Friday, August 27, 2010

2010 Pre-Season All Mack Team

With the season less than a week from kicking off, I have decided against my better judgment to name the 2010 All Mack Team for the pre-season. Just to be clear on the criteria, this is THE team that I would choose if I had one game to play and win if my life depended on it. And with that, here is the 2010 Pre-Season All Mack Team.


QB - Christian Ponder - Florida St.

This guy is an interesting case. Seems like he's been at FSU forever, and I think minus a couple of bad breaks he could easily been mentioned in the same circles as the Ryan Mallets and Jake Lockers of the world. I think with the new regime at FSU (although they did do Bobby wrong), this will be a breakout year for Ponder. Think Chris Weinke's Heisman Trophy season.

Honorable mention: Ryan Mallet (Arkansas), Jake Locker (Washington), Jacory Harris (Miami), Andrew Luck (Stanford), Case Keenum (Houston)

RB - Mark Ingram - Alabama

Aside from the fact that this guy is the reigning Heisman trophy winner, he just gets it. He's a ball player through and through. He always seems to show up at the right time, whether it's in pass protection or taking a 2 yard dumpoff 73 yards. Last season, he had over 1000 yards rushing AFTER CONTACT. Absolutely amazing.

RB - Noel Devine - West Virginia

He made this team last season and righfully so, he makes it again this year. Probably the most explosive and exciting player to watch in all of college football. His juke & jerk running style is reminiscent of Barry Sanders and his break away speed rivals that of Bo Jackson. I'm looking for big things from Noel this season.

Honorable Mention: Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon St.), Trent Richardson (Alabama), Ryan Williams (VaTech), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma St.)

WR - A.J. Green - Georgia

Todd McShay just called him the best player in all of college football. And if you've ever watched AJ play, it's kind of tough to put many holes in that argument. He meant everything to his team offensively last season. He has soft hands, more than adequate separation speed, great leaping ability, and he runs crisp routes. I'm not sure what more you may want from your #1 WR.

WR - Michael Floyd - Notre Dame

I went on record last season and called this guy the real deal. Had he not gotten hurt, Jimmy Clausen would've probably gone higher in the draft than he did and Charle Weis would still be Notre Dame's head coach. But as the saying goes, if IF was a 5th, we'd all be effed up (hammered, drunk, smashed, etc.). Either way, this guy has all the tools. I'm not too sure what starting QB Dayne Crist will do, but I do know that Brian Kelly's offense should make Floyd a household name this fall.

WR - Julio Jones - Alabama

After a superb freshman season, Julio ran into the proverbial sophomore slump in terms of numbers. But based on the criteria for this list, I don't know if I'd want any other football player, let alone a WR, more than Julio if my life depended on it. In two of Alabama's toughest games last season (LSU & Auburn), it was Julio that was the difference in both of them, taking a bubble screen 50+ yards for a TD against LSU and turning into a possession receiver and catching 5 short passes converting them for 1st downs on the decisive game winning drive against Auburn. In addition to that, Julio can also be credited with great downfield block for last year's Heisman Trophy Winner.

Honorable Mention: James Rodgers (Oregon), Darvin Adams (Auburn), Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma), Greg Childs (Arkansas)

TE - D.J. Williams - Arkansas

It seems to me like this guy has been at Arkansas forever. Before Mallet. Before Petrino. And he's been a terror in the middle of the field since before they had a real passing threat. Arm him with a mammoth QB with a laser arm and a head coach/offensive coordinator hell-bent on throwing the ball 50 times a game, and in DJ Williams you have the college version of Tony Gonzalez.

Honorable Mention: Kyle Rudolph (Notre Dame), Luke Stocker (Tennessee), Dwayne Allen (Clemson), Wesley Saunders (S. Carolina)**

T- Gabe Carimi - Wisconsin

T - Bo Thran - Oregon

Both of these guys are big, aggresive and have good feet.

