Nick Saban may not care but Alabama football fans and some Alabama football players will notice some ommissions. Neither Jalen or Tua were chosen. Dylan Moses and Mack Wilson were not included. None of the young Alabama football wide receivers made it into a second team selection. Evidently, the SEC SIDs were not swayed by Tua being a top Heisman pick by some odds-makers.
Ho hum, yet another preseason poll, this one for an All-SEC team. But hey, it’s nice to see that one group of folks is not handing the title to Alabama before the season starts. There are getting to be fewer and fewer doubters out there as Saban and crew continue to pulverize a resigned acceptance into the entire nation.
Future QB ranking: 3
Future offense ranking: 4
Future defense ranking: 1
Scouting the Crimson Tide: Usually there’s some debate about the top spot, but not this year. Alabama comes off of its fifth national championship in the past nine seasons. Coach Nick Saban turns 67 on Halloween but has shown every intention of coaching for a while longer. The Tide’s defense, their signature unit, continues to stockpile talent and should feature arguably the nation’s best linebackers in 2018, complementing All-America candidate Raekwon Davis at defensive end.
”They just look different when you step on the field,” an opposing offensive coordinator said. While Alabama’s quarterback situation is drawing more attention than normal because of the unique dynamic, the outlook could be better than ever. Jalen Hurts is a proven winner, and Tua Tagovailoa gives Alabama a passing element it has lacked during this historic run. The only potential concerns, other than Saban retiring before 2020, are how a shuffled coaching staff will adjust this season, and whether there’s enough quarterback depth if and when one of the top contenders departs.
On the other hand, ESPN has officially been Processed, packaged, and distributed to your local Walmart. They practically fawn over their overlord, Nick Saban, at this point. Also, it’s good to see Raekwon continue to build national hype. Now he just has to live up to it.
79 OL Chris Owens
2017 season: Saw action in three games: Fresno State, Ole Miss and Mercer. Worked at left guard against the Bulldogs and Rebels before seeing time at center against the Bears. Recipient of the Commitment to Academic Excellence Award -- which goes to “the player who has demonstrated the greatest commitment and achievement in his academic endeavors during the previous year” -- at the 2017 team banquet.
2018 spring practice: Opened the A-Day game at left tackle for the Crimson (second-team) offense. Had his hands full while dealing with defensive end LaBryan Ray, who recorded four tackles for loss in the scrimmage. Hauled in a deflection off a pass breakup by Ray that resulted in a loss of six yards.
What he brings to the table: In his short time in the program, Owens has already worked at center, guard and tackle. The redshirt sophomore’s versatility provides flexibility within the depth chart. With guard/center types Dallas Warmack and Brandon Kennedy moving on to other programs, Owens might be more of a factor at one of the interior positions than tackle when fall camp gets underway in August. A January enrollee in 2016, Owens projects as a 2019 graduate, so not unreasonable to think he could follow a path similar to the one taken by Kennedy.
Chris Owens has been one of my favorite offensive line recruits of the last decade after I watched him in the Under Armour All-American game a couple of years ago. Truthfully, I had expected he’d be making more of a push to get into the starting lineup by now, but all in all he’s been fairly invisible in his first two years.... and looks to be again this year. He’s still got three seasons of eligibility though, so there’s plenty of time for him to make his mark.
Oklahoma has had a solid lead for years, but the gap has vanished over the last decade with Nick Saban at Alabama. If the preseason projections by magazines and other services are to be believed, the Crimson Tide finally could overtake the Sooners for the top spot in 2018.
This is just an adding up of final season rankings by the AP for each team. Ultimately, Oklahoma just barely edged out Alabama for the best all-time, with Ohio State rounding out third place before there is a major drop off to Michigan in a distant 4th. All in all, the Tide actually have twice as many #1 overall finishes as the Sooners, but lag behind in top-5 finishes.
The running back has shared the spotlight with Derrick Henry, Bo Scarbrough, and Kenyan Drake. Also, Damien will share the workload again with junior Joshua Jacobs and sophomores Najee Harris and Brian Robinson. All three substitutes would start on any team in the country.
Fans quickly forget that Harris was the number one running back in the country coming out of high school. During his sophomore season, he had 18 runs of 12 yards or more. Harris only carried the pigskin 135 times his junior year. Last season, his 7.4 yards-per-carry ranked seventh nationally.
Furthermore, if Damien handled the ball as much as Stanford’s Bryce Love (263) and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor (299), he would be the best back in the nation.
I will never pass up the opportunity to point out just how criminally underrated that Damien Harris has been the last two years. He’s on pace to hold the career rushing records at Alabama, despite the fact that he has had to split his carries with Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs, and Jalen Hurts over that time period. With Bo off to the NFL and a possible shift to a different QB looming, Harris has a better chance than ever to explode in 2018.