GAMEDAY: Another one

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Both O.J. Howard and Jonathan Allen will be returning in the fall to continue playing for the Crimson Tide. CW | Layton Dudley

Matthew Speakman

Both of these declarations were basically a formality, as most people expected the two to declare due to their high grades and stellar production on the field for the 2015 season. When the press conference for the players to announce their decisions arrived, many writers and fans were surprised to see just these two men walk into the door.

Juniors Jonathan Allen, O.J. Howard, Tim Williams, Reuben Foster, Eddie Jackson and Ryan Anderson decided to stay another year at Alabama to polish their skills for the professional level.

Jonathan Allen (DL) – The 6-3, 265-pound defensive end’s decision to return was probably the most surprising decision of the six returnees. Many media outlets, such as SB Nation, had Allen as a late first-round selection in the upcoming draft due to his overwhelming speed and ability to rush the passer. Allen led Alabama in sacks this season and showed his versatility on third down, when he would slide to the defensive tackle position and beat guards with ease. His return means Alabama’s pass rush could be just as menacing as it was this year.

O.J. Howard (TE) – Howard’s decision was most likely sealed when he showed how productive he can be when given the right schemes. Howard showed his five-star talent in the National Championship when he caught 5 balls for a total of 208 yards (a National Championship record) and 2 touchdowns. Many have been waiting for Howard to have a game like he did against Clemson, and with his decision to return, he could have more games like that if he is given the chance.

Tim Williams (LB) – The pass-rushing specialist based his decision to return off his desire to become a more complete linebacker. Williams mostly came in on third down to provide speed off the edge when opponents were forced to pass and usually got to the quarterback with ease. Williams was a breakout star in 2015 and will look to build off of that as he gets more playing time in his senior season.

Reuben Foster (LB) – The linebacker that formed a lethal partnership with Reggie Ragland will step in and be the star middle linebacker that comes with a Saban era Alabama defense. While Ragland got most of the attention, Foster still showed his freak athleticism and ability to deliver big hits while also holding his own in 
pass coverage.

Eddie Jackson (DB) – The corner-turned-safety thrived in his new position in 2015, scoring two touchdowns from a defensive position. The junior was able to play centerfield and take advantage of quarterbacks’ mistakes all year. His final year will allow him to develop into a professional safety and give Alabama a playmaker in the secondary yet again.

Ryan Anderson (LB) – Anderson was yet another player that thrived off of rushing the passer, who had games where he looked nearly unstoppable (prime example being his two-sack performance against Mississippi State). Anderson will provide Alabama with even more depth and experience at the outside linebacker position and will be able to make more plays while both run and pass blitzing.

Some quick stats concerning returning juniors:

  • Jonathan Allen – 2nd in the SEC in sacks with 12. Also had 14.5 tackles for loss and 36 tackles overall.
  • O.J. Howard – Five catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns in record-breaking performance in NCG.
  • Tim Williams – 3rd in the SEC in sacks with 10.5. 12.5 tackles for loss and 19 tackles overall.
  • Reuben Foster – 2nd on the team in total tackles with 73. Had eight tackles for loss and two sacks. Also had nine pass breakups.
  • Eddie Jackson – Six interceptions on the year, resulting in 230 yards and two pick-sixes.
  • Ryan Anderson – Six sacks on the season and 11.5 tackles for loss. Nine quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries.