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Grading College Career of Every Alabama Starter Playing Final Game in BCS Title

Ian BergCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2016

Grading College Career of Every Alabama Starter Playing Final Game in BCS Title

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    The Alabama Crimson Tide has a host of departing players that will play their final games in crimson and white when they take the field in Miami against Notre Dame this January. 

    They have all played integral roles in the success that has come from the Capstone in the past half-decade, and before they depart there is no better time than now to look back at the career’s they put together for Alabama. 

    This class of seniors and possible early departures will have played in three national title games, and will have won at least one of them. These players will be a part of one of the greatest runs in the history of the Alabama Crimson Tide Football dynasty. 

    Here is a look at the Tide players that will forever be remembered as champions in the eyes of the Alabama faithful. 

    Possible early NFL Draft entries denoted with *

Damion Square: Defensive End

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    Career Grade: C

    Damion Square has been a starter for the Alabama defense since his sophomore season when he started six games. He played sparingly as a redshirt freshman before falling to a knee injury in the third week of the 2009 season. 

    He has been a consistent contributor for the defense on the outside of the defensive line, but he was never a showstopper from the position—he has been a gap filler. 

    Square heads into the National Title Game with 33 total tackles and 3.5 sacks for the 2012 season. 

    The Alabama defense has needed Square’s skill set, but his career has not been one for the record books. 

    NFL Draft Scout lists Square as the No. 33 defensive end in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

Barrett Jones: Offensive Line

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    Career Grade: A+

    Barrett Jones is one of the most versatile linemen in college football. 

    Jones started all 14 games during his redshirt freshman season with Alabama in 2009, helping pave the way for Mark Ingram to win the Heisman and the Crimson Tide to win a national title. 

    In four years as a starter Jones has played center, guard and tackle. He has won the Outland, Rimington and Jacobs Blocking Trophy during his career at Alabama. He has also been a consensus All-American selection two years in a row. 

    Jones is the most talented position player on the Alabama team because of his versatility and knowledge of the game. 

    NFL Draft Scout lists Jones as the No. 1 center in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

Chance Warmack: Offensive Line

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    Career Grade: A

    Chance Warmack has been a three year starter at guard for Alabama, earning first team All-American honors in 2012. 

    Warmack was the backup for Barrett Jones during the 2009 season playing in five games that year. He has been a starter ever since. 

    This year he was considered to be a major part of the success that Alabama had on the ground and helped lead Alabama to its second straight National Title Game berth. 

    NFL Draft Scout lists Warmack as the No. 1 guard in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

Robert Lester: Safety

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    Career Grade: A

    Robert Lester was not a highly rated recruit when he landed at Alabama. He came from Foley High School with all-star receiver Julio Jones and earned his way into the starting strong safety position in 2010 despite being only a 3-star recruit. 

    He played in eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2009, and he was a special teams warrior in his first season. He has been a starter ever since. 

    Since taking over the starting safety role for the Tide Lester has recorded 13 interceptions and been a danger for any quarterback attempting to make downfield throws against the Alabama defense. 

    NFL Draft Scout lists Lester as the No. 1 strong safety in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

Michael Williams: Tight End

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    Career Grade: C

    Michael Williams arrived at Alabama as one of the top rated tight ends in the country in 2008. 

    He began his playing career as a reserve tight end in the 2009 national title season, playing in all 14 games for the Tide. 

    In 2010 he started 10 of 13 games, and has since been the regular starter at the tight end position for the Tide. He has been a force as a blocker, but as a receiver his performance has been lacking. 

    He has only accumulated 48 catches for 486 yards and six touchdowns in his career. The Tide offense calls for the tight end to be a fierce blocker—which Williams is—but more production in the offense would have lifted his career to a higher grade. 

    NFL Draft Scout lists Williams as the No. 4 tight end in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

Nico Johnson: Linebacker

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    Career Grade: B

    Nico Johnson has roamed the second level of the Alabama defense since his freshman season in 2009. 

    Johnson is a run-stopping phenom, killing opposing running backs when they hit the gaps that he fills. Over the past four years he has had 24 games with multiple tackles. His career high came against LSU this season when he finished with 12 total stops. 

    He hasn’t always been the marquee linebacker for the Tide, but he has been a lunch-pail type player—always bringing his best effort week after week. 

    NFL Draft Scout lists Johnson as the No. 3 inside linebacker in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

Jesse Williams: Defensive Line

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    Career Grade: B

    Jesse Williams is famous for being the Australian strong man for the Alabama defense. He has been a force in the weight room and anchoring the front of the Alabama 3-4 scheme for the past two seasons. 

    Williams came to Alabama as a JUCO transfer from Arizona Western College. 

    He was a starter the day he walked onto the field for Alabama, and despite his lack of showy stats, he is a force that is garuanteed to clog up the middle of even the most talented offensive lines in the country. 

    Williams’ talent is undeniable and his freakish strength has become a thing of legend over the years on the Capstone. 

    NFL Draft Scout lists Williams as the No. 2 defensive tackle in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Kelly Johnson: Full Back

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    Career Grade: C

    Kelly Johnson is a blocking fullback for the Alabama offense. He was a walk-on for the Tide but he took over the primary blocking back role for Alabama this season. He was initially a linebacker for Alabama. 

    His ability to walk-on and earn a scholarship is impressive, but his lack of career impact is very visible. His stock rose exponentially this season as the starting fullback. 

    This year he has helped pave the way for two 1,000-yard rushers and helped protect the most efficient passer in the game in 2012. 

    NFL Draft Scout projects Johnson as the No. 13 fullback in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

*Eddie Lacy, Running Back, A

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    Career Grade: A

    When Eddie Lacy takes the field it is like watching a video game at times. He has become the master of the spin move, and in three years as a contributor he has been electric from the Tide backfield. 

    In 2010 he came in as an occasional change of pace back for the Tide and helped fill in for Mark Ingram who battled through a knee injury that season. 

    In 2011 he became a primary back as a part of the most dangerous tandem in college football with Trent Richardson. This season he took over the primary role and finished the 2012 regular season with 184 carries for 1,182 yards and 16 touchdowns. 

    He took over the starting role for Alabama in 2012 and showed the ability to mix his speed and elusiveness with power. 

    He has 335 carries for 2,262 yards and 29 rushing touchdowns in his career. 

    NFL Draft Scout lists Lacy as the No. 1 running back in the 2014 NFL Draft. 

    *Lacy is considered to be a possible NFL Draft early departure

*D.J. Fluker: Offensive Tackle, A +

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    Career Grade: A+

    D.J. Fluker is a force along the Alabama offensive line, helping the Tide pave the way to a second consecutive national title berth this year. He started nine games at right tackle as a redshirt freshman in 2010, and has been the starter at right tackle ever since. 

    Fluker is a bulldozer in the run game and is one of the better pass blockers for the Tide offense. He has helped the Tide offense produce consistently on the ground over the past three seasons. 

    According to College Football Talk, Nick Saban said that Fluker is, “a guy who’s probably going to go out for the draft.”

    NFL Draft Scout lists Fluker as the No. 4 offensive tackle in the 2014 NFL Draft. 

    *Fluker is considered to be a possible NFL Draft early departure

     


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