Greatest Alabama football career No.14: DeMeco Ryans
A very talented linebacker, DeMeco Ryans starred at Alabama back in the early 2000s, spending most of his career under Mike Shula. He was an All-American and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, accomplishing quite a lot on that Crimson Tide defense and preparing himself for the next level.
That journey began as Ryans was selected early in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. He had starred at outside linebacker in college but became Houston’s starting middle linebacker as a rookie and held that position for half a decade.
Ryans won Defensive Rookie of the Year in a season where he led the NFL with 126 solo tackles. He was selected to a pair of Pro Bowls and was Houston’s full-time starter for six years, missing time in 2010 due to injury. He was the Texans’ leading tackler throughout his time in Houston.
In 2012, he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles and spent the final four seasons of his career there. His numbers weren’t quite the same but he was still a key part of the Eagles’ defense. He played in the playoffs for both franchises and accumulated 970 total tackles in his career.
Ryans was an excellent inside linebacker across a decade in the NFL. He transitioned into coaching soon after his retirement and was actually named the head coach of the Texans this past offseason, though that doesn’t factor into his inclusion today. He was an important tackling machine for two franchises, all while playing in the middle of the defense.