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8 Things to Love About Alabama: Julio Jones Signs With the Crimson Tide

The Foley native changed the Crimson Tide program for the better.

Capital One Bowl - Alabama v Michigan State
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The times when Alabama could finish no higher than third in the SEC West seems to be such a distant memory. In reality, it wasn’t that long ago. In 2006, the Crimson Tide finished in fourth place in the division with a 2-6 conference record and 6-7 overall. That was when Mal Moore filled up a Winnebago with cash and drove to South Beach intending on not returning to Tuscaloosa without Nick Saban in tow.

Clearly, Saban is the main reason that the Tide has returned to its rightful place in college football. But he had a little help. For all the criticism that Mike Shula got and still gets, he left a solid roster behind with the likes of Andre Smith, Javier Arenas, Rolando McClain, John Parker Wilson, Wallace Gilberry, Simeon Castille, Rashad Johnson, D.J. Hall, Antoine Caldwell, P.J. Fitzgerald, Jamie Christensen among others. To this team, Saban added players such as Kareem Jackson, Josh Chapman, Darius Hanks, and Marquis Maze. The Class of 2007 was twelfth best in the nation, yet contained no 5-stars, only eight 4-stars, and sixteen 3-stars. [SIDE NOTE: The top 4 that year were all teams who Saban made their asses quit: 1) Florida, 2) Southern Cal, 3) Texas, 4) Tennessee.]

After a 7-6 inaugural season in T-town, Saban knew there had to be a culture change at the Capstone. Not only did the program need better athletes, they needed better people. In his first full year of recruiting, the Crimson Tide coach turned his crosshairs to the fertile grounds of south Alabama - more specifically to Foley and one Quintorris Lopez “Julio” Jones (Yes, that is his given name. Wanna fight about it?). But it wasn’t going to be a slam dunk just because Julio lived in the Yellowhammer State. The Tide had lost ground in the area in recent years, and in fact Oklahoma was the early favorite to land the top wide receiver recruit. Florida and Florida State were hot on his trail as well.

On the morning of National Signing Day 2008, Jones still did not know where he would sign. However by the time he sat in his high school gym in front of his classmates, he knew it would be Alabama.

[Clearly by this point, ESPN had become accustom to me-first diva wide receivers. This four-letter network talking head was taken aback that Jones was not all about getting attention.]

Not only was Jones a 5-star, but he was in everyone’s top 3. The term “program changer” gets thrown around at times. Usually, it’s a quarterback. It could not be more apt then when Jones joined the Crimson Tide. He caught a touchdown in four of his first five college games, flashing an unusual blend of size and speed. He carried himself with class and composure, a personality that teammates and Tide players to come could easily emulate.

Jones proved to be a humble hard-worker who helped lead his team to the 2009 National Championship and a resurgence to national power that still holds today. Julio laid a foundation of excellence that paved the way to Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and on into the future.

[In a world of the all too prevalent diva, as long as his helmet fits Jones is ready to go. ]

Many consider the signing of Julio Jones to Alabama as the most important signing in program history - and rightly so. But the impact goes way beyond the football team. The Crimson Tide’s success under Nick Saban has brought prosperity to the University and it can be felt throughout the state.



Who is the greatest Alabama Wide Receiver of all time?

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