The second round of our quest to crown the greatest Alabama Crimson Tide football player of all time commences today. After a technical glitch screwed up our final pairing of the opening round, we’ve done an internal poll to wrap up the first round (see the updated bracket above). Now it’s time for you to vote on which player deserves to move into the quarterfinals.
Dwight Stephenson (1977-1979)
Center – Hampton, Va.
6’3”, 224 lbs
Perhaps the greatest pure center to every 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.
John Hannah (1970-1972)
Offensive Guard – Albertville, Ala.
6’3”, 273 lbs
Hailed as the “greatest lineman I ever coached” by former Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, Hannah was named All-American in both 1971 and in 1972, when he was a unanimous selection. Along with being named as an All-American, Hannah was also named All-SEC in those years and took home the Jacobs Trophy in 1972 as the best blocker in the SEC.
In those seasons, Hannah helped lead the way to two of the most potent rushing attacks in Alabama history when the Tide averaged 324.1 and 308.4 yards per game, respectively. They scored a team record 46 rushing touchdowns during the 1971 campaign.
There is little doubt that Hannah left his mark during his three-year career at The Capstone. Since his playing days in Tuscaloosa, Hannah has received a plethora of recognition for his time with the Crimson Tide that few others can match.
He is a member of the Alabama 1970s All-Decade Team as well as the All-Century Team. In 1989, ESPN named him to their all-time college football team, and in 1999, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.