clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vote for the RBR All-Saban Team: Nose Tackles

From 2009 onward, this position has been the true lifeblood of the Alabama defense

rocky block

After finishing up the admittedly star-studded offense, we’re now moving on to the All-Saban defense, which looks to be even more impressive than the offensive squad.

The rules are fairly simple here, but also they absolutely will not be totally consistent. I’m making them up as we go and each position will be handled differently. I will choose the top candidates for spots on the All-Saban team, and different members of the RBR staff will present their argument to you as to why his player should be considered over the others. There is no criteria on the type of argument, so anything from stats, to important plays, to NFL performance is fair game.

While the defensive line has been rather fluid, with defensive ends and tackles often being interchangeable between base and nickel defenses, the nose tackle has tended to be a somewhat distinct position: the biggest guy that’s almost always in the middle.

In this case, A’Shawn Robinson will seem to be a glaring omission. However, he’s a guy that moved to defensive end for his best season, so I’ll be putting him in that list, rather than as a true nose tackle.

For this poll, I’m going to post the same candidates in back-to-back polls. For the first one, pick who you think should be first-team, and for the second pick who you think should be second team. Simple enough?

DrWhosOnFirst on Quinnen Williams:

We unfortunately didn’t see enough of Quinnen Williams.

The 300lb bar of soap came to Tuscaloosa as a 4 star recruit (after originally committing to Auburn). He redshirted as a true freshman in 2016 but drew rave reviews for his work on the scout team.

Williams looked solid during the offseason. With upperclassmen like Daron Payne and Da’Shawn Hand and Raekwon Davis’s great play, Williams was unable to earn a starting job in 2017; but he established himself in the rotation. He wound up recording 20 tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss (good for fourth on the team despite being a back-up), and 2 sacks.

After the 2017 season, nose tackle Daron Payne left for the NFL; and Alabama had a big hole in its defensive line. So of course the staff decided to try Williams, who weighed in the 275lb range (he initially weighed around 250lbs as a true freshman, at nose tackle. Williams gained around 20lbs during the offseason and proceeded to lock down the position traditionally held by bulkier players.

Williams was a beast from his first game as a starter. In the opener against Louisville, he notched 6 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss and was named SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week. And he just kept dominating from there. After eight games, Williams had been named defensive player of the week by the coaching staff six times.

By the end of the season, Williams easily led the team in tackles for loss with 19.5 (he was tied for fourth in overall tackles). His TFL total was second in the SEC (Josh Allen, an edge rusher, managed two more than Williams), and it was the ninth-best total in school history. Williams was also dominant in both the run and pass game. He recorded 8 sacks (with some complex math, we’re able to see that means 11.5 of his TFL came on runs), which was third on the team.

Just watch how he abuses some of these Tennessee offensive linemen. Or Mississippi State offensive linemen.

Williams was a unanimous first team All-American. Throughout the year, he earned numerous defensive player of the week or defensive lineman of the week honors (from the SEC, from the Bednarik Award, from the FWAA). Williams also won the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s top interior linemen (offensive or defensive); and he was a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy and the Bednarik Award.

Williams declared for the NFL draft and was the #3 overall selection.

BamaBrave4 on Da’Ron Payne

Before I get started on why Daron Payne should be a no-brainer for the All-Saban team, just think about this: Payne was so good that he both bumped A’Shawn Robinson over to Defensive End when he arrived, and held off Quinnen Williams for the starting job when Quinnen made it to Tuscaloosa.

Payne was a three-year starter at the all-important position of Nose Tackle in Saban’s 3-4 defense. That’s pretty incredible by itself, really. A Freshman All-American in 2015, Payne excelled in the critical roles of taking on double teams, clogging-up holes in the interior run game, and collapsing the pocket and preventing quarterbacks from being able to step into throws. Which made life much easier for the rest of Alabama’s historically elite 2015-2016 defenses. Because of this, Alabama was able to win both the SEC and National Championship his freshman year. In 2016, the Tide repeated as SEC Champs, and came a play short of repeating as National Champs, in large part because of Payne’s excellence in the front seven.

