Alabama's All-Decade Team: Tua Tagovailoa leads star-studded offense
Editor’s note: Saturday Down South has selected an all-decade offensive and defensive team for all 14 SEC programs. Our series starts in the SEC West with Alabama. Later Monday: Alabama’s All-Decade Defense.
When you look at Alabama’s decade of dominance, the numbers are shocking.
- 113-15, an .883 winning percentage
- 35 players winning 38 1st-team All-American honors, with Mark Barron, Barrett Jones and Minkah Fitzpatrick each being honored twice
- 34 offensive players taken in the NFL Draft
- 5 SEC championships
- 4 national championships
Picking a 1st-team Crimson Tide All-Decade team is a daunting one, without question. Several players that end up being backups would have been All-SEC talents on other teams.
The criteria for this is simple: It’s all about what each player did at Alabama, from the 2010 season through the 2019 season. NFL careers are irrelevant, and longevity doesn’t matter.
Without further adieu, here is Saturday Down South’s Alabama Crimson Tide All-Decade Offense:
QB: Tua Tagovailoa
Why: Arguably the most dynamic player in Alabama history, Tagovailoa rewrote the Alabama record book during his time in Tuscaloosa. Even with his junior season cut short due to injury in 2019, Alabama’s sweet Hawaiian prince threw for 2,840 yards and 33 touchdowns. In 2018, Tagovailoa passed for 3,966 yards and a program-record 43 touchdowns to finish as a Heisman Trophy runner-up. Ends up 3rd in career passing yards with 7,442 and 1st with 87 career TD passes despite playing less than 2 seasons as a starter.
Need more reasons? How about 2nd-and-26 as a true freshman?
Backup: AJ McCarron
Why: McCarron beats out Jalen Hurts, partially because he was an All-American in 2013 and also because he won a national title as a starting QB in 2012 — though Hurts started the 2017 game that Tagovailoa finished. A tremendously close call.
RB: Derrick Henry
Why: Henry won the school’s second Heisman Trophy (Mark Ingram, 2009) as part of a national championship season in 2015 — a season that saw Henry rush for an SEC-record 2,219 yards on 395 attempts. Henry also rushed for a school-record 28 TDs. Holds Alabama career rushing record with 3,591 yards on only 602 carries (Shaun Alexander went for 3,565 yards on 727 carries).
Backup: Trent Richardson
Why: Put together a Heisman-worthy season in 2011 (he finished 3rd), going for 1,679 yards on 283 carries and 21 touchdowns.
TE: O.J Howard
Why: With the most receptions by an Alabama TE in back-to-back seasons, Howard was a force in Crimson. As a junior in 2015, Howard had 38 catches for 602 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a senior in 2016, he had 45 receptions for 595 yards and 3 TDs.
When asked about Howard’s role in the offense after the 2016 season, Saban said, “O.J., quite honestly, should have been more involved all year long.”
Backup: Michael Williams
Why: Williams was a solid piece of Alabama’s back-to-back BCS title teams in 2011 and 2012, and graduated with 51 receptions for 503 yards and 7 touchdowns.
WR: Julio Jones
Why: Even with 2 of his 3 seasons in Tuscaloosa coming in the previous decade, Jones was so good that he needed only one year in this decade to make the team. As a junior in 2010, Jones caught 78 passes for 1,133 yards and 7 touchdowns. Finished his college career with 2,653 receiving yards.
Backup: Calvin Ridley
Why: While it is insane that Ridley is a backup to anyone, especially as his 2,781 career receiving yards rank him just a smidge above Jones, Ridley benefitted from coming after Jones — who was a part of Nick Saban’s trailblazing first full recruiting class that changed Alabama football forever.
WR: Amari Cooper
Why: Holds the school records for receptions (228), single-season yards (1,727, on an insane SEC-record 124 receptions in 2014), career yards (3,463) and receiving touchdowns (31), Cooper was a machine for Alabama during his tenure.
Backup: Henry Ruggs III
Why: Ruggs would be a 1st-teamer on the 13 other SEC teams, as he caught 96 passes for 1,689 yards and 24 touchdowns in his 3-year career at Alabama.
WR: Jerry Jeudy
Why: Jeudy went off as a sophomore in 2018, catching 63 passes for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns as the Tide went 14-1. His junior season in 2019 saw 3 more receptions than the 2018 total, giving him 153 career grabs for 2,538 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns.
Backup: DeVonta Smith
Why: Like Ruggs, could be interchangeable with Jeudy on the 1st team. Smith broke school records for single-game receptions (11), single game receiving yards (274) and single-game receiving TDs (5) against Ole Miss this season, and will head to the NFL with 115 catches for 2,053 yards and 22 TDs.
LT: Cam Robinson
Why: Robinson started all 14 games as a true freshman, the first true freshman to do so since Andre Smith in 2006. Over 861 total snaps in his 3-year career, Robinson gave up just 3 QB sacks. He was part of an offensive line that gave up just 1.14 sacks per game, which ranked 14th nationally, while blocking for 484.5 yards of total offense per game.
Backup: Cyrus Kouandjio
Why: As a junior in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame, Alabama repeatedly ran to the left behind Kouandjio, contributing to 265 net yards rushing and 5.9 yards per rush.
LG: Chance Warmack
Why: As a sophomore in 2010, Warmack replaced All-American Mike Johnson in the starting lineup and opened all 13 contests at left guard. Started 13 games as a junior and helped the Tide to win the 2011 BCS national title. Came back for his senior season and won his 3rd national championship ring in 2012 while starting all 13 games.
Backup: Lester Cotton
Why: A local product who moved to left guard as a senior after starting 18 games at right guard in his first three seasons.
C: Barrett Jones
Why: Besides Jones being the only Alabama player in a decade to be an All-American at 2 different positions (he was an All-American offensive tackle in 2011 and again as a center in 2012). Won the 2011 Outland Trophy and won the 2012 Rimington Trophy (outstanding college center) — becoming only the 2nd person in history to win both an Outland and a Rimington.
Backup: Ryan Kelly
Why: Kelly was highly reliable anchor on the offensive line, missing just 7 assignments in 806 snaps as a junior in 2014. In his senior season, Kelly missed only 8 assignments in 1,012 snaps for a success rate of 99.2 percent on the season and won the 2015 Rimington Award.
RG: Anthony Steen
Why: Steen became a starter in 2011 as a sophomore, and as a junior started in all 14 games — becoming the only member of the offensive line that did not record a penalty or allow a sack in the 2012 season.
Backup: Arie Kouandjio
Why: Kouandjio preceded his younger brother Cyrus to Alabama, and started all 13 games as a junior in 2013. Kouandjio returned for his senior year in 2014, starting all 14 games and was named a second team All-American.
RT: Jonah Williams
Why: An Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award finalist as a junior in 2018, Williams secured the starting right tackle spot as a freshman and moved to left tackle as a sophomore, earning All-America recognition. He started every game of his Alabama career – racking up 44 consecutive starts (29 at left tackle, 15 at right tackle).
Why: As a sophomore in 2012, Fluker started all 13 games for the Crimson Tide at right tackle on their way to the BCS title victory over LSU. As a junior in 2013, Fluker started all 14 games at right tackle as Alabama repeated as champs by whipping Notre Dame.