With Alabama football season quickly approaching, we take a look at the five most dangerous players for the season. That is if you are a fan of the enemies.
Once again Alabama football came out on top with the number one recruiting class in the nation in 2016. Saban has a knack for stacking his team for years to come, but I guess his trophy case proves his motives are all successful ones. The 2016 season will be an interesting one, with no set quarterback and a team that lost several seniors and players to the NFL Draft.
However, there are still several reasons why no one should make the mistake of doubting the Crimson Tide again or consider Alabama to lose four more games after one loss. If Saban and his 2015 team can go on to win the National Championship after a “season-ending loss to Ole Miss” then why shouldn’t this 2016 team be able to do the same?
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Five key players come to mind with the new season only 59 days away. These five are nothing short of incredible at what they do. In fact, I would be so bold to say that they might be the most dangerous, effective players on the team individually. I’ll break them down one by one, and explain how the Tide will dominate the Southeastern Conference with these five athletes that have stepped out for this upcoming season.
First and foremost, CALVIN RIDLEY.
Ridley, entering his sophomore season, is a mirror image of Amari Cooper. What Lane Kiffin has been able to do with him on offense has transformed Alabama in a new style of play. In his freshman season, he racked up 89 receptions, earned 1,045 yards, and collected seven touchdowns. What is to be expected in just his sophomore season?
Ridley is extremely fast, but that’s not the dangerous part about him. He is quick, and by quick I mean he knows when to make cuts, when to hesitate, and when to push harder. He sees the defense and adjusts naturally and quickly. Even when Ridley is matched with a safety that can keep up, he still manages to make the play. I believe that he will be a huge playmaker in this upcoming season.
Second, EDDIE JACKSON.
Jackson was a previous cornerback who has now moved into the safety position. I think his sophomore season spoke for itself. Coming away with six interceptions for a total of 230 yards, and scoring two touchdowns on defense is a phenomenal way to end a national championship season. Saban had to have smiled at least six times in 2015 for the picks that Jackson collected.
It almost became a regular occurrence that Jackson was going to get an interception a game. The dangerous quality that I find in him is that he intimidates the offense. The worst thing to happen to a quarterback is letting the safeties get inside your head and take your receivers away. The Texas A&M game is the best example. Not one, but two picks by two separate quarterbacks, and taking one home for a touchdown. Quarterbacks have to be exceptionally careful before throwing in his area.
Third, REUBEN FOSTER.
Foster, an uprising junior last season, has certainly set the tone of the defense for the new season. His enormous, smash mouth hits from 2015 are only expected to be bigger and better this year. With Reggie Ragland gone, Foster has to step up at the linebacker position and lead this team. Alabama has always been a defensive fortress, but this season will test its strength and fortitude.
Just last season, Foster had a total of 48 solo tackles. With that being said, the surprising factor is that his highest amount of solo tackles came from the Clemson game. He had eight solo tackles against the best offense in the nation at the time. Tell me that is not dangerous, tell me that doesn’t make you wonder how much this linebacker can do when the pressure is on. I expect to see a great season from him this year.
Fourth, TIM WILLIAMS.
Williams is one of those players that you just get excited when you see them. Although he doesn’t carry the highest record of solo or assisted tackles, he does make a name for himself on this Crimson Tide’s defense.
He only managed 13 solo tackles in the 2015 season, but he had nine solo sacks. NINE. If he had one job on this team, and it was to get a sack each game, I guarantee you that he could and would make that happen. Offenses cannot make the mistake of letting Williams get by. Otherwise, there will be no stopping him. Let’s keep count of his sacks this season because there is bound to be at least one, right?
Fifth and final, O.J. HOWARD.
There is not much to say other than “Cotton Bowl and National Championship” when talking about Howard. I mean, what an outstanding performance for an under the radar player. This past season he received the ball 65 times, for a total of 602 yards. Nowhere near the amount of Ridley. It seemed like Kiffin forgot about having this talented tight end out there for a while during the season.
But, when it came down to making the plays when they needed to be made, he did his job. Howard only found the end zone twice this past season. Both touchdowns were in the Clemson game. How phenomenal is that, to say that you never saw the end zone till the final game of the season, and you were 12 points of the win. You don’t always have to have the ball to make the plays, and that is exactly what he did, he made himself available to make the plays. That’s dangerously good football.
There it is, the top five most dangerous players, in my opinion, of the upcoming season. Alabama is never out of the count, and just because they stand as the current title holders does not mean the work is over.
Like the quote says, “getting to the top is easy, staying on top is hard.” No worries, though, Saban and the Crimson Tide have much to prove in the 2016 season.