Alabama Football: Surprise Players Who Will Carry Crimson Tide to National Title
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Eddie Lacy, Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack are household names on Alabama's talented championship-bound squad, but several surprise players will carry the Crimson Tide to a national title against Notre Dame.
Beginning with their front seven, the Crimson Tide feature a host of future NFL stars, but one player who stands out on film but doesn't receive a ton of accolades is senior defensive end Damion Square.
The 6'3", 286-pounder broke into the starting lineup as a sophomore, when he totaled 27 tackles (seven for loss) in six starts and 12 overall appearances.
In the Crimson Tide's national championship season last year, Square posted similar numbers (30 tackles, seven for loss and one sack) before improving his pass-rush skills as a senior. This year he's recorded 3.5 sacks and a team-high nine quarterback hurries while chipping in 33 tackles, including 3.5 for loss.
Square lives up to his name, as he plays with good strength and can anchor versus the run. Playing next to Jesse Williams, the two are a load to handle and Square will be counted on to control the line of scrimmage against the Fighting Irish.
Complementing the Crimson Tide's stud defensive lineman is another unsung but extremely talented front-seven defender: Adrian Hubbard.
Just a sophomore, Hubbard lines up at strong-side linebacker for Alabama and perfectly fits the mold for a pass-rushing 3-4 'backer.
At 6'6", 248 pounds with 4.76 speed, Hubbard is the most productive pass-rusher on the Tide and has helped ease the loss of stars Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw to the 2012 NFL Draft.
After a slow start, Hubbard has grown into his role and his production has soared. Utilizing his unique length and athleticism, the Georgia native has racked up 39 total tackles (10 for loss) and leads the Tide with six sacks and three forced fumbles. Hubbard will be tasked with getting after fellow sophomore Everett Golson, who stands just 6'1", 185 pounds.
If Hubbard is able to apply consistent pressure on the young quarterback, Alabama will roll to a title.
Moving to the offensive side of the ball, the Crimson Tide feature the most dominant and talented offensive line in college football. Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker garner the most attention, but it's sophomore Cyrus Kouandjio who will carry the Tide to a title.
A former 5-star prospect, the 6'6", 311-pound Maryland native has quietly put together a great first season as the starting blindside protector.
Often facing the defense's best pass-rusher, Kouandjio has been tasked with shutting down the likes of Sam Montgomery and has succeeded with flying colors. According to Andrew Gribble of Alabama.com, the talented tackle graded out at a team-best 89 percent against LSU—a remarkable feat considering Montgomery is a first-round lock.
While Manti Te'o earns the most headlines on the Notre Dame defense, it's sophomore defensive end Stephon Tuitt who might be the best player on the nation's best defense.
The Fighting Irish like to move him around, but the Crimson Tide will need Kouandjio to win one-on-one battles with the 6'6", 303-pound pass-rusher if they hope to emerge victorious.
The offensive line gets all the credit for Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon's fantastic production, but there's an unsung hero on the Crimson Tide's offense that will lead the team to a national title.
Tight end Michael Williams is often lost in the shuffle, yet the senior tight end remains a pivotal player for Nick Saban.
Bringing rare size (6'6", 269 pounds) to the table, Williams isn't going to fool anyone into thinking he's Vernon Davis or Aaron Hernandez. Instead, the senior prefers to do the dirty work, acting as a key blocker in many of Alabama's running formations.
He's not just a one-trick pony—you have to respect him in the passing game, too.
His receiving totals have improved every year, culminating in a career-high in catches (21) and touchdowns (three) in 2012.
Williams doesn't carry the star status of many of his other teammates, but he's one of a handful of surprise players who will carry the Crimson Tide to a national title.
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