Editor’s note: Coming off its fourth national championship in seven seasons, Alabama returns a ton of talent, and has a great opportunity to repeat as champions in 2016.
Over the next few weeks, SEC Country will take a look at Alabama’s 25 most important players. Obviously, there’ll be coaches and other key members around the program who’ll 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 2016.
7. Calvin Ridley
Before last season, there were serious question marks about Alabama’s receiver group. Amari Cooper left school early for the NFL after his incredible junior year, and veterans like DeAndrew White and Christion Jones had moved on.
Making matters worse, Alabama lost Robert Foster — who was emerging as the go-to receiver — three games into the season due to a shoulder injury.
Alabama needed a feature wide receiver, and they found one in Ridley. Ridley was going to play a big role even if Foster had stayed healthy, but Foster’s injury forced the true freshman to step up a little faster.
It was the Georgia game, Alabama’s fifth of the season, when Ridley exploded on the scene. Prior to Alabama’s trip to Athens, Ridley had 125 receiving yards.
But the South Florida native torched the Bulldogs for 120 yards and a touchdown on five catches, including a 50-yard bomb from Jake Coker.
Ridley went over 100 yards four times on the season. He finished the year with 89 receptions for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns.
This spring, Ridley became one of Alabama’s top return men on special teams making him even more valuable.
The challenge for Ridley this season will be avoiding the sophomore slump. With Foster, ArDarius Stewart, O.J. Howard and others, Ridley may not have to see a lot of double teams.
Look for Ridley to get in the discussion as one of the top receivers in the country this season.
He wants to be better, just like everyone else. He’s going to continue to get better. He has a drive that that’s what he wants to do, and he’s going to do it. — ArDarius Stewart on Ridley
Coming Friday: An underrated linebacker
- No. 8 O.J. Howard
- No. 9 Eddie Jackson
- No. 10 Marlon Humphrey
- No. 11 Minkah Fitzpatrick
- No. 12 Cooper Bateman/David Cornwell/Blake Barnett/Jalen Hurts
- No. 13 Robert Foster
- No. 14 Da’Shawn Hand
- No. 15 Da’Ron Payne
- No. 16 ArDarius Stewart
- No. 17 Shaun Dion Hamilton
- No. 18 Dalvin Tomlinson
- No. 19 Ronnie Harrison
- No. 20 Ross Pierschbacher
- No. 21 Lester Cotton
- No. 22 JK Scott
- No. 23 Rashaan Evans
- No. 24 Jonah Williams
- No. 25 Adam Griffith