LSU-Alabama showdown a hotbed for future NFL talent
There will likely be many NFL scouts among those in attendance at Bryant-Denny Stadium this weekend to watch Saturday’s showdown between LSU and Alabama. The game will have serious ramifications on the rest of the SEC season and feature plenty of potential NFL talent.
Four players who will play in Saturday’s game were listed as first-round picks in the midseason mock draft by Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller.
LSU coach Les Miles said NFL scouts should flock to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to watch some of the country’s finest athletes.
“I would think if you were an NFL scout and you had any wisdom to you at all, that you would line up and get the LSU and Alabama game and (how well) they fared,” Miles said.
Of course, the two biggest names in Saturday’s game will be the running backs. Alabama’s Derrick Henry and LSU’s Leonard Fournette will define this year’s showdown. These incredible running backs are among the best in the game, but one of them won’t hear his name called by the commissioner until the 2017 NFL Draft.
Fournette has taken the college landscape by storm during his sophomore season. He leads the nation with an average of 193.1 rushing yards per game and became the first SEC tailback to rush for 200 yards in three consecutive games. Fournette currently stands as the overwhelming favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.
Miles said the sky will be the limit for his star tailback on Saturday afternoon.
“I would take all that off his plate and just talk about victory and do the things that he needs to do to help his team win, and really just run the plays that we call, and he’ll have every opportunity to achieve at the very highest level,” Miles said.
Henry has quietly had a prolific season. The bruising tailback ranks 12th in the country with an average of 130.5 rushing yards and entered the week tied for third in the nation with 14 rushing touchdowns.
Miles said that Henry will be at the forefront of LSU’s defensive game plan Saturday night.
“He’s a very good back,” Miles said. “He’s big and strong. He’s going to be somebody our defense is going to have to focus on and make sure that there’s some helmets around him.”
The talent will be evident on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium on both sides of the ball. LSU’s Tre White has been one of the premier defensive backs in the country, while offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins could be a future anchor on an NFL line.
Alabama also has a couple of studs on defense. Reggie Ragland could become the next great Alabama inside linebacker to make it big in the NFL, and defensive lineman Jarran Reed has the potential to blossom into an incredibly talented plug in the middle of the defensive line.
There may be plenty of future NFL pros roaming the field on Saturday night and even more talent evaluators packing the stands to watch them. But Saturday night’s outcome will be determined by two of the best halfbacks in the country.