What All Have Alabama’s Seniors Accomplished During Their Years at The Capstone?
Let me first preface this by stating this fact based opinion: this is the greatest senior class in college football history. I can't think of another class, in any sport for that matter, who have accomplished more as a cumulative group than the seniors who will be recognized this Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Including the fifth year seniors, they have been a part of three national championships (two in a row), two SEC championships, and a chance to become the first team in almost 80 years to win back-to-back-to-back national championships. There are 15 seniors on the squad that we'd like to recognize and thank for everything they've done for the University of Alabama.
- Kenny Bell - Bell has always been touted as the speed demon out wide, and I don't think he's faced a cornerback who's enjoyed running with him stride for stride. According to ESPNU, Bell was the 47th ranked WR in the recruiting class of 2009. Throughout his career, he's amassed 853 yards and 6 TDs while unfortunately being plagued by injuries. Had it not been for those setbacks, these numbers could have been doubled. He had a huge catch in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game for 26 yards that helped move the ball deep into Tiger territory which led to a FG that would put the Tide up 12-0.
- Deion Belue - Belue attended Northeast Mississippi Community College and was ranked the #7 JUCO player before joining the Tide in 2012. He started every game during the 2012 season, and was an integral part in a dominant defense that defeated a hapless Notre Dame team by 28 points. Although he doesn't have the gaudy stats some cornerbacks have, his lack of stats proves how good of a "cover corner" he is.
- Cade Foster - Where do you start with Foster? Sure he's a kicker, but he's not your typical "don't hit me" kind of kicker. There aren't many kickers out there who can put the ball on the tee, kickoff, and make the tackle. And I'm not talking about a touchdown saving tackle; I'm talking about out run everyone else down the field and lay the lumber to the kick returner. Along with kickoff duties, Foster has also been the Tide's "long field goal kicker" since committing to the Tide in 2010, hitting four 50+ yard field goals during his career at The Capstone. He's continued to progress as a kicker, and his 91.7% accuracy this season is proof of his hard work.
- John Fulton - Ranked as the #4 cornerback coming out of high school according to ESPNU, Fulton was put to work his freshman year here at Alabama. Starting off as a major special teams player, he eventually advanced to become a key contributor on the defensive side of the ball, and is now a starting cornerback on a defense that is as stingy and dominant as a Bama defense is suppose to be.
- Cody Mandell - Punters don't get the respect and love that they deserve. These guys often dictate the outcomes of many games, and Mandell is one of those punters. He's gotten better each year after walking on for the Tide, and this year he's averaging 47.3 yards per punt. When you have a special teams weapon that can move the ball literally halfway down the field, that puts the opposition in terrible field position and, subsequently, can potentially give your offense better field position. Mandell was named a Ray Guy semifinalist earlier this month, which is awarded to the nation's top punter.
- A.J. McCarron - He's a third team All-American, second team All-SEC, finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, and constant Alabama record-setting quarterback. What this young man has been able to do in his career is nothing short of spectacular. He's the SEC's leader in career win percentage at 94.6% (minimum of 30 starts) and is creeping up on the all time leader in win percentage. He also owns pretty much every relevant passing record at the University of Alabama, from career passing touchdowns to career passing yards. His pass attempt/interception ratio is unreal, too, throwing one interception out of every 73.2 pass attempts. Oh, and he has as many BCS National Championships as he does career losses as a starter. If you're ever in an argument over who the greatest Tide player ever is, McCarron could very well be the one.
- C.J. Mosley - Mosley has been a play-maker ever since joining the Tide in 2010. A consensus first team All-American, first team All-SEC, and a finalist for the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker, he's yet another elite linebacker that Nick Saban has been able to recruit and develop into a dominant player and a sort of quarterback on the defensive side of the ball. He's even approaching a record thought to be untouchable: the Alabama career tackle record held by Wayne Davis at 327 total tackles.
- Kevin Norwood - Norwood is not only one of the most underrated players in college football, but he's also one of the most clutch players. He was ranked as the #65 WR coming out of high school by ESPNU. Time and time again, Norwood has always come up with a big play. He's had more clutch catches than most receivers have normal receptions. His coming out party was in the 2012 National Championship game, when he abused whatever LSU defender that decided to cover him. He could quite possibly have the best hands out of all the receivers in Alabama history, and that is saying a lot.
- Tana Patrick - This North Jackson High School stud came to Tuscaloosa with a lot of hype and optimism. While he hasn't had a lot of playing time so far, he made what I think was the biggest play of the year for the Crimson Tide this season against LSU. The Bayou Bengals had driven down the field with relative ease, and were about to pound the ball into the endzone, but Patrick had different plans. He forced a huge fumble on Alabama's own 3 yard line, and the Tide recovered the fumble to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard.
- Anthony Steen - This young man has had the pleasure to block for some really good running backs and a pretty decent quarterback during his time at The Capstone. Steen was a part of the offensive line that helped block for Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game and just dismantled an over-matched Notre Dame defensive line. He was also a part of a group that many consider the best offensive line in college football history.
- Ed Stinson - Stinson came to Alabama as the #23 defensive end according to ESPNU, and has been a solid defensive lineman throughout his career. His efforts helped guide the Tide to a national championship the past two seasons, and he had a forced fumble in the 2011 Iron Bowl. When Alabama faced off against LSU in the National Championship, Stinson was one of the starters that held the LSU offense to only 92 total offensive yards.
- Kellen Williams - Williams came out of high school as the #35 ranked player in the state of Georgia. He suffered a major knee injury in 2009, which forced him to redshirt. After his recovery, he saw some well deserved playing time throughout the 2011 season. Since then, he has been a solid offensive lineman, and always pushes the other linemen to become better each day.
- Matt Tinney, Ty Reed, Tyler Bass - While these guys don't get the recognition that some of the other players do, they've played an important role in the success of this class. Practice squad members have the responsibility to push the starters and provide the competition to get the team ready to play each and every week.