Friday, July 12, 2013
Projecting future all-time Tide greats
By Alex Scarborough
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When you're talking about drafting a team of all-time Alabama greats, there's an important point to consider. While you're combing through the litany of All-Americans and Hall of Famers, it's vital to keep in mind that those lists are incomplete. There are, in fact, many more players worthy of being drafted to an all-time team than those who have come in the past. There are plenty of current players who will one day fit the bill as well.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has developed slowly in two seasons with the Tide, but his performance in the BCS title game vaulted him onto the national radar.
S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix: His family and friends call him "Ha Ha Clinton-Dix," but the world might know him as an All-American and first-round draft pick by the time everything is said and done with his career at the Capstone. The former four-star prospect out of Florida has come along slowly at Alabama, though. This past season he started all but four games and ended the year with a spectacular leaping interception against Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game. With seasoning, he has all the skill to develop into an Ed Reed type of safety who can shut down half the field with his ability to change direction and anticipate the play.
TE O.J. Howard: He hasn't played a down of collegiate football yet, but let's face it, the bar isn't set all that high for tight ends at Alabama. Sure, Ozzie Newsome was an all-time great at both tight end and wide receiver under Paul "Bear" Bryant in the 1970s, but outside of him there hasn't been a first-team All-American at the position in the school's history. Howard has the look of a difference maker who could see the field from Day 1 as a freshman. The former four-star prospect and No. 2-rated tight end in his class easily is the most athletic tight end in the Nick Saban era, and with AJ McCarron under center, he has the chance to get off to a fast start as rookie in 2013.
CB Geno Smith: There hasn't been a lack for star cornerbacks under Saban. It started with Javier Arenas and Kareem Jackson, transitioned to Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie, and then last season moved on to Dee Milliner, who finished second in the country in passes defended and was drafted early in the first round by the New York Jets. Geno Smith, a former four-star prospect from Atlanta, looks to be next in line at the position. He came on late last season and started the SEC Championship Game and likely will start opposite Deion Belue this year.
RG Anthony Steen: Because of the star power on last year's offensive line, guys like Anthony Steen and Cyrus Kouandjio were somewhat overshadowed. But now that Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack are off to the NFL, it's time for Steen to receive the recognition he deserves as one of the best and most consistent offensive guards in the SEC. He already has 25 starts to his name and will finish his career well above 30, placing him in rare air considering the talent that has occupied the trenches in Tuscaloosa.