Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The first thing Alabama football fans do is worry. They worry about recruiting. They worry about who won’t be back next season. They worry about whether or not a couple kids sprayed themselves with some magical substance before the game against Neutered Dame. If Alabama fans weren’t worrying, then Alabama fans would be worried.
But an objective look at the Tide’s 2013 roster begs the question: could this be Saban’s most talented team ever? It’s a tall order, because Alabama has been ultra-talented for half a decade. But the 2013 edition has a chance to at least be in the conversation.
Despite heavy losses on the offensive line – not to mention Eddie Lacy, Dee Milliner, Jesse Williams and Nico Johnson, it’s possible that Alabama could have the best player in the country at six different positions. It’s ridiculous to suggest, but then again, is it, really?
Here’s a look at each.
Quarterback A.J. McCarron. Okay, so Johnny Football is coming back. But the best pro-style QB may reside in Tuscaloosa. All the guy did was have the highest QB rating in college as a junior with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 10:1. If he stays healthy in 2013 – and with the weapons he’ll have on hand – McCarron has a legitimate chance of being the first quarterback taken in the 2014 draft.
Left Tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. Speaking of keeping McCarron healthy, Alabama clearly has the best player in the country at this critical position. A sure-fire top ten pick in the 2014 draft, Kouandjio is a no-doubter as the best left tackle in college football.
Running back T.J. Yeldon. Many college football experts called Yeldon the best running back in the country last year. As a freshman. He may not be the clear-cut number one at his position, but then again, no one is better, either. He has a chance to break every Alabama rushing record, and he’ll very likely to it in only three seasons.
Wide Receiver Amari Cooper. Julio Jones is a freak. He steps on face masks and drags tacklers down the field until he’s through with them. But Cooper has better hands, runs better routes, and even gets better separation than Jones did at this stage of his career. His stats may or may not get him All-America status as a sophomore, but it doesn’t matter. No college receiver is better at his craft than Cooper.
Linebacker C.J. Mosely. Manti T’eo was supposedly the best linebacker in the nation. But in Miami he wasn’t even the best linebacker in the game; Mosely was. If he played at Notre Dame he’s be hailed as the greatest player who ever lived. Even better than Ron Powlus. At Alabama he’ll have to settle for being the best linebacker in the country in 2013.
Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. This is hardly a stretch, but it’s the biggest stretch on this list. Which oughta tell you how much potential the 2013 Alabama team has. He lived in the shadow of Mark Barron and Robert Lester for two seasons, but he had a breakout game in Miami, and is poised for an All-America season in 2013.
Alabama will have to rebuild its offensive line this season. But these six players, along with loads of talent up and down the roster at all positions, gives the next edition of the Crimson Tide a chance to be Saban’s most talented team yet.