Alabama Football: Preseason All-America lists say a lot

Alabama football is leading the way in preseason All-America teams, particularly in comparison with other Southeastern Conference schools.

Alabama football fans have reason to be excited over various preseason All-America lists. The Alabama Crimson Tide more than doubles the next closest SEC team, Georgia. Beyond the Tide and the Bulldogs, seven other SEC schools have players on AA lists.

Those seven schools, Missouri, LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M, Florida, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State have 12 players named on the three preseason AA lists we reviewed.

The three lists used for review are ESPNLindy’s, and Athlon. The selections are heavily skewed toward the Athlon picks because their list goes into four teams.

It should surprise no one Alabama football and Clemson dominate the lists. The Crimson Tide received selections for 11 players. The Clemson Tigers followed with eight.

Why these preseason lists matter

Certainly, players will rise and fall throughout the season. It is possible there will be players not included in even Athlon’s four-deep will explode and become first-team All-Americans after a great 2019 campaign.

It is also true a team needs a talent-deep roster to win a championship. One example jumps out to Alabama football fans. Last season’s national championship failure was less about a couple of Tua mistakes. Among other things, it was most about a complete inability to put any pressure on Trevor Lawrence. A deep Alabama football team was too depleted in edge rushers to penetrate the wall of protection afforded Lawrence.

So talent depth matters and it is impossible in advance to determine where all the talented depth will evolve on any particular team. So why pay attention to preseason AA lists? Because they are pretty good at identifying potential game-winning players.

The flip side of depth is multiple times in a season, a few plays, sometimes the result of exceptional individual performance, determine the outcome of games. A team with more game-winning players has greater odds to make enough of those plays to turn a 10 win season into a CFB Playoff berth.

In terms of SEC teams, the preseason AA lists indicate Alabama (11) and Georgia (5) have potentially the most players capable of making game-winning plays. Missouri is next (3), followed by LSU, Auburn and TAMU (2), then Florida, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State (1).

LSU has none on offense. Auburn has zero other than linemen. The one included for Mississippi State was a fourth-team choice from the Athlon list. The SEC picture painted is one of broad disparity in potentially, game-winning players.

The Crimson Tide players on the three lists are Tua Tagovailoa; Najee Harris; Jerry Jeudy; Jedrick Wills; Alex Leatherwood; Raekwon Davis; Dylan Moses; Terrell Lewis; Anfernee Jennings; Xavier McKinney and Jaylen Waddle. Alabama football fans can use the links above to see what players from other teams made the lists.

We will add five Crimson Tide players who did not but who are absolutely capable of game-winning plays: Henry Ruggs III; Devonta Smith; Shyheim Carter; Trevon Diggs and Patrick Surtain II.