The Chuck Bednarik Award watch list is headlined by two 2015 semifinalists, as Texas A&M junior Myles Garrett and LSU Senior Kendall Beckwith return for the 2016 campaign. Alabama checks in with a senior quartet of 4 Tide players; Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Eddie Jackson and Tim Williams, making the cut. Six other schools, Clemson. Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, TCU and Texas A&M are all strongly represented by 3 candidates each.
Derrick Henry capped a brilliant college career at Alabama by becoming the second Crimson Tide player in school history to win the 2015 Maxwell Award. He was drafted by the Tennessee Titans, and will attempt to make an immediate NFL impact this fall. 2015 Bednarik Award winner Tyler Matakevich of Temple has also moved on to the professional ranks and is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Tide starts off the season with 6 total players on the watch lists of the two most prestigious individual awards in college football not named the Heisman. The Bednarik award is represented by Jonathan Allen, Eddie Jackson, Reuben Foster, and Tim Williams. All four of these men will be invaluable pieces of the Tide defense, and a strong showing this season could go a long ways for the individual awards of any of these four.
On offense, tight end O.J. Howard and receiver Calvin Ridley both made their way onto the Maxwell watch list. If the past few seasons under Lane Kiffin are any indication, Howard will once again be vastly underused, while Ridley is practically force-fed the ball throughout the season. Were I a betting man, I'd place all of my money on Ridley over Howard.
Have you ever wondered how college players get rated, thus making preseason all-star teams? Obviously, it is based in great part on how well they perceived the year before.
But it is not the same for all positions. Skill position players – quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, defensive backs, kickers – have statistics, and those can be compared.
Some of it has to do with team success. A good player at Alabama has a better chance of being an all-star pick than does one at a school that has had less success (which, basically, is all of them).
Roll Tide to that.
Be a good player on Alabama's squad, and you're practically guaranteed national individual recognition. Now THAT is a recruiting plug. The best part is how much the rest of the nation complains about Alabama players being overrated. Were I a high schooler again, I would much rather be overrated and at the top of the media boards than to be underrated and unknown.
The rest of the article goes on to say that Ross Pierschbacher was named to an all-star watch list for centers, despite never playing the position before. The kid had a heck of a first season at guard, and hopefully he'll be able to translate that to center. With a new QB and RB, Alabama will need him.
Will Fournette have his best game against Alabama? No. But it’s hard to imagine that he won’t play better than he did a year ago. And as good as Foster might be this coming season, it takes an entire defense to stop the Heisman Trophy contender. Alabama just isn’t the same defense without Robinson, Reed and Ragland up front. Foster might get at least one good lick on Fournette, but it will be Fournette who goes over 100 yards and has the better game.
First person to post the obligatory gif in the comments gets a free kudos point from yours truly. It's really worth a lot. I promise.
Seriously though, the media is determined that LSU's offense will be able to get past the Tide this year. Sure, Reed and Robinson are gone... But that just means Daron Payne and D'Shawn Hand will get more playing time (both 5-star offensive linemen with more versatility than their predecessors, mind you). And Reuben Foster, the human grenade launcher, will finally be at the center of the defense, poised to hit Fournette every time the man touches the ball. I'm excited.
The Scarbrough-Harris combination amassed just 261 total rushing yards a year ago. The only other time Alabama's top two returning rushers combined for less than 1,000 rushing yards in the previous season under Saban's watch was in his first year, when Jimmy Johns and Roy Upchurch combined for just 330 under former head coach Mike Shula in 2006.
On the other hand, this running back situation worries me. The 2007 year was not a good one for the Tide's rushing attack. Not at all. Obviously, things are a little different now, but there is still no experience there (or many options). Bo Scarbrough has the hype and looks the part, but has never done anything in college other than tear an ACL and truck a couple of lifeless Michigan State defenders. Damien Harris, on the other hand, looked absolutely atrocious in game-time as a true freshman before showing some promise this spring.
Behind these guys are a couple of true freshmen (still assuming B.J. Emmons qualifies) and a few walk-ons. That is not exactly confidence-inspiring.
On the bright side, the 2017 recruiting class already has the number one player in the nation, running back Najee Harris, committed, along with blue chip Tuscaloosa native Brian Robinson. Plus, Alabama is still very much in the mix for Cam Akers, Harris's chief competition for the nation's top running back.
Levi Randolph and JaMychal Green will suit up for the Memphis Grizzlies' Summer League squad. Green averaged 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds for the Grizzlies last season, while Randolph played for the Boston Celtics' D-League team. Randolph and Green will be joined by former Vanderbilt guard Wade Baldwin and former Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison.
JaMychal Green has a good shot of sticking with the Grizzlies after a solid last season. Randolph will be looking to really break into the NBA. He has the size, athleticism, and versatility to do it, he just has to find a way to stand out.
Similarly, recent graduate Retin Obasohan is looking to make his mark this summer with the Sacramento Kings. Obasohan is a special and unique player, but he will have to prove that he can channel his talents into becoming a productive basketball player despite no longer being the most athletic man on every court.