5 toughest Alabama players to replace in 2016
Thanks to Alabama, the SEC is back on top of the college football heap.
The Crimson Tide capped a 14-1 season with a 45-40 victory over Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship game Monday night.
But Bama also had several outstanding players who won’t be back in 2016.
Let’s take a look at the five toughest players for the Crimson Tide to replace:
1. C Ryan Kelly: The Rimington Trophy winner as the nation’s top center had quite the year in 2015. Not only did his blocking help Derrick Henry rush for 100 yards nine times and 200 yards a school-record four times, but the 6-foot-5, 297-pounder did not allow a sack and surrendered only four QB hurries this season. Sophomore J.C. Hassenauer – who has played in just eight games – looks to step in for the three-year starter and the top-rated center prospect in this year’s NFL draft.
2. LB Reggie Ragland: The SEC Defensive Player of the Year had a team-high 102 tackles this season as the leader of Alabama’s defense. He’s also the top-rated inside linebacker prospect who could very well be replaced by teammate Reuben Foster – the Crimson Tide’s second-leading tackler with 73 – if he doesn’t make himself available for the draft.
3. DL A’Shawn Robinson: The 6-foot-4, 312-pounder was a disruptive force for the Tide in 2015 as he finished with 46 tackles – including 7.5 for a loss – while adding 10 quarterback hurries, 3.5 sacks, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. They’re impressive numbers for the top-rated defensive tackle prospect.
4. RB Derrick Henry: The 2015 Heisman winner earned the trophy by rushing for 2,219 yards and 28 TDs, both FBS highs. The No. 2-rated running back could be replaced by Bo Scarbrough or Damien Harris.
5. QB Jacob Coker: He couldn’t beat out Jameis Winston at Florida State. He couldn’t beat out Blake Sims at Alabama in 2014. He had to watch Cooper Bateman start over him in this season’s only loss to Ole Miss. But Coker’s patience and persistence paid off in a big way as he led Alabama to its fourth national title in the last seven seasons. He is living proof that good things come to those who wait. And now he’ll need to be replaced.