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25 Days ‘Til Alabama Football: Remembering DeMeco Ryans and the ole Inside Trout

Blast from the past with these two greats

NCAA Football - AT&T Cotton Bowl - Texas Tech vs Alabama - January 2, 2006 Photo by G. N. Lowrance/Getty Images

It takes a lot to unseat former Alabama-great Wayne Davis. Davis, recruited by Bryant but playing under Ray Perkins, set the standard for wrapping up and putting guys on the turf. When his career ended in 1985, he had set the Alabama mark for tackles (327) and tackles in one game (24.) The equally legendary Woodrow Lowe held and still holds the record for tackles in a season (134.)

Still, All-American DeMeco Ryans spent four years trying to knock those men out of the memory of long-time Tide fans. One of the smartest, most instinctual middle linebackers to ever suit up for the Tide, he was especially hell on opposing running games. He finished his career with 309 tackles (5th in Alabama history,) had the Tide’s second all-time most tackles in a season (124,) and, in 2003, he set the Alabama Crimson Tide record for tackles in a game, where he tallied a machine-like 25 stops in 81 Arkansas snaps.

And they weren’t form tackles either -- Ryans was a hitter.

The defensive stalwart on some bad Alabama teams, Ryans was the heart and soul of a vicious 2005 defense that led the nation in scoring defense (10.7 PPG) in Coach Joe Kines funky 3-3-5.

C’mon, you knew this was coming:

That year, Ryans would win the Lott Award, be a finalist for the Butkus and Nagurksi awards. He would be named team captain, unanimous All-American, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and make First-Team All-SEC. Being a ‘tweener hurt his draft stock somewhat -- he was drafted in the second round by the Houston Texans. It didn’t hurt his play, however.

Ryans was excellent in the pros. He made the Pro Bowl twice, was an All-Pro once, was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, and had a nice 10-year career. Just as recently as 2013, Ryans had the most tackles by a Philadelphia Eagles player in two decades. He has now entered coaching with the San Francisco 49ers where he is again, predictably, turning heads.

Besides knocking Chris Leak back into his mother’s womb, what Ryans will always be remembered for is that afternoon against Arkansas in a 2-OT heartbreaker.

As for Coach Kines?

He coached Texas A&M’s defenses in 2008 and 2009, before hanging them up and hitting the lake for some well-deserved fishing. No word on whether he ever got that inside trout.

25 days ‘til Alabama football.

Roll Tide