Our quest to crown the greatest Alabama Crimson Tide player of all time rounds third and heads for home this week. We begin this week with a good one, so get yours votes in now.
Saban Division – Running Backs vs. Linebackers
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.
Cornelius Bennett (1983-1986)
6’3’’ 240 lbs
Linebacker – Birmingham, Alabama
Stats: 287 Tackles, 21 ½ Sacks, 2 Fumble Recoveries
Cornelius Bennett was one of the fiercest and talented defensive players in Alabama history. He is one of two Crimson Tide players to ever be selected to three All-America teams in his career (the other being Woodrow Lowe). He was selected as the SEC Defensive player of the year in 1986, and also won the Lombardi Award, the only Alabama player at the time to ever win the award.
Perhaps what Bennett is most remembered for by Crimson Tide fans is his bone-crushing hit on Notre Dame’s quarterback Steve Beuerlein, a hit that is still seen in pre-game clips at Bryant-Denny, and in the famous Daniel Moore painting entitled “The Sack.” Bennett was selected as an Alabama All-Decade member, and he was also named to Alabama’s Team of the Century in 1992.
Cornelius Bennett was selected with the second overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. In 2005, he was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in Southbend, Indiana. While his hit on Beuerlein resonates as one of the greatest single plays in Alabama history, Bennett is remembered more for his overall impact on the game, and indeed one of the finest defensive players to ever play college football.
Which player advances to the next round?
- Cornelius Bennett (12%, 10 Votes)
- Derrick Thomas (88%, 72 Votes)
Total Voters: 82