We’re into the final first-round matchups in our tournament to name the greatest Alabama Crimson Tide football player in history. Today’s matchup is the final pairing in the Stallings division, so get your votes in now.
Stallings Division – Def. Line vs. Off. Line
Eric Curry (1990-1992)
Defensive End – Thomasville, Ga.
6’6”, 265 lbs
Career Statistics: 114 tackles (40.5 for loss), 22.5 sacks, 51 quarterback hurries
Along with fellow defensive end John Copeland, Eric Curry made up one half of possibly the greatest defensive end tandem in college football history.
In three seasons at Alabama, Curry finished with a career record of 31-6, including a 13-0 season in 1992 when he helped lead the Crimson Tide to a national championship victory over the Miami Hurricanes in the Sugar Bowl as well as a win in the first-ever SEC Championship.
Curry had his best season in 1992 when he finished the year with 10.5 sacks (including four in one game against Southern Miss), tying him for fourth all-time in the Alabama record book for sacks in a season along with Copeland, who also had 10.5 sacks in 1992. His 27 quarterback hurries rank him third all-time for a season in Tide history.
For his on the field success, Curry won numerous honors and awards that season. The consensus All-SEC and unanimous All-American pick was recognized as the Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year, UPI Lineman of the Year and the Pigskin Club of Washington Lineman of the Year. He was also named a Lombardi Award finalist and finished tenth in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
The No. 1-ranked Tide defense allowed only 660 total yards on the ground, including only 55.0 rushing yards per game and 1.67 rushing yards per play in 1992. As a defense, they gave up just 3.21 yards per play.
Dwight Stephenson (1977-1979)
Center – Hampton, Va.
6’3”, 224 lbs
Perhaps the greatest pure center to ever play for the Crimson Tide, Dwight Stephenson finished his three-year Alabama career with at least 11 wins and an SEC title every year. He finished his career record with a record of 32-4 and a Sugar Bowl victory in each season, which included national championship victories in 1978 and 1979.
Stephenson was named All-SEC and All-American in his senior year in 1979. He also won the Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club’s Outstanding Lineman Award and the Jacobs Trophy given to the SEC’s best blocker.
During Stephenson’s three-year run, the Tide was particularly stout on the offensive side of the ball, ranking high in several statistical categories in those years. But it was during the 1979 championship season that the Alabama offense really stood out. As a starter on the offensive line, the Tide ran 875 offensive plays, resulting in 4,715 yards, 45 touchdowns scored and a 31.9 points per game average (383 total points scored). The Tide also only punted the ball 43 times all season and accumulated just 340 penalty yards – good for third and fifth all-time in the Alabama record book, respectively.
In the run game that year, the Tide ran the ball 763 times out of 875 total offensive plays giving them 3,792 for the season with a 344.7 rushing yards per game average – both second all-time in team history. They rank fifth in team history in rushing touchdowns scored with 38 and first in rushing first downs with 213.
Stephenson is a member the Quarter Century All-SEC Team (1961-1985) as well as Alabama’s 1970s team of the decade and the Tide’s Team of the Century.