Alabama Football: Three Tide players who especially deserve respect

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

Saturday will be a big day for many Alabama football players. The second and last scrimmage of fall camp is always important. While performing well on Saturday is essential for every player, some have more riding on their performance than others.

After Saturday, practice reps below the two-deep will be reduced. Some first-unit roles will remain unsettled after Saturday, but a strong scrimmage or a less than strong performance can be pivotal.

The next milestone for players and Alabama football fans will be on Aug. 29, when Nick Saban allows public view of the Tide’s depth chart. As Alabama Football always is under Saban, the depth chart will be a work in progress. The most fluidity will be indicated by ‘or’ distinctions at some positions, showing competition will continue for those players.

Nick Saban thinks those outside the team, as in media and fans, make too much about depth charts. He is right that we do. But fans are equally right when passionately following a team and seeking all possible information.

Alabama Football Passion

Those passions sometimes cause us to ignore important things. Whatever happens with starters at left guard and Will linebacker, there are three Alabama football players all of us should enthusiastically root for this season. Not necessarily for what they have done or will do on the football field, but because they have chosen a level of determination and commitment each one could have more easily discarded.

The three guys are Kendall Randolph, Jaylen Moody and Javion Cohen. Cohen’s experience has been different than the other two. As a settled-in starter at left guard last season, he performed well enough, some 2023 Mock Drafts had him as a late first-round or second-round NFL Draft selection.

Early in the summer, it was learned Cohen was dealing with a mental health issue. He spent weeks away from the team seeking help. As reported by Alex Scarborough of ESPN, Cohen talked about his problem,

"[T]he pressure we feel as athletes is insurmountable and can be too much at times. [I] don’t want to focus on the bad though, [I] want to shed light on the good that has come of this……it’s okay to not be okay but it is not okay to not say you’re not okay.[B]eing vulnerable does not make you weak, it actually shows how strong you are."

Cohen has been given strong support by Nick Saban and the Alabama program. Now he is trying to win his old job back. In the first scrimmage, another guy deserving of admiration, Kendall Randolph got most of the snaps at left guard.

Randolph joined the Crimson Tide in 2017. Except as an extra blocker at tight end, he has never latched on to a starting role. Most importantly, he never came close to giving up.

The third player has never given up either, though at the end of the 2021 season, for a short while he considered transferring. Jaylen Moody was a 3-Star recruit, added late to the Tide’s 2018 class. In his fifth Crimson Tide season, he is close to earning the starting Will linebacker job.

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Before the season begins, let’s take a pause and wish these three young men well, on and off the football field.