Alabama football success is more than just ‘blue-chippers’

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 16: Robert Foster /

Season after season, Alabama football recruits the most, highly rated players. But Alabama football is more than blue-chippers.

Alabama football does not exist in a vacuum. As much as Nick Saban tries to insulate his team from external factors, those factors exist and they impact players. To a degree, today’s American society is an instant gratification society. Sociologists call it a ‘microwave’ society.

It could be described as ‘I want mine and I want it now.’ Fans and most players may disagree with this assessment, but most college football coaches will agree.

Thursday night on Hey Coach, Saban was asked about the impact of Robert Foster. Struggling through injuries and down the depth chart, Foster almost left Alabama football last winter. Saban used Robert as an example of a player who stuck it out when others do not. Nick said,

"Players sometimes come to me wondering why they aren’t playing. Then I ask them, who are you better than and they can’t tell me."

Fortunately for Alabama football in 2017, Robert Foster decided he did not want to be a quitter. On Thursday night, Saban acknowledged Robert has explosive skills and could play a major role in the 2017 offense.

If a player cannot beat out those ahead of him, he must bide his time and more importantly, work hard to improve. The 2017 Alabama football team is fortunate to have more than a few players who were not high school ‘blue-chippers,’ who have worked hard and waited their turn.

Anthony Averett is one who had to wait his turn at cornerback. Averett did not get much playing time until 2016, his redshirt junior season. Some NFL draft projections have him going first round in 2018. The Washington Post published interview comments from Anthony earlier this season.

"“Everybody has a story. When you first come here, everybody doesn’t get to play right away, I was one of those guys that didn’t. I think it plays out. I’m not the only one.There’s a lot of us that really went through that same process like me. I think it’s very important. It shows maturity. So I think that’s very important to have that bunch on the squad.”"

Others have seen the ‘waiting and working’ philosophy come to fruition. Check out this list, compiled by Ben Jones of

  • Right tackle Matt Womack was the lowest ranked recruit in the 2015 Signing Class.
  • Running back Josh Jacobs was the No. 471 rated player in the 2016 recruiting class.
  • Linebacker Keith Holcombe was the 21st ranked player in the Alabama 2014 Signing Class.
  • Outside linebacker, Jamey Mosley and cornerback Levi Wallace were walk-ons.

Holcombe had this to say in the Ben Jones story.

"“It’s like the backbone of the team, you have guys like Anthony and Jamey, guys who just keep their head down and keep grinding and keep pounding and keep working hard and getting better. That’s what you want, because they’re all giving it for the team. That’s how we want to be remembered.”"

No player typifies this attitude more than Levi Wallace and his dream to play for the Crimson Tide. Coming out of Tuscon, Arizona, Levi had no college offers from FBS or FCS schools. Due largely to his father’s affinity for Alabama football, Levi walked on in Tuscaloosa.

After three seasons waiting and working, Levi earned a starter role this season. Through three games he is the highest-rated performer in a very good Alabama football secondary. What does Levi have to say about finally making the Tide starting lineup?

"“I’ve always believed in my abilities, but you know, Coach Saban does a great job of developing players, walk-ons and five-stars as well.”"

Borrowing a theme from Keith Holcombe, that is how fans should want a team to be remembered. Defined by hard work, patience, determination and led by a coach who has no favorites, and asks players “who are you better than.” Our hats are off to those who when they cannot answer, go back to work, until the answer is so obvious, the question does not need to be asked.

Next: 30 Great Tide Players who were 3-Star Recruits

ICYMI, check out this story 2018 Season, Playoffs or Bust. All of us at Bama Hammer try to keep Alabama football fans apprised of worthwhile information, presented through our passion for the Crimson Tide.