Honorable Mention: Lee Ziemba (Auburn), Marcus Cannon (TCU), Demarcus Love (Arkansas)

C - Mike Pouncey - Florida

Probably the undisputed leader of the team now that Tim Tebow, Brandon Spikes, and his twin brother Maurkice have departed for the NFL's greener pastures. He's been the stout centerpiece of the offensive line at Florida for the past 2 seasons and I see him continuing that this season.

Honorable Mention: William Vlachos (Alabama), Ben Jones (Georgia), Kristofer O'dowd (USC)

G - Rodney Hudson - Florida St.

Considered by many the best offensive lineman in college football going into the season, Hudson is the perfect combination of size, agility, strength, speed, and intelligence. He has received All-ACC honors his previous 3 seasons at FSU and is on the verge of becoming the most decorated offensive lineman in Florida St. history.

G - Thomas Claiborne - Boston College

Another intelligent road grader at the guard position. He led a line last season that blocked for a back who ran the rock 308 times (4th most nationally).

Honorable Mention: Barrett Jones (Alabama), Bryant Browning (Ohio St.), Alan Pelc (North Carolina), Ryan Miller (Colorado), Carl Johnson (Florida)


DE - Marcel Dareus - Alabama

Probably the best kept secret in college football until last year's national championship game. Everyone in the state of Alabama who has watched Marcel since his high school days, knows that he's virtually unblockable. A rare combination of size, strength, agility, and speed, Marcel is Alabama highest rated NFL prospect (over the likes of Mark Ingram and Julio Jones).

DE - Adrian Clayborn - Iowa

I can't quite put a finger on who this guy reminds me of. He's big, ripped to shreds, and has a mean streak on the field that's unmatched. He's an absolute terror any opposing QB and looks to put Iowa in serious contension to win the Big 10 this season.

Honorable Mention: Sam Acho (Texas), Allen Bailey (Miami), Greg Quinn (UNC)

DT - Sam Acho (Texas)

This guy is so good and versatile that he's listed as both DT and DE. Texas's defense under Will Muschamp has been stellar and I don't see it being any different this season with Acho anchoring.

Honorable Mention: Marvin Austin (UNC), Jared Crick (Nebraska), Jarvis Jenkins (Clemson)

LB - Dont'a Hightower - Alabama
There's been many whisperings that last year's Heisman Trophy winner wasn't even the best running back on his own team. Well, last year's Butkus Award winner,Rolando McClain, may not have been the best linebacker on the team, either. That distinction probably would've gone to Dont'a Hightower had his season not been cut short by a nasty knee injury against Arkansas. This season, Dont'a is the undisputed man on defense. He can play every linebacker position and even some defensive end. Look for Dont'a to have a special season.

LB - Greg Jones - Michigan St.
Two words for this guy: Tackling Machine...the end..that's all you need to know.

LB - Josh Bynes - Auburn
When I watch this guy play, two former Alabama linebackers, ironically, come to mind. Saleem Rasheed and Brooks Daniels. Josh is not the biggest guy, but he has a nose for the ball. And typically when he gets to you, you go down. If not, he has enough strength to hold on until the rest of his teammates arrive. He's a gamer, and a playmaker.

LB - Kelvin Sheppard - LSU
A bigger, faster version of Josh Bynes. He very rarely misses tackles and because he's so good in the open field, it allows John Chavis to take more chances with his guys up front.

Honorable Mention: Quan Sturdivant (UNC), Greg Lloyd (UConn), Tank Carder (TCU), Bruce Carter (UNC), Sean Spence (Miami), Akeem Ayers (UCLA)

CB - Patrick Peterson - LSU
Without question the closest thing to a shutdown corner as there has been in college football for a long time. Size, speed, fluidity in the hips, great feet, great vertical, and a solid tackler. The only thing he's missing is soft hands. But then again, that's why he's a DB and not a WR. He's my first pick at DB for any team I'm choosing this year.

CB - Stephon Gilmore - South Carolina
I like Gilmore's style. He has the mindset to be a great DB. I've seen him get beat on a play and get up acting as if he'd made a pick 6. In addition to his mindset, he also has the physical tools to be one of the best in the country.

