Alabama enters the College Football Playoff with the chance to cement a legacy not only as back-to-back champions, but one of the great teams in college football history.
We continue our countdown of the top 10 players who got Alabama to this point. With Alabama’s talent, any number of players could make this list. Give us your own on Twitter or our Alabama Insiders Facebook page.
No. 5 WR ArDarius Stewart
Why he’s here: Early in the season, Stewart made news when he appeared on the sideline holding a large Alabama-branded axe after exiting the Ole Miss game with a concussion. Stewart explained that the axe was meant to symbolize a wide receiver corps of assassins. In reality, the dual tool/weapon looked like a workman’s implement. It symbolized Stewart as much as anything — hard-working and potentially lethal.
Other than Jalen Hurts, perhaps no skill position player has been as important to the Lane Kiffin offense as Stewart. Along with Calvin Ridley, Stewart has been a favored target for the jet-sweep and short-pass plays designed to stretch opposing defenses. With his vision and athleticism, Stewart has the ability to stretch these frequently-doomed plays into touchdowns.
— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) November 12, 2016
Stewart has recorded a career-high 852 yards on 52 receptions this season, averaging 16.4 yards per reception and scoring 8 touchdowns. That only encapsulates a portion of his contribution to Alabama’s offense this season. Stewart has added some truly lockdown blocking to his repertoire, leading the way on short passes and runs out of wideout formations.
This is why I like ArDarius Stewart as a football player. Watch the block on the middle linebacker after the catch. pic.twitter.com/QmiOatI6t1
— Travis Reier (@travisreier) May 12, 2016
And now, the former Fultondale High quarterback might even be the fourth name on the Crimson Tide’s quarterback depth chart.
What’s ahead in 2017
As a junior receiver, Stewart could apply for early draft status, but likely would receive a third-day, “come back” grade in his evaluation. If he does return to Alabama, fans would be treated to a third season of Stewart and Calvin Ridley leading the receiving corps, likely with a more experienced Jalen Hurts behind center. While Robert Foster and Cam Sims are those players’ nominal backups, it’s high profile freshmen like Trevon Diggs and Xavian Marks, both of whom have seen special teams action, who will draw most of the attention for the future.
Alabama Top 10 players
No. 10: DB Anthony Averett
No. 9: LT Cam Robinson
No. 8: FS Ronnie Harrison
No. 7: OLB Tim Williams
No. 6: LB Ryan Anderson
No. 5: WR ArDarius Stewart