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Where Are They Now: Former Alabama Players in the NFL?

To win one national title is great, but to achieve three in a four year span is amazing. For the Alabama Crimson Tide and head coach Nick Saban, they continue to achieve success and reign supreme in college football by recruiting the best players that give them the opportunity to be great.  

In his six-year tenure at Alabama, Saban has recruited players that have changed the face of college football. From dominating lineman and powerful running backs to exciting receivers and leaders at the quarterback position, the Crimson Tide has had it all. Though the dominance is now starting to hit its peak, it wouldn’t have happened if the Tide didn’t bring in Saban and the players that started the turnaround for title town in 2007.

Alabama’s struggles in 2007 in trying to buy into Saban’s system, have now led to three national titles, two Southeastern Conferences titles, a Heisman Trophy winner and a defense that has been tops in the SEC and the nation in five of the six years under Saban.  Here are the players that began the process to greatness for the Crimson Tide.


·         Terrence Cody (#62)

o   With his frame of 6 feet and 4 inches tall weighing 400 pounds at the time, Cody was known as the man in the middle. He was a devastating presence to opposing offensive lineman in his ability to move quickly off the ball and stuff running backs in the backfield.

o   In 2008 and 2009 combined, he had 51 tackles and a forced fumble.

o   Along with defense, he was used offensively as a fullback in red-zone situation paving the way for running backs to score.

o   His shining moment came inside of Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2009 against the Tennessee Volunteers. He blocked two Daniel Lincoln field goals and instead of losing 16-12, Alabama won 12-10 and rode that victory into the 2010 BCS National Championship Game.

o   Consensus All-American (2008, 2009)

o   SEC title (2009)

o   BCS title (2009 season)


·         Marcell Dareus (#57)

o   Alabama had a true pass rusher in Dareus.

o   He had 66 total tackles, 10.5 sacks, and one interception in his time with the Tide.

o   He had two huge moments, both coming in the 2010 BCS Championship Game against Texas. The first moment was when he knocked out and injured quarterback Colt McCoy in the first quarter. The second one was when he intercepted Garret Gilbert’s shovel passes and powered his way into the end-zone.

o   SEC title (2009)

o   BCS title (2009 season)

o   2010 BCS Championship Game Defensive MVP


·         Rolando McClain (#25)

o   It was like having a coach on the field defensively for Alabama with McClain on the team.

o   Led the Crimson Tide to an undefeated regular season in 2008 and 2009.

o   He totaled 270 tackles for his career with the Tide, including 105 tackles (14.5 tackles for loss) in 2009. Along with that he had eight sacks, five interceptions and a forced fumble.

o   Unanimous All-American (2009)

o   SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2009)

o   SEC title (2009)

o   BCS title (2009 season)


·         Courtney Upshaw (#41)

o   He only had one start in 2009, but made the biggest play in the 2010 title game when recovered a Garret Gilbert fumble on an Eryk Anders sack that sealed the game for Alabama.

o   In 2011 and 2012, he became Alabama’s pass rush specialist.

o   He totaled 140 tackles, 17.5 sacks and one interception in his career with the Tide.

o   2x BCS National Champion (2009 and 2011seasons)

o   2012 BCS National Championship Game MVP

o   2011 Capital One Bowl MVP


·         Dont’a Hightower (#30)

o   It is great to have partner that will help you pressure the quarterback. Upshaw’s partner was Dont’a Hightower.

o   He totaled 235 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions in his career at Alabama.

o   In 2010, he was called upon to be the “nucleus of a young defense.”  He did a tremendous job replacing Rolando McClain at middle linebacker. He captained the defense to the No.1 ranking in all five major categories.

o   First-team All-American (2011)

o   SEC title (2009)

o   2x BCS National Champion (2009 and 2011 seasons)


·         Javier Arenas (#28)

o   If Frank Beamer had recruit had recruited Arenas, Virginia Tech would have been a force to be reckon with in regards to special teams.

o   For his career at Alabama, Arenas totaled 1,752 punt return yards and 2,166 kick return yards (Both are school records). He averaged 14.0 yards per return and scored seven touchdowns

o   He wasn’t a slouch at defense back either. Arenas totaled 70 tackles, 5.0 sacks and six interceptions.

o   His best moment came in a rematch against Florida in the 2009 SEC Championship Game when he intercepted quarterback Tim Tebow in the end-zone. The interception secured a 32-13 win for Alabama against Florida.

o   