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Building the Ultimate Alabama Team: Linebackers

This will be difficult...

Kevin C. Cox
Rules? We don't need no stinkin' rules.

Below is the list of players (in no particular order) that Jtad, OWB and I feel should be considered.

— The community will vote and the top 6 linebackers who will move on to the final round.

— Who you choose will be based on your own criteria. If they had a successful NFL career and that is part of your decision, so be it. If you want to focus solely on their career at Alabama, again that's up to you. My suggestion would be to wait to vote and allow the discussions in the comments to guide you. The choice may be obvious but you only get one vote per round, so make it count.

— If I missed a player, and the community feels he should have been included, a single write-in candidate will be allowed.

— Remember, only players who played in the Bear era (1958-1982) to present are included.

*player profiles are from Wikipedia (sue me)

Woodrow Lowe

*Lowe will be considered a write-in candidate for the final round since I mistakenly left him off the ballot for this round.

Lowe became one of only two Alabama players to be named an All American three times (the other is Cornelius Bennett) when he was named an All-American in 19731974, and1975. Lowe also played on four SEC championship teams, and one national championship team, while he was at Alabama.

Lowe also holds the Alabama record for most tackles in a season, with 134 stops as a sophomore in 1973. He ranks third all-time in tackles at Alabama, with 315 in his career.

Demeco Ryans

Ryans went on to become the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year for his performance in 2005. Later on, Ryans attributed much of his college success to his defensive coordinator at Alabama, Joe Kines. He was named the 2006 Cotton Bowl Classic defensive MVP in their 13-10 win over Texas Tech. Following his 2005 senior season, he received the Lott Trophy for his combination of athletic excellence and off-the-field achievements, and was recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American.

2006 NCAA Top Eight Award (Class of 2006)
2006 Cotton Bowl Classic - Defensive MVP
2005 Consensus first-team All-American
2005 SEC - Defensive Player of the Year
2005 First-team All-SEC
2005 Lott Trophy
2005 Bednarik Trophy Semifinalist
2005 Butkus Award Finalist
2005 Draddy Award Finalist

Barry Krauss

He played college football at the University of Alabama for the legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, and was a key member of Alabama's 1978 National Championship football team. At the 1979 Sugar Bowl in one of the most famous plays in college football history, Krauss stopped Penn State running back Mike Guman short of the goal line late in the 4th quarter to help the Crimson Tide to the National Championshi Krauss was selected MVP of the game for his efforts

Courtney Upshaw

In his senior season, Upshaw started all 13 games for the Crimson Tide. He accounted for 51 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.For his on-field performance, Upshaw was named first team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America and The Sporting News. He was also recognized as second team All-America by the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Associated Press.In the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, Upshaw was named the defensive MVP with his seven tackle performance, which included one sack and one tackle for a loss.

Year GP–GS Tackles Sacks Pass Defense Fumbles Blocked
Solo Ast Total Loss–Yards No–Yards Int–Yards BU PD QBH No–Yards FF Kick
2008[15] 13–0 12 10 22 3–3 0–0 0–0 2 2 1 0–0 0 0
2009[16] 14–1 7 8 15 1–1 1–1 0–0 0 0 4 2–45 0 0
2010[7] 13–13 32 20 52 14.5–69 7–40 0–0 2 2 2 1–0 4 0
2011[9] 13–13 37 15 52 18-90 9.5–62 1–45 12 13 10 0–0 2 0
Total 87 53 140 35.5–157 17.5–103 1–45 5 5 18 3–45 6 0

Leroy Jordan

Jordan was again an important part of the team as Alabama finished with an 11–0 record, a SEC Championship, and a national championship. The season included six shutouts, which included a 34-0 win over rival Auburn. Alabama wrapped up the season with a 10-3 victory overArkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

In his senior season, the Crimson Tide fell short of another national championship with a 10-1 record. In his final game for the Tide, Jordan recorded 31 tackles in a 17-0 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.For his performance, he received his second MVP award in a bowl game. At the end of his senior year, he received unanimous All-American status and the Lineman of the Year award.

