Alabama Football: Hats off to eight long haul Tide players

Kyle Robertson-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Robertson-USA TODAY Sports /

As Alabama Football progresses toward another fall camp, seven Crimson Tide players are doing it in Tuscaloosa for the fifth time. One more is seeing a sixth offseason wind down.

These eight Alabama Football players are part of an ever-diminishing category of Power Five players. The options for not ‘sticking’ with the same program for a college career have exploded. It has become common to play for two or three teams – even sometimes four – in a college career.

There are good reasons to pack up and move on from an original college destination. Moving up to the NFL is one. Seeking more playing time in a new program is another. Family issues that draw players closer to home can be a legitimate factor. Though ‘family issues’ were also used as an excuse; before the NCAA granted immediate eligibility. For some players, opting to drop down to a Group of Five team or to the FCS level is a better fit for their talents.

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The Alabama Football players who chose to stick and passed on the above alternatives deserve to be acknowledged. The acknowledgment does not suggest players who exit are making a bad choice.  Is it easier to choose to leave, than it is to stay? Probably, but certainly not always.

Eight Alabama Football Players to Congratulate

  • Super Senior Chris Owens – Owens is the six-season player mentioned above. He came to the Crimson Tide in 2016 and redshirted that season. The NCAA-granted COVID exception gave him a fifth season to compete in games. Owens is expected to start at center against Miami. It will be his 39th Crimson Tide game.
  • Super Senior Brian Robinson Jr. – B-Rob chose a tough path coming out of high school. He chose to not leave Tuscaloosa for programs that would offer more immediate playing time. In four playing seasons (no redshirts) Robinson has participated in 52 games and rushed 1,361 yards.
  • Redshirt Senior Major Tennison – Tennison joined the Tide in the 2017 season and played as a freshman. Seeing limited play as a sophomore in 2018, he was redshirted at the end of the season. He has played in 34 Alabama games.
  • Redshirt Senior Kendall Randolph – Kendall was redshirted in 2017 and saw no action in 2018. As a jumbo tight end and offensive lineman, Kendall played in 26 games in the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
  • Redshirt Senior Phidarian Mathis – Mathis redshirted in 2017. He played in 40 games in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons. His strong performance in the 2020 season made leaving for the NFL a possible choice, but he delayed that dream for another season with the Crimson Tide.
  • Redshirt Senior – Chris Allen – Allen played in seven, 2017 games as a freshman. He missed the entire 2018 season due to injury and was given a medical redshirt. A solid performer in the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Allen could have made a move to the NFL. He and Mathis returning was a major boost to the Tide defense.
  • Redshirt Senior – Daniel Wright – As a special teams player, Wright saw action in 14 games as a 2017 freshman. An injury curtailed his sophomore season and he was given a medical redshirt. He played in 13 games in each of the last two seasons.
  • Redshirt Junior LaBryan Ray – The former 5-Star recruit has had an injury-hampered Crimson Tide career. As a freshman in 2017 he played in six games, followed by a solid sophomore season and 15 games in 2018. He redshirted in 2019, appearing in only three games. Last season, he returned from injury to play in eight games.

Another six-season guy will play in the SEC this season. He is former 5-Star (and Crimson Tide target) Demetris Robinson. Robinson is expected to finish his college football career in Auburn, after three seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs and two seasons with the Cal Bears.

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The hat-tip given to the eight Crimson Tiders could be shared with other lesser-known Alabama players. Some of them have stuck around for years with little or no chance to ever enter a game.