Editor’s note: Alabama football returns a ton of talent, and has a great opportunity to make another run at the SEC championship and earn a College Football Playoff berth.
Over the next few weeks, SEC Country will take a look at Alabama’s 25 most important players. Obviously, there will be coaches and other key members around the program who will have a big impact on the team’s success. But this list is strictly for the top-25 players for the Crimson Tide heading into 2017.
No. 10 Calvin Ridley
If history has shown us anything with Alabama football, it’s that Calvin Ridley is due for a huge junior season similar to Julio Jones and Amari Cooper before him.
Like Jones and Cooper, Ridley had a sensational freshman season before experiencing something of a sophomore slump.
Ridley had 72 catches for 769 yards and 7 touchdowns last season. His reception and yardage totals were both down from his freshman year. Through two seasons, Ridley has 1,814 receiving yards and 14 touchdown receptions.
Following the 2016 season, Ridley worked to get stronger and become a better leader. Both things showed during the spring, as Ridley put on more muscle and then caught 4 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown during Alabama’s A-Day spring game.
ArDarius Stewart is gone, but Robert Foster, Cam Sims and some of Alabama’s freshman receivers should help take some of the pressure of Ridley so he can have a big season in what will surely be his last in Tuscaloosa.
“I would say I’m now the leader of the wide receiver group,” Ridley said. “I want to take that role on and not only to my group but my team, and be one of the captains on the team. That’s what I feel like I need to do.”
Here are the numbers posted by Jones, Cooper and Ridley during their Alabama careers:
- 2008: 14 games, 58 catches, 924 yards, 15.9 average, 4 TDs
- 2009: 13 games, 43 catches, 596 yards, 13.9 average, 4 TDs
- 2010: 13 games, 78 catches, 1,133 yards, 14.5 average, 7 TDs
- 2012: 14 games, 59 catches, 1,000 yards, 16.9 average, 11 TDs
- 2013: 11 games, 45 catches, 736 yards, 16.4 average, 4 TDs
- 2014: 14 games, 124 catches, 1,727 yards, 13.9 average, 16 TDs
- 2015: 15 games, 89 catches, 1,045 yards, 11.7 average, 7 TDs
- 2016: 15 games, 72 catches, 769 yards, 10.7 average, 7 TDs
Coming Tuesday: A hard-hitting safety.
SEC Country’s Top 25 Alabama football players:
- No. 11: A versatile linebacker
- No. 12: A veteran wide receiver
- No. 13: A key special teams player
- No. 14: An elite defensive lineman
- No. 15: A junior college transfer
- No. 16: A powerful offensive lineman
- No. 17: A young player changing positions
- No. 18: An experienced offensive lineman
- No. 19: A new sack artist
- No 20: A powerful linebacker
- No. 21: A young, explosive linebacker
- No. 22: An inexperienced offensive lineman
- No. 23: A veteran safety
- No. 24: Two talented freshmen
- No. 25: Tide hope he’s ‘special’