Satisfy the supreme All-Saban group, the very best who bet

  • Ryan McGee,

    • ESPN Senior WriterJan 11, 2024, 03:35 PM ET Close Senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and
    • 2-time Sports Emmy winner
    • 2010, 2014 NMPA Writer of the Year

Editor’s note: A version of this story initially ran Jan. 14, 2021. It has been updated and republished after the news that Nick Saban will retire.When you have

coached as long as Nick Saban (28 seasons as a head coach), won as many games (292 ), national championships (7) and conference titles (12 ), and pumped as many dudes into the NFL draft (49 first-rounders and counting), then think what? You get your own all-star team!After Saban

won his record seventh nationwide title in January 2021, we read statistics, scrolling through film and plaguing sports information directors to figure out the greatest college football player at each position to have hung out betting and being yelled at by St. Nicholas, tutelary saint of angrily inflamed forehead capillary. The assortment of candidates for this group is so ridiculously skilled that the list of those who didn’t make it may still be much better than any other coach’s first-team lineup. Then, when we upgraded the list following Saban’s retirement, the job of narrowing it down was just more difficult, as we had to cut some of the legends who made the preliminary cut three years ago.So who made it in? Read ahead, as we present our updated post-retirement All-Saban group. Honorees will be awarded a prize shaped like a straw sun hat, turned upside down and filled with Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies.Offense Nick Saban had many excellent quarterbacks, but Bryce Young tops the list. Picture by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images QB: Bryce Young Here’s our first big modification from the 2021 list, as Young replaces initial beginning quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Tua remains perhaps the most exhilarating player of the past 25 years who didn’t win the Heisman Trophy. Young did win it, practically single-handedly scrambling and tossing his method around Georgia to win the SEC title in 2021, icing his Heisman campaign. The next season, Young led the Tide to a 10-2 record even while hiding irritating injuries that kept him off the practice field for a big portion of the fall. And don’t even bother with the comparison of Tua vs. Young in the NFL. I don’t care if this year’s Panthers had Joe Montana or Tom Brady behind center, nobody could finish passes when they are being piledriven into the turf on every play.Editor’s Picks 2 Related WR: DeVonta Smith, Julio Jones,

Amari Cooper If you’re trying to find the position that many precisely illustrates the genius of Saban, it’s this group right here. The coach who utilized to passionately argue for rules that would bog down pass-happy spread offenses ended up being the CEO of Wideout Incorporated. Just look at the receivers who didn’t make our leading three, a list that includes Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III from Alabama, not to point out Josh Reed and Michael Clayton from LSU and even Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason and Muhsin Muhammad from Saban’s stint at Michigan State from 1995 to 1999. Hey, we told you these lineup cuts would be wicked.RB: Derrick Henry Mentioning wicked cuts, our one-back set has another Heisman winner set up in

the backfield. Henry won the stiff-armed guy in 2015 and he edges out the 2009 winner, Mark Ingram II. Why? Have you ever seen the two of them standing side by side? It resembles Ant-Man before and after he strikes the”become huge”button.TE: O.J. Howard doesn’t have ostentatious stats, at least not in the regular season, but his back-to-back championship game performances versus Clemson in

