Alabama Football: Unsung Heroes for Nation's Top Team
John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE
Any college football fan worth his salt knows about Eddie Lacy's powerful running style or Dee Milliner's sticky hands, but No. 1 Alabama has received plenty of help from a group of unsung heroes.
For a team that often wins games with its defense, field position can be a game-changer, and luckily the Crimson Tide feature a special teams standout in Christion Jones.
The 5'11", 185-pounder is listed as a wide receiver, but he plays a much larger role than just a pass catcher.
Jones leads the team with 453 all-purpose yards and has scored four touchdowns in Alabama's 4-0 start.
Interestingly, the Alabama native signed with the Crimson Tide as a 4-star cornerback, yet the sophomore has turned into a dynamic playmaker on both offense and special teams.
Despite catching just nine passes, Jones has scored three offensive touchdowns and is averaging 16 yards per catch. Throw in his 10.9-yard average on punt returns and 33.4-yard average on kick returns—including a 99-yard touchdown—and Jones has been a big-play threat every time he touches the ball.
Enough of the offense. At the end of the day, everyone knows Nick Saban's teams are all about the other side of the ball.
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Although there's been some transition at linebacker, junior C.J. Mosley has filled the voids left by Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw.
Though he lacks Hightower's rare size and Upshaw's dominant pass-rush ability, Mosley still packs a lot of punch in his 6'2", 232-pound frame. He signed with the Crimson Tide as the nation's No. 6 outside linebacker and has found a home as Nick Saban's nickel 'backer.
Despite not being listed as a starter, Mosley leads the team with 39 tackles while recording 1.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.
The true junior's terrific speed and playmaking ability have earned him a spot as NFL Draft Scout's No. 3 outside linebacker of the 2014 class, although his excellent play this year could make him a candidate to declare early.
Either way, Mosley has been an unsung stud for Alabama thus far.
Nick Saban has always benefited from some excellent defensive linemen and this year is no different.
Junior Ed Stinson—who measures in at a lengthy 6'4", 282 pounds—has been a pleasant surprise for the Crimson Tide.
The former South Dade High (Fla.) standout was a 4-star prospect who didn't do much his first two years in Alabama before showing flashes last season.
In 2012, he's been outstanding.
Stinson has recorded 13 tackles (10 solo), but continues to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. The Crimson Tide's starting defensive end has registered six tackles for loss, two sacks and two quarterback hurries. Those are impressive numbers for a 3-4 defensive end.
As long as he keeps improving week to week, Stinson has a good shot at following former Crimson Tide standouts Brandon Deaderick, Terrence Cody and Marcell Dareus to the NFL.
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