Alabama experts Chris Low, Ivan Maisel and Alex Scarborough agonized and analyzed the rosters of Tide greats to select their all-time Alabama teams. Here’s a look at the surprises, steals and moves that made up their teams.
Surprise pick: Amari Cooper to Team Low and T.J. Yeldon to Team Scarborough. Alabama has been playing football for 120 years. Cooper and Yeldon have participated in one season of that history. Yes, Yeldon did things that no other freshman running back has ever done in Tide history, rushing for 1,108 yards and 12 scores. Cooper burst onto the scene with eight catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns against Ole Miss last season and went on to have a 1,000-yard season. But both will be just sophomores when the 2013 season begins. They went in the late rounds of the draft, where GMs can afford to take flyers on potential, but weighing their one season vs. all the players Alabama has produced might make that a tougher sell.
Best sleeper pick: “Mr. Irrelevant,” Hootie Ingram to Team Maisel. Before his long career as a coach and athletics director at Florida State and Alabama, Ingram was a star in Tuscaloosa. He was a three-year letterman in football and baseball from 1952-54. Alabama has produced countless great defensive backs, but it’s Ingram who holds the record for interceptions with 10 in 1952, with two returned for touchdowns that season.
Biggest steal: DJ Hall (Round 16), Freddie Milons (Round 20) to Team Scarborough. Ozzie Newsome, Don Hutson and Julio Jones came off early, as expected. Alex was able to wait around to the latter half of the draft to get Hall and Milons. Hall and Milons are Alabama’s first and third leading receivers, respectively, in terms of career receptions. Hall is the Alabama record-holder for receptions in a game, career receptions and receiving yards. He is second overall in career touchdowns and put up consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2006 and 2007. That gives Team Scarborough QB AJ McCarron a trio of receivers in Newsome, Milons and Hall that combined for 448 career receptions and 39 touchdowns.
Best unit: Team Low LBs. The Low team chose the 3-4 alignment and took Derrick Thomas, Cornelius Bennett, Woodrow Lowe and Courtney Upshaw. Imagine the pass-rushing power with Thomas and Bennett, with Thomas as Alabama’s career and season record-holder for sacks. Bennett added 15 in his Tide career. The unit gets a further boost from Lowe who was a three-time All-American, four-time SEC champ and a national title winner. Lowe also holds the record for tackles in a season and totaled more than 300 in his career.
Best team: Team Maisel. One common thing runs through Team Maisel – national championships. A player in each unit of Team Maisel has a national championship, with a total of 20 national championships won. That doesn’t count the six that Team Maisel receiver Paul Bryant won as a coach.