Honorable Mention: Jenoris Jenkins (Florida), Brandon Harris (Miami), Chimdi Chekwa (Ohio St.), Rashad Carmichael (VaTech), Aaron Williams (Texas)

S - Mark Barron - Alabama
When you're on the same team with Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Dont'a Hightower, and you're deferred to as the best overall athlete on the team regardless of position,you're definitely worth keeping an eye on. Coming into last season having to replace the heart & soul of Alabama's defense Rashad Johnson, Barron filled in nicely leading the SEC in interceptions with 7. This season, he takes over as one of the leaders on a defense that lost 9 starters.

S - Rahim Moore - UCLA
Probably the best returning safety in the country. Led the nation last year with 10 interceptions. And ranked second in the country in passes defended. A fast ranger defender who can cover a lot of ground on the backside of a defense.

Honorable Mention: Jeron Johnson (Boise St.), Blake Gideon (Texas), Quinton Carter (Oklahoma), Jermale Hines (Ohio St.), Will Hill (Florida), Ahmad Black (Florida)


K - Grant Ressel - Missouri
Emerged last season from virtual obscurity to being named an All-American by most services at the end of last season. Has a big leg and is accurate (was 96.3% accurate last season). On top of that, he has ice water running through his veins as he displayed against Mizzou's arch-rival Kansas last season on his game winning field goal with no time remaining.

Honorable Mention: Wes Byrum (Auburn), Blair Walsh (Georgia), Joe Phillips (Utah), Kevin Goessling (Fresno St.), Kai Forbath (UCLA)

P - Chas Henry - Florida
Not really much to say other than this guy can pin you so far back into your endzone that you're in the endzone when you take your snap...and he can do it on a consistent basis. He was as much a part of Florida's success over the past few seasons as Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes. He's the closest thing to a big name punter outside the Colquitt dynasty at Tennessee.

Honorable Mention: Rob Long (Syracuse), Peter Caldwell (Utah State), Drew Butler (Georgia)

KR/PR - T.Y. Hilton - Florida International
I got a chance to see this guy up close & personal last season and he's a PURE threat to score every time he touches the ball. I have him here for both punt returner and kick returner, but he's also an offensive threat! He's not the biggest guy in the world, but you won't find too many football players who are better.

Honorable Mention: Derrick Locke (Kentucky), Dennis Johnson (Arkansas), Warren Norman (Vanderbilt), Brandon Boykin (Georgia), Chris Owusu (Stanford)

Friday, August 13, 2010

22 (Mark Ingram) days from Kickoff

And we're 22...22 Mark Ingram days away from the kickoff of college football. And today we salute Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. Coming in with a highly touted signing class that featured the likes of Julio Jones, Terrence Cody, Dont'a Hightower, Mark Barron, and BJ Scott, Ingram wasn't an afterthought, but nobody could have predicted what he has done in just 2 short years at Bama. In just 2 seasons, he's managed to be put himself in the conversation of the best players to ever play in Tuscaloosa (that's saying a mouthful). Enjoy!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

23 (Robby Green) Days Until Kickoff

And we're 23...23 days away from the kickoff of Alabama football. I'm taking this time to show Robby Green some love. Since he, unfortunately, is ineligible to play this season, this will probably be the last time you hear from him this season. I was expecting huge things from Robby this season, but unfortunately it'll have to wait until next year. Looking forward to it. Shouts out to you, Robby.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

24 (Waine Bacon) Days Until Kickoff

Yeah...So I couldn't find any footage of Waine. I couldn't find any footage of a #24 from an earlier era (Tony Dixon) and I could've found some stuff on the latest #24 (Marquis Johnson), but that would've been too easy. Last year, as I was doing my countdown, I gave a spot to all teams as to remain unbiased. So in this spot last year, I had Carnell "Cadillac" Williams. And he's the easy pick for this one too. But I'm thinking I may keep the countdown Crimson this year. We'll videos...just a shout out to Waine Bacon.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