But it was his junior year in 2017 that really writ his name in Crimson flame. With a large chunk of the guys who made up those historic 2015-2016 defenses off to the NFL, Payne really had to step-up and become the star on the defensive front for Alabama. And he did exactly that. Payne totaled a career best 53 tackles en route to his First-Team All-SEC selection, as Alabama, once again, made the College Football Playoffs. That’s when Payne became an Alabama legend. He was such a dominant force in both the Sugar Bowl semifinals and the National Championship Game itself, that he, a nose tackle, was named Co-MVP of both games. It certainly didn’t hurt that he got to show off his incredible athleticism with a toe-tapping TD against the Tigers in the semis:

His Alabama career ended with a pair of SEC and National Championships. He was drafted 13th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, where he instantly became a starting DT right next to Jonathan Allen with the Washington Redskins. He was named to the 2018 Football Writers’ All-Rookie team, and has become an anchor on a line that looks to be one of the best in the league in 2020. Alabama’s had some incredible players on the interior of the defensive line over the years, but Payne should be on this roster.

Roger on Terrance Cody:

I can win this contest in two words for Mount Cody, here they are : Rocky Block

Seriously though:

Terrance Cody, Mount Cody. The man in the middle. Two time All SEC and two time All American. At 6’4” and pushing 400 pounds he plugged the middle like no one else.

Cody came to Alabama after two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, and immediately filled a need. The 2008 Alabama defense allowed 129 yards rushing per game. With Cody at nose guard in 2009 that number fell to 78 yards per game.

However, if had done nothing else, Cody’s name will forever be writ in Crimson Flame for Rocky Block. The big man in the middle blocked two field goals in the Tide’s 12-10 victory over Tennessee in 2009, including a possible winning kick as time expired. The big guys big play paved the way for the teams first national championship since 1992. For this reason alone, Terrance Cody deserves your vote! Roll Tide

Josh on Josh Chapman

Josh Chapman is a throwback nose man who anchored the best defense in college football history, just as spread offenses were beginning to take over and change the game. Chapman’s assignment was simple, but difficult: anchor the middle, don’t get moved, and eat up multiple blockers. While teammates like Marcell Dareus, Courtney Upshaw and Dont’a Hightower got all the press for cleaning things up, it was the massive 340-lb. (plus a few biscuits) Chapman that allowed it all to happen.

After the 2011 season where Chapman clogged the middle for a defense that allowed only 2.4 yards per rush, it was revealed that he had played the bulk of the season with a torn ACL Folks, that is the toughness that you want in a nose tackle. Chapman was voted second team All-SEC for his efforts in 2011 and left with two national championship rings. When considering the era in which he played, there was no better nose tackle than Josh Chapman.

Brent on Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams, the Big Aussie, Tha Monstar, was a rubgy and basketball player until he was already in high school when he picked up football. He moved to the U.S. to play football for a JUCO in Arizona. He became the very first native Australian to receive a scholarship to play football in America and quickly became a fan favorite at Alabama for his personality in interviews, his variety of funny tattoos, and the viral video of him bench pressing 600 pounds.

Williams was the anchor of the defensive line in the back-to-back championship seasons of 2011 and 2012, with that 2011 defense being one of the best of all time in college football. He was named to multiple iterations of All-SEC and All-American teams over his two seasons as a starter and after an NFL combine performance of running a sub 5.0 forty yard dash to go along with his already legendary bench press, was projected to be a likely first-round pick.

Until the teams found out about a degenerative knee condition, that was. After that, he plummetted down the draft to the fifth round before being picked up by the Seattle Seahawks. He missed his entire rookie year due to the knee injury, but wound up becoming an energetic team leader for the Seahawks during offseason work. An ACL injury ended his second season in training camp, but, again, he rehabbed and became an offseason leader for the starting defensive tackle spot until he was diagnosed with cancer and retired.



Who should be the first-team All-Saban nose tackle?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Jesse Williams
    (10 votes)
  • 19%
    Terrance Cody
    (86 votes)
  • 42%
    Da’Ron Payne
    (191 votes)
  • 35%
    Quinnen Williams
    (159 votes)
  • 1%
    Josh Chapman
    (5 votes)
451 votes total Vote Now


Who should be the second team All-Saban nose tackle?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Jesse Williams
    (18 votes)
  • 18%
    Terrance Cody
    (75 votes)
  • 29%
    Da’Ron Payne
    (123 votes)
  • 46%
    Quinnen Williams
    (191 votes)
  • 1%
    Josh Chapman
    (7 votes)
414 votes total Vote Now