Though Alabama’s game against Chattanooga on Saturday might not mean much by itself, the last home game of the season always brings up emotions for the seniors playing for the last time in front of their home crowd.
Obviously, the No. 1 Crimson Tide has at least two more games left to play after this one, so the seniors’ seasons aren’t quite over yet. But, it’s still as good to consider where this group will rank in Alabama history.
For the graduating seniors, they came in after the rise of the Tide was complete, and they had just won their first national title under Nick Saban. For those who redshirted their first year, like quarterback AJ McCarron and wide receivers Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood, they played on the scout team during that dream season.
But first, we must start with last year’s class, which was considered to be the best in school history. It only featured 11 players, but those 11 will go down as some of the best to ever play at Alabama.
For the purposes of this discussion, we will not include players who declared for the draft before their senior season or did not regularly contribute to the team. Only scholarship players and walk-ons who saw significant playing time will be mentioned.
Alabama’s 2012 class won 49 games, tying the 1997 Nebraska Cornhuskers class—which holds the FBS record—and setting the Alabama record. It won three national championships, two SEC championships and countless individual awards.
Most importantly, it was the class that started the dynasty and drove Alabama into conversations about one of the best runs ever in college football.
Alabama's seniors from that year were as follows: Barrett Jones, Robert Lester, Michael Williams, Nico Johnson, Chance Warmack, Quinton Dial, Damion Square, Jesse Williams, Jeremy Shelley, Carson Tinker and Kelly Johnson.
If 2012 was known as the class that started the dynasty, 2013 could be known as the one that sustained it, arguably an even tougher task.
They were freshmen when Alabama lost three games in 2010, setting the tone for two straight seasons of a “never again” mentality. Since that 2010 season, the Crimson Tide have only lost two games and won two championships. They could be headed for a third straight.
This class can only match the number of wins the 2012 class had. It would have to repeat what it did in 2009 to be mentioned with them among the winningest classes at Alabama.
The list of Alabama's seniors who will be recognized this year include: AJ McCarron, C.J. Mosley, Kellen Williams, Kevin Norwood, Tana Patrick, Kenny Bell, Anthony Steen, Cody Mandell, John Fulton, Cade Foster, Ed Stinson and Deion Belue.
It may be too early to tell if the 2013 class will equal what 2012 did. If it does, the players could have a case for best Alabama class of all time.
There is an argument to be made that winning three straight national championships is more difficult than three in four years. But, the 2012 class got the Crimson Tide over the hump, winning the first since 1992.
No matter what happens the rest of the year, though, it’s clear that with the run Alabama is on right now, the groups will be remembered regardless.