During his career for Alabama, Jordan received high praise from Bryant, who stated, "He was one of the finest football players the world has ever seen. If runners stayed between the sidelines, he tackled them. He never had a bad day, he was 100 percent every day in practice and in the games.

Cornelius Bennett

Bennett was a first selection on the College Football All-America Team 3 times (1984-1986). He is one of only two Alabama players to be named to three All-America teams, the other being fellow linebacker Woodrow Lowe. As a senior, he won the Lombardi Award, SEC Player of the Year honors, and finished 7th in balloting for the Heisman Trophy. In his 4 seasons there, Bennett recorded 287 tackles, 21½ sacks, and 3 fumble recoveries. His most famous play was in 1986 when he leveled Notre Dame quarterback Steve Beuerlein, immortalized in a painting by artist Daniel Moore titled simply, The Sack.'[1] In 2005, Bennett was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Derrick Thomas

Alongside Cornelius Bennett and later Keith McCants, Thomas spearheaded one of the best defensive lines in college football and smashed many Crimson Tide defensive records, including sacks in a single season. He was awarded the Butkus Award in 1988 after a season which saw him set an NCAA record 27 sacks along with finishing 10th in Heisman Trophy balloting. He currently holds the single season NCAA FBS sack record with 27 and what was the career sack record with 52 career sacks. He was also selected as a unanimous All-American at the conclusion of the 1988 season, a season which culminated in the Crimson Tide's thrilling 29-28 victory over Army in the 1988 Sun Bowl. In 2000, Thomas was named a Sun Bowl Legend.[2] He was awarded the Sington Soaring Spirit Award by the Lakeshore Foundation. This annual award is named for University of Alabama football legend Fred Sington. Thomas was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2014

Keith McCants

In 1989, he led the Crimson Tide with 119 tackles and 4 sacks. After Alabama's victory against Tennessee, McCants was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week by the league office[11] for his 16 tackles and two sacks. Three weeks later, he was named Sports Illustrated defensive player of the week after totaling 18 tackles in an Alabama victory over LSU. In the last game of the 1989 regular season against Auburn, dubbed the Iron Bowl, McCants was named the CBS Player of the Game for Alabama with 18 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble. A high point for the Tide from the game was McCants' display of "incredible athletic talent" in running down Auburn receiver Shane Wasden from behind and preventing a touchdown.[6]Additionally, it was the second straight Iron Bowl in which McCants led the Tide in tackles, combining for 35 total between the 1988 and 1989 matchups
Among a number of individual honors, McCants finished his college career with 197 total tackles, including 16 tackles for a loss.[12] Additionally, McCants 119 tackles that year puts him tied for 6th all time for tackles in a single season by an Alabama player.

Rolando McClain

As a true freshman in 2007, he started 8 of 13 games for the Crimson Tide, finishing fourth on the team in tackles with 75. He also recorded twointerceptions and a sack and was a freshmen All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection.

During his sophomore season in 2008, McClain compiled 95 tackles, three sacks, and an interception, earning Associated Press (AP) third-team All-American honors, and was a first-team All-SEC selection.

For the 2009 season, McClain had 105 total tackles including 14.5 tackles for loss. He also had four sacks, fourteen quarterback hurries, two interceptions, three passes broken up, and a forced fumble. He was named Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) National Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Kentucky Wildcats in early October.Following the SEC Championship Game, Rolando was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and a first-team All-SEC selection.

On December 7, 2009, McClain was announced as the winner of the 2009 Lambert Award for the best collegiate linebacker. He is the first Alabama linebacker to win the Lambert Award since its inception in 1991. A day later, he was also awarded the 2009 Dick Butkus Award, being only the second Crimson Tide player to do so (along with Derrick Thomas in 1988). He was recognized a unanimous first-team All-American, after being named to the first teams of the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News, and Walter Camp Football Foundation.