2016 and 2017(314
backyards, 3 TDs)still give the folks in upstate South Carolina the heebie-jeebies. OT: Andre Smith, Alex Leatherwood OG: Opportunity Warmack, Barrett Jones C: Ryan Kelly The NFL trenches are like an Alabama Big & Tall Clothes Warehouse, with relatively every professional lineup including a former Saban O-lineman. However this quintet of man-mountains covers Saban’s time in Tuscaloosa, starting with Smith, anchor of
the 2007-08 teams all the way to Leatherwood, who covered the blind side for 2021’s record-breaking offense. Among them, this group owns 3 Outland Trophies and four Jacobs Obstructing Trophies, and all were first-team All-Americans. Heck, Jones was a two-time All-American and did it playing 2 different positions! Also, if our All-Saban team bus ever wound up in a ditch or snow embankment, these 5 might pull it out with their bare hands.Defense Jonathan Allen, an Alabama local, was a star for the Crimson Tide group that won the 2016 CFP Championship Game. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images D-line: Jonathan Allen, Will Anderson Jr., Marcus Spears Allen would have made this list if he had actually made only one play in his profession, that being the air-borne”Superman”sack of Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight in 2016. It was so fantastic that at that year’s College Football Awards, I saw Knight ask Allen to sign a picture of it. It was simply one of his 28.5 profession sacks, 2nd only to Derrick Thomas on Alabama’s list. Another swap-out from our initial 2021 list is Anderson replacing Quinnen Williams after posting back-to-back consentaneous All-America seasons in 2021 and 2022, together with back-to-back SEC Defensive Gamer of the Year awards and back-to-back Bronko Nagurski Trophies. Meanwhile, the lone LSU player on our All-Saban team is Spears, the QB-smashing captain of Saban’s first nationwide title group in 2003. Likewise, I deal with Spears and he knows where I live, so I thought it best that I didn’t leave him off this list.LB: C.J. Mosley, Dont ‘a Hightower, Rolando McClain, Reuben Foster In case you were wondering why we went with a three-man defensive front, it was to free up space for all of the linebackers. This position room is more crowded than Saban’s ring drawer. Mosley had 319 takes on over 4 seasons, the best for a Bama LB considering that the mid-1980s. Over his 4 years, Hightower had 21 tackles for loss and was a two-time group captain. McClain had 14.5 tackles for loss in one season and was

a two-time member of the dean’s list. And Foster … well, simply ask Leonard Fournette about Reuben Foster. On Nov. 7, 2015, Foster had 11 takes on, limiting the LSU running back to 35 yards and essentially ending his Heisman campaign.CB: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Dre Kirkpatrick Now we come to the poor souls in the All-Saban defensive backfield. No one captures more heat or hell than these men. They needed to face off against all those future NFL receivers in practice every single day, all while under the burning-the-ants magnifying glass of Saban, who not only played defensive back at Kent State back then but also was a DB position coach for a lots years– from West Virginia to the Houston Oilers.

However that’s likewise why the Patricks– Fitz and Kirk– will always hold a special location in Saban’s heart. Kirkpatrick’s crown gem will constantly be his 9 pass separations against LSU in the 2011 BCS Championship Game Video Game. Fitzpatrick’s specified objective was to lead the NCAA in interceptions, however he didn’t. Why? Due to the fact that he had a lot of pick-sixes(four, an Alabama career record), opponents stopped tossing to his side practically completely.S: Mark Barron, Landon Collins Both of these guys were pressed into leadership roles ahead of schedule when the All-Americans who preceded them departed for the NFL. Both guys responded to the bell by ending up being All-Americans themselves, not to discuss team captains and nationwide champs. Much like the coach for whom our group is called, these 2 are difficult, clever, dominating and, yeah, a little scary.Special groups Will Reichard ended up being college football’s all-time leading scorer

while playing for Saban. Gary Cosby Jr./ U.S.A. TODAY Sports PK: Will Reichard Poor Paul Edinger. On our preliminary All-Saban team, he was the lone Michigan State agent. But throughout Saban’s final season, Reichard became the career scoring leader in the history of college football. That feels significant.P: JK Scott Right smack in the middle of Saban’s very first season in East Lansing, a child with a huge ideal foot was born 1,200 miles away in Denver. His name was JK Scott, and 20 years later, he was an important part of two national championship groups in Tuscaloosa as a two-time All-SEC, one-time All-American and now all-time All-Saban punter.KR: Javier Arenas Both of those huge shoes are glad they never needed to kick it away to the final member of our All-Saban team. In fairness, Arenas was recruited by Mike Shula, but it was under Saban that he became a kick-return legend, setting an

SEC record for punt-return TDs (seven )and finishing only 9 yards shy of the NCAA mark for career punt-return lawns.(Damn that Wes Welker!)He is still the only player in college football history to rack up 2,000-plus kickoff-return backyards and 1,500-plus yards on punt returns. Also, he had 154 takes on, 6 interceptions and 7 sacks en route to being called an All-American at cornerback, so yeah, we

managed to sneak another
remarkable defensive back onto our All-Saban group through a loophole. Tricky wise, best? Similar to Saban himself. Simply call it part of our Process.

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