 as a starter. Winner of two national championships. All-time school leader in passing yards and touchdowns. NCAA all-time leader in passes per interception thrown. Orchestrator of The Rally in Death Valley. Thrower of the game-winning touchdown pass in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. Hugger of Nick Saban. This dynasty did not start with A.J. McCarron, but I'm not sure it would have existed without him. He perfectly toes the line between game manager (whatever that means) and gunslinger. We will probably never see a quarterback like him again. He's so fascinating because he isn't fascinating. He's not just a system quarterback. He has thrived in the system, and the system thrives because of him. Take note of how in-control he seems at all times on Saturday. That's not an accident. A.J. is the best we've seen and may ever see here. At least be there for that.
Lastly, be there for yourselves. The 2013 crowds have blown 2012 out of the water in terms of noise. You all make up the best student section in the best stadium in America. You owe it to yourselves to create the House of Horrors one last time in 2013.
See you at the game.