CJ Mosley

The AP recognized Mosley as a first team All-American after the 2012 regular season, a year after former teammate linebacker Dont'a Hightower made the AP All-American first team and other linebacker teammate Courtney Upshaw made the second team. With Mosley's selection to the AP All-American team in 2012, Alabama had a linebacker on that team (first through third teams) for four of the previous five years. Mosley led the team in tackles in 2012 with 107; sophomore Trey DePriest was second with 59 tackles. Mosley finished third for the 2012 Butkus Award (goes to the country's best linebacker) behind Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'oand Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones. Mosley earned Alabama's MVP award in 2012.Mosley's three career interception returns for touchdowns tied an Alabama record. Mosley indicated in December 2012 that he will return to Alabama for his senior season.

Mosley led the Alabama football team in tackles (108) for the second consecutive year, averaging the most tackles-per-game in his college career. In November 2013 Mosley was a semifinalist for the Lombardi, Bednarik and Butkus Awards.Alabama coaches chose Mosley as one of the "players of the week" in nine of Alabama's first ten games of the 2013 season.

Mosley was again a first-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection. He was also selected to the First Team of the Associated Press' All-America Team.

Dont'a Hightower

Hightower attended the University of Alabama, where he played for coach Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide football team from 2008 to 2011. As one of only two true freshmen to be regular starter for the Crimson Tide in 2008, Hightower started 12 games while playing in all 14 at weakside inside linebacker ("Will") in the Alabama's 3-4 defense, next to Rolando McClain who occupied the other inside linebacker spot ("Mike"). Hightower recorded 64 tackles (4th on the team) and 2.5 tackles for loss, while also having one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He had at least one tackle in each game and had five or more stops in seven of 14 games, including 10 against Tulane and a career-high 11 at LSU. He was subsequently named to numerous Freshman All-American teams.

For the 2009 season, during the Arkansas game, Hightower suffered a knee injury in the first quarter when he was cut blocked by an Arkansas lineman. He was diagnosed a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and missed the rest of the season with surgery. True freshman Nico Johnson replaced him at weakside linebacker. Hightower recorded 16 tackles including 4 tackles for loss. Having played only four games, he was granted a medical redshirt making him a redshirt sophomore in 2010.

Returning for the 2010 season, Hightower was expected to "be the nucleus of a young defense". He replaced McClain as Alabama's middle linebacker, and captained a defense that ranked No. 1 nationally in all five major categories-scoring defense (8.8 ppg), total defense (191.3 ypg), rushing defense (74.9 ypg), pass efficiency defense (83.9 ypg) and pass defense (116.3 ypg). Hightower led the team with a career-best 81 tackles, including 37 solo stops, as well as three sacks (-16 yards) and 9.5 tackles for loss (-35 yards). He also registered eight quarterback hurries, one interception, one blocked field goal and three pass breakups.

Hightower was a consensus first-team All-American by the Associated Press, AFCA and Walter Camp as well as and Pro Football Weekly. He was also a finalist for the Lombardi Award, Chuck Bednarik Award, the Butkus Award and the Lott Trophy.

Year GP–GS Tackles Sacks Pass Defense Fumbles Blocked
Solo Ast Total Loss–Yards No–Yards Int–Yards BU PD QBH Rcv–Yards FF Kick
2008 14–12 26 38 64 2.5–6 0.0–0 0–0 0 0 6 2–8 1 0
2009 4–4 5 11 16 4.0–7 1.0–4 0–0 1 1 2 0–0 0 0
2010 14–14 30 40 70 3.5–8 0.0–0 1–2 3 5 9 0 1 0
2011 13–13 40 45 85 11.0–46 4.0–26 1–29 3 4 8 0 1 1
Total 101 134 235 21.0–67 5.0–30 2–31 7 10 25 2–8 3 1
  • 2004 Second-team All-SEC
  • 2005 Lombardi Award Semifinalist
  • 2005 Nagurski Award Finalist