25 (Rolando McClain) Days from Kickoff

And we are 25...25 days away from the kickoff of college football. And today we salute the latest in the long line of Alabama greats at the linebacker position. When Rolando showed up on campus, I had a problem with his tackling form. He used his arms more than he did his body to bring a defender down. But what won me over was his effort in the 2007 loss to Auburn (our LAST loss to Auburn by the way). The game was virtually over. At least from watching the effort of some of the seniors you would think that the game was over. But McClain played his heart if the game really meant something to him. I knew then that this passion (as you'll see at the 2:39 mark of the 2nd video below) coupled with his rare combination of size, speed, agility, strength, and just flat out high football IQ would make him one of the best to ever wear Crimson. Here's Ro in all his splendor


Monday, August 9, 2010

26 (Bobby Humphrey) Days Until Kickoff

And we're 26..26 Bobby Humphrey days away from the kickoff of College Football. Today, we pay homage to Bobby Humphrey, one of the best running backs to ever wear Crimson. With Penn St. back on our schedule this season, I decided to post the video of the 1987 Bama vs. Penn St. game where Humphrey pulled off one of the greatest individual runs I've ever seen. Also in this video, you'll see the late, great Derrick Thomas and Sigma Man, Lamonde Russell (SU' 89,Theta Delta Chapter). In an ironic twist, it was Penn St. who was coming off a National Championship season and Bama visiting Happy Valley. This season, Bama's coming off of a national championship and Penn St. is visiting the Capstone. Hopefully Bama can get a W this season.

As a bonus, I wanted to show some love to the 28 and 27 guys that passed through over the weekend: Javier Arenas (28) and Siran Stacey (27).

Javier came to Alabama to play for Mike Shula at a time when nobody else wanted Arenas. Nobody had ever heard of the guy when his named first popped up on Bama's radar, but as soon as he stepped on the field as a freshman return man, you could see that he was just a football player. Fast forward 4 years, and he's not only one of the best Bama players in recent memory, but he's also made his mark in NCAA history. His knack for always being able to bring a spark to the team through his return ability as well as on defense will be sorely missed at Alabama.

As far as Siran Stacey is concerned, nothing that he has ever done on the field will surpass what he's been able to do as a man, as a human being. Being dealt one of the toughest hands in life that anyone could be dealt and turning it into a positive. 3 years later, it's still just as heartbreaking and gut wrenching to read about. I cannot fathom, nor do I ever want to know experience such a thing. Not enough can be said about the measure of a man that he is.

Friday, August 6, 2010

2009 Pre-Season All Mack Team in Review (Offense)

As they say, hindsight is always 20/20. Last season, I embarked on a meaningless journey of naming the first ever pre-season All-Mack team. In the early part of the season, I made the Sports Illustrated cover look like a 4-leaf clover as all of my guys it seemed were either getting hurt or having down seasons. Here is the 2009 pre-season All-Mack team in review:


QB - Tim Tebow, Florida - After winning 2 national titles, and being touted as possibly the best college football player of all time, Tebow's sole mission was to come back for a chance at going undefeated, which he'd never done. He suffered a nasty and scary looking concussion against Kentucky and it pretty much spiraled down from there. The only time after that game that he looked like himself was in the Cincinnati game in the Sugar Bowl. Every other game, he looked very timid and less wreckless. Nobody will convince me that he wasn't rushed back before he was ready. As the season would have it, he threw 9 fewer TDs than 1 more INT and he was sacked more times in 2009 (29) than he was sacked in the previous 2 seasons (28). Seeing as how, win or lose, Tebow's senior season was nothing more than a final victory lap, I'd like to call last season a success. But since he didn't get his ultimate goal, maybe not.

HB - Jahvid Best, Cal - This was supposed to be Jahvid's finest hour. But he wound up missing the final 5 games of his college career due to quite possibly the scariest looking head/neck injury I've ever seen. When this injury occured I felt terrible for even picking him on the team. So if there's no pre-season All-Mack team this year, Jahvid Best is the reason why.

