Jokes in the title aside, one of the most underratedly difficult parts of Saban’s job is keeping together a team with senior leadership when such a large chunk of his better players turn pro after three years. So anytime someone returns for their senior season (like Damien Harris last year), it’s basically a recruiting win.
There’s no question the soon-to-be senior, had he entered his name into the NFL Draft, would have been one of the more freakish athletes available in this year’s class. At 6-foot-7, 306 pounds, Davis is matchup nightmare that’s often drawn double teams in his time at the Capstone.
“I don’t go against too many people who have longer arms than I do,” Tide offensive tackle Jedrick Wills said of Davis earlier this year. “So, when I went up against him the first time -- the first time I went up against him I was at guard because playing at tackle you’re going up against the outside linebackers most of the time -- the first time he just reached out -- his arms are like three inches longer than mine; he just reached out and grabbed me and pulled me. It was kind of a shock. But, yeah, he’s a freak.”
Even though he suffered a season-ending injury in early October, Trevon Diggs was still considering leaving for the NFL, according to sources, but the cornerback met with coaches around the time of the Orange Bowl and announced Wednesday that he’ll be back for his senior season with the Crimson Tide.
Raekwon Davis and Trevon Diggs both returning for their senior seasons are a huge boon for the Tide. With Isaiah Buggs graduating and Quinnen Williams a likely top-5 draft pick this year, Davis will be the only returning starting defensive lineman. Diggs was also the starter in a fresh new secondary and looked to be the best of the lot through the first half of the season before having his season ending injury. The biggest uncertain decision left is that of safety Deionte Thompson. The redshirt junior was being looked at as a possible first round draft pick earlier this season, but tapered off as the season went on.
“For me, every game’s like that,” Miller told BamaOnLine in an exclusive interview. “It’s one less time I’ll be able to put on an Alabama uniform. I wouldn’t say it’s sad because it’s been an awesome journey, but every time I put it on, I’m kind of like, ‘Damn...’
“I’m one of those guys that takes pride in putting it on. I’ve never been one to try to rush things. I’ve always kind of embraced it, and my time’s slowly trickling down. It’s tough, but it makes you appreciate it more. That’s why I go into every game wanting to do as much as I can.”
On the other side of the coin, we will sorely miss the departing senior, Christian Miller. Though he never quite became the impact player that we thought he might as a high school recruit, he was a solid rotational backup for two seasons before earning a starting role. Unfortunately, he missed pretty much his entire first season as a starter due to injury and finally got his chance as a senior. He quickly became a team leader and an ambassador for the program to the media.
TCU: Gary Patterson is in the market for a quarterback after Shawn Robinson left for Missouri. Patterson and offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie have several QBs still on their roster, but they lack experience. TCU would be an intriguing landing spot for Hurts for a few reasons. It’s a chance to move home to Texas for his last season (he’s from the Houston area), and the Horned Frogs return nine offensive starters, including top receiver Jalen Reagor (72 catches for 1,061 yards) and have a balanced attack with seniors Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson leading the running game. The Frogs also had the No. 1 defense in the Big 12 this year. Plus, TCU has done well with transfer quarterbacks. Kenny Hill left Texas A&M to finish his career at TCU where he threw for more than 3,000 yards his junior and senior seasons. Maybe this team is just a good quarterback away from contending for a conference title?
It was made public yesterday that quarterback Jalen Hurts has entered his name into this newfangled “transfer portal”, so obviously everyone is now talking about where he might go (if he does). Sports Illustrated listed a few teams and broke down their fits in this piece. They, like everyone else, list Oklahoma as the frontrunner, but I highlighted the TCU blurb instead. It’s a little less talked about, and makes a lot of sense from an outsider’s perspective.
As long as he doesn’t go to Auburn or Tennessee, I will be cheering for him wherever he ends up (and even then I will cheer for his personal success amidst his team going 0-12).
As for redshirts, injured players like linebackers Terrell Lewis and Christopher Allen and corner Jalyn Armour-Davis never saw the field, so they can obviously gain another year of eligibility. Safety Daniel Wright played in four games before a suspension and should surgery, but with the new redshirt rule that allows players to appear in four games and still redshirt, he can do exactly that.
Sophomore tight end Major Tennison also played in four games, which means he can choose to redshirt this season and return next fall as a redshirt sophomore. There were six true freshmen that did this, as well, appearing in at least one game but no more than four. Those players were Stephon Wynn, Emil Ekiyor, Cameron Latu, Xavier Williams, Jerome Ford and Slade Bolden.
Scholarship freshmen that did not play in a single game this fall include Armour-Davis, Tommy Brown, Christian Barmore, Michael Parker, Jarez Parks and Layne Hatcher, bringing the total number of players that can redshirt to 16 with freshmen making up 12 of that redshirt eligibility. Older players that did not see the field but have already redshirted were Elliot Baker, Hunter Brannon and Kendall Randolph.
Thanks to 247 for actually going back and counting these things so that I didn’t have to. To me, the oddest of all of these was that Jarez Parks never played in a single game. Especially with both Terrell Lewis and Chris Allen going down before the season even started.