Our quest to crown the greatest Alabama Crimson Tide football player of all time kicks into high gear with the conclusion of our second-round matchups today. Who goes to the Elite 8? It’s up to you.
Saban Division – Running Backs vs. Linebackers
Johnny Musso (1969-1971)
Running Back – Birmingham, AL.
6’0”, 205 lbs
Career Statistics: 2741 Rushing Yards, 34 TDs
Johnny Musso, also known as the “Italian Stallion”, was one of the best running backs of his period, and one of the best in Alabama history as well. He led the Southeastern Conference in rushing in 1970 and 1971, gaining 1,137 and 1,088 yards, respectively. Musso currently is ranked sixthall-time in rushing yards and fourth in rushing touchdowns for Alabama.
Musso was named First Team All-America as a junior in 1970, and was a Consensus All-American his senior year in 1971. He was awarded the American Football Coaches Association Ernie Davis Award in 1972. He also finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 1971. Musso won the Player of the Year Award from Football News, the Touchdown Club of Atlanta, and the Miami Touchdown Club.
Johnny was named Academic All-Conference three times, and was honored as a National Football Foundation National Scholar Athlete. Musso initially played for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football league for three years. He was eventually drafted 62nd overall by the Chicago Bears in the 1972 NFL Draft in the third round, and played for three years. Johnny Musso was and still is one of the all-time fan favorites in Alabama history, and considered one of the toughest players to come through the Capstone.
Derrick Thomas (1985-1988)
6’ 3’’ 255 lbs
Linebacker – Miami, Florida
Career Statistics: 52 Sacks, 74 Tackles for loss
Derrick Thomas is generally considered to be the finest defensive player in the history of Alabama football. He holds numerous Alabama defensive records, including one which will perhaps never be broken. Thomas recorded an astounding 52 sacks in his entire career playing at the Capstone. No other Crimson Tide player has ever come close.
He also holds Alabama records for sacks in a season (27), blocked kicks in a game (2), and in his career (5), sacks in a game (5), tackles for loss in a game (7), in a season (39), and in a career (74), quarterback hurries in a game (9), and in a season (44), forced fumbles in a season (7), and in a career (10). He won the Butkus Award in 1988 as the nation’s top linebacker and finished 10th in the Heisman voting.
Derrick was a unanimous All-America selection in 1988. He was drafted fourth overall in the 1989 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, where he won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. His career and life were tragically cut short after a car accident on February 8, 2000. He is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Simply put, Derrick Thomas is the benchmark of defensive excellence at Alabama, and his impact on the university and the game of football is second to none.
Which player advances to the next round?
- Derrick Thomas (84%, 38 Votes)
- Johnny Musso (16%, 7 Votes)
Total Voters: 45