Alabama's 10 Best in 2012
With college football kickoff right around the corner, that means it's time for the third annual list of the Top 10 Crimson Tide players for the upcoming season.
Alabama is coming off their second national championship in the last three years and their 14th overall. Alabama defeated the LSU Tigers 21-0 in New Orleans to claim the title—and in case you were wondering, no, LSU still hasn't scored. The Crimson Tide will open the season in just 38 days against the Michigan Wolverines in Dallas.
Now for the list: This is not necessarily a list of who I think are the 10 best players on the roster, but a list of the 10 guys I think will have the biggest impact on the upcoming season.
So can these guys and the rest of the Alabama squad help bring home No.15 to Tuscaloosa? We'll find out in a matter of a few short months!
Not Quite in the Top 10
With so many great recruiting classes in the Saban era, it's hard to crack the top 10 players on the Crimson Tide's roster. There are several guys outside the top 10 that could possibly be top players at other universities. Here are a few guys that didn't quite make the top 10 but will surely have huge seasons for the Tide in 2012.
Dee Hart, RB
Hart is coming off his freshman year in which he was redshirted. I think 2012 will be a breakout season for the freshman back. Not only his running skills but his kick returning skills will be a valuable asset to the Tide in 2012.
Chance Warmack, OL
Warmack was the first guy out of my top 10. Not necessarily because he didn't deserve it but more for the fact that I already had two offensive linemen in the top 10. He has started the past two seasos at left guard for the Tide and expects to do so again in 2012. He was voted to the preseason All-SEC first team by the media and should contend for many postseason awards.
DeAndrew White, WR
Here is a guy that some might be surprised to see on this list. I absolutely love this guy. His freshman year he had just 14 catches but turned those into 151 yards and two scores. Another valuable asset to his game is his kick returning skill. Look for new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to fall in love with this guy in 2012.
Michael Williams, TE
Michael Williams will be a huge part of the offense in 2012, and the media agrees. He was selected to the preseason All-SEC third team last week. Look for A.J. McCarron to utilize his unique size and speed combination all season long.
10. Damion Square, DL
Starting off the official top 10 is defensive lineman Damion Square. Square has become a popular face over the offseason when he traveled with the Tide to the SEC Media Days. Square is coming off a 2011 season in which he started all 13 games and had seven tackles for loss.
He was named a member of the preseason second team All-SEC squad, and looks to build off his great season in 2011.
9. Jesse Williams, NT
Jesse Williams is a monster. The Australian is coming off a very productive season for the Tide in which he started all 13 games. He had four tackles for loss on the campaign.
Coming into 2012 Williams is finally starting to garner some of the national respect he deserves. He was selected to the preseason second team All-SEC squad, along with being named to the Lombardi Award watch list.
Look for the Australian to have breakout season for the Tide and be one of the most talked about players in the country by season's end.
8. Dee Milliner, DB
Dee Milliner is coming off a season in which he led the Crimson Tide with three interceptions. He also returned one of those for a touchdown against Auburn.
Milliner comes in to the 2012 season as the Tide's top corner. He was selected to the preseason All-SEC second team.
With a good campaign you could see Milliner's name in a lot of award talks, and it could vault his draft stock for next year's NFL Draft.
7. D.J. Fluker, OL
D.J. Fluker enters his junior year at Alabama with big expectations. The big guy is ready to excel. Fluker is a second-year starter and is regarded as one of the top linemen in the nation.
Fluker was named to the Lombardi Award watch list for the upcoming season as well as being chosen for the preseason first team All-SEC group.
Look for Fluker to have a monstrous season along an offensive line that could go down as one of the best of all time.
6. Robert Lester, S
Robert Lester comes into 2012 as the Tide's most experienced secondary player. He had a bit of a down year in 2011 compared to his 2010 numbers, but still had a very strong season. He was voted as an All-American honorable mention for his 2011 campaign.
Lester was voted to the preseason first Team All-SEC squad. He looks to cap off his career here at The Capstone with a great senior season and help lead the Tide back to the promise land.
5. Nico Johnson, LB
Nico Johnson is coming off a great season for the Crimson Tide and will look to add to his résumé in the upcoming season. Johnson was a beast last year for the Tide, making plays all over the field.
He comes into 2012 with a lot of high expectations and I have every reason to believe he will fulfill them. He was selected to the preseason All-SEC first team and was placed on the Lombardi Award watch list.
Look for Johnson to be one of the Tide's and the nation's top defensive players in 2012.
4. A. J. McCarron, QB
A.J. McCarron came in to 2011 in a dead-even battle for the starting job with Phillip Sims. I don't think there is much doubt as to who the starter will be in 2012.
McCarron threw for 2,634 yards last season and 16 touchdowns. He was also named the most outstanding offensive player for the National Championship game. In that game against LSU he threw for 234 yards and had a QB rating of 125.5.
McCarron comes into the 2012 season with high expectations. He is on the Walter Camp Award watch list, which is annually given to the nation's greatest player and some people have him as one of the preseason favorites for the Heisman Trophy. Look for McCarron to build on his 2011 success in 2012.
3. Eddie Lacy, RB
Eddie Lacy looks to continue the Crimson Tide's recent streak of award-winning running backs. Although replacing Trent Richardson will be no easy task, Lacy is ready to give it his all. Lacy has been dealing with some injuries during the offseason but it appears as if he'll be 100 percent come September 1.
Last season Lacy ran for 694 yards and seven scores as a backup. He also averaged over seven yards per carry.
Lacy was selected to the preseason All-SEC second team. I think that this will be a breakout season for the Tide's running back and could be a guy in Heisman talks come December.
2. C.J. Mosley
I absolutely love this kid and have for quite sometime. Some people may say that this is a bit high for him, but I expect great things out of Mosley this year. He suffered an injury in the national championship game but should be ready to go by the start of the season.
Last year Mosley split time with Nico Johnson and had a very productive season. He is a guy with great instincts and plays hard to the final whistle.
Mosley was selected to the preseason second team All-SEC squad at last week's Media Days. Look for Mosley to have a huge season in 2012 and don't be surprised to find him in contention for many postseason awards. And possibly even a top-10 pick in next April's NFL Draft.
1. Barrett Jones, OL
Is there anything this guy can't do? If so then I've yet to see it. Since coming to The Capstone in 2008 Jones has played all up and down the offensive line. After red-shirting his first year on campus, he started all 14 games for the national champions at right guard and was named to the Freshman All-American team. His sophomore year he again played at right guard and was named first team All-SEC and third team All-American.
His junior year at The Capstone, Jones moved over to left tackle, and what a successful move it was. He won the Outland Trophy, which goes to the nation's top interior lineman. He also brought home first team All-American and All-SEC honors, and won about every other offensive lineman award possible.
This year, Jones' senior season with the Tide, he will make the move to center. He comes into the season on every kind of preseason watch list imaginable. There is no reason to believe that Jones won't finish his career at Alabama the way he has played his first three years for the Crimson Tide!