HB - Noel Devine, West Virginia - This is one that I got right. With Steve Slaton and Pat White both gone and not taking carries from him, Devine turned in his best season as a collegiate, racking up 1465 yards on the ground and 13 TDs. Here's a look back at Devine's 2009 campaign.

WR - Julio Jones, Alabama - With his breakout freshman season, no receiver in the country had higher expectations. And while, individually, Julio had a solid year, by his standards, it was a down year. This was mostly due to nagging injuries that kept him relegated to one side of the field as he couldn't cut in certain directions. Where he thrived though, was blocking up the field for his classmate, teammate, and 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. Julio's defining moment of the 2009 season, though, was stepping up big time against hated in-state rival, Auburn. Trailing late in the 4th quarter and with Ingram on the sideline dinged up, Julio Jones became the ultimate possession receiver hauling in a number of short passes and keeping the chains moving. And even though Julio's year was down individually, any time your team wins a national championship, it can't be all that bad.

WR - Arrelious Benn, Illinois - This guy was an absolute enigma all season long. Much of it had to do with inconsistent play from the QB position, but Benn had his worst year as a collegian, hauling in only 38 passes for 490 yards. A bad season all the way around. I would love to show highlights, but there's really nothing to show. Benn had an awful season.

TE - Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma - Gresham's season was non-existent. He had a season ending knee injury in fall camp and never took the field in 2009. But on the strength of his performances in previous seasons, he still wound up being a 1st round draft pick for the Cincinnati Bengals. So it worked out for him.

OT - Ciron Black, LSU -Black was voted first team All-SEC post-season, but many observers, including LSU fans, didn't think he was deserving. I tend to agree with them. He, as many college tackles do, had struggles with the speed rush. And his run blocking was just ok. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and moved to Guard.

OG - Mike Johnson, Alabama - Big Mike had a stellar season. He was the unquestioned leader of an offensive line that wound up winning the national championship and that didn't get called for a holding penalty all season long after the 2nd quarter of the 5th game of the season against Kentucky. He wound up signing with the Atlanta Falcons. Great season for Johnson.

C - Kristofer O'Dowd, USC - O'Dowd was all set to anchor a team that was vying to reclaim dominance in the Pac-10 and catapult back into the National title picture. But a series of crazy situations surrounding the program, coupled with this explanation from USC's official site, killed it all for him.

But he was slowed throughout the season by injuries, seeing action in just 8 games (starting 7). He missed the San Jose State opener after dislocating his right kneecap in 2009 fall camp, then started USC's next 5 games (Ohio State, Washington, Washington State, California, Notre Dame) before a sore shoulder and the lingering effects of his pre-season knee injury sidelined him for the next 3 contests (Oregon State, Oregon, Arizona State). He saw brief action against Stanford, didn't play versus UCLA and returned to the starting lineup against Arizona and Boston College. He missed 2009 spring drills while recuperating from shoulder surgery.

OG - Brandon Carter, Texas Tech -Speaking of crazy events, nothing could have been worse for Brandon Carter and the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Their coach wound up being fired over the way he handled certain situations, and it divided the locker room as well as the fan base & alumni. This was a no win situation for everybody. Terrible season for Carter and Texas Tech.

OT - John Jerry, Ole Miss - Before last season, America had annointed Ole Miss as the next big thing, the same way they're doing Arkansas this year (hilarious!!). As it turned out, Ole Miss's entire season was a complete flop, going 8-4 overall, 4-4 in the conference, and finishing 3rd in the SEC's Western division. Jerry, individually, had a pretty decent season, though. He wound up getting drafted by the Dolphins, getting moved to Right Guard, and he's gotten pretty good reviews thus far.

So I'll say that overall, the 2009 Pre-Season All-Mack Offensive team had a horrendous season with a bright spot here and there.
Defense & Special Teams review coming next week.

29 (Dennis Riddle) Days until Kickoff

Annnnnd so...We're back with the countdown. A little late this year but who cares, right? Today I honor one of the most underrated teams players in the history of the Crimson Tide. This wasn't Dennis's best game, but it was clearly his finest hour. The vision & body control on this play are unreal.