Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Build your all-time Nick Saban Alabama squad to pass time until football season

Spring training has come and gone, and once again it’s got me in the mood for college football. Unfortunately, we have a whole summer before that comes around, so here’s something to give you something to think about until then: What is the all-time Nick Saban team at Alabama? Here’s my opinion on what that team would look like. See you in the fall.

Offensive line

Here is my starting lineup, from left tackle to right tackle: Andre Smith, Mike Johnson, Antoine Caldwell, Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones. All players were All-Americans at their respective positions, with two (Smith and Jones) winning the Outland Trophy for their performances at tackle. Putting Caldwell at center would allow for the best array of talent possible on the line.

Tight end

Brad Smelley and Michael Williams are the best bets here if Alabama goes in a two-tight-end set. Williams’ main role at the position was to block, something he did very well. On the other hand, Smelley was more of a receiver, and has had the most receiving yards of any tight end in a season under Saban.

Wide receiver

Here is my starting lineup at wide receiver, assuming Alabama goes 5-wide: Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, D.J. Hall, Marquis Maze and Kevin Norwood. Jones was the whole package for Alabama, while Cooper became the first freshman to accumulate 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Hall – also a 1,000-yard receiver in 2007 – was Alabama’s best receiving threat for years, while Maze and Norwood both have shown flashes of brilliance.

Running back

My starting rotation for running back actually existed in 2010: Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Each rushed for over 1,000 yards the year they started. Ingram won the Heisman, Richardson won the Doak Walker Award, and Lacy is likely to be the third consecutive Alabama running back to be the first one off the board in the NFL Draft. That’s scary talent.


AJ McCarron is the obvious choice here. He’s easily the most talented and efficient quarterback Saban’s put on a field for Alabama, and one of a very select group of players to lead two teams to national titles.

Defensive line

Marcell Dareus, Jesse Williams, Terrence Cody and Wallace Gilberry make up my starting defensive line in a 3-4 set. Dareus has the most talent at the end position, while Cody and Williams could rotate to eat blocks and stuff runs in the middle. Gilberry might surprise some people at the other end position, but he turned in 10 sacks, 27 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in 2007.


Rolando McClain, Dont’a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw and C.J. Mosley make up this ultra-talented linebackers corps. Butkus Award-winner McClain would lead from Mike position, while the versatile and speedy Hightower and Mosley take over the Will and Sam spots, respectively. Upshaw can wreak havoc in the backfield at his Jack position.


Here is my starting defensive secondary: Rashad Johnson and Mark Barron at the safety spots, with Dee Milliner and Dre Kirkpatrick at the corner positions. Johnson and Barron both led the secondaries when they were on the team in 2007 and 2012, respectively. Kirkpatrick was an ultra-talented defender in 2011, and Milliner will likely be a top-5 pick in Thursday’s draft.

Special teams

Javier Arenas was an unbelievable punt returner, able to turn the smallest juke into an incredible return. Cody Mandell has the most punts per average of any Saban-coached team at Alabama, and also has a knack of pinning the ball deep in opposing territory. Leigh Tiffin was also a clutch kicker for Alabama and is the all-time leading scorer in Crimson Tide history. Add the sure-handed Carson Tinker at the long snapper position, and you’ve got yourself a heck of special teams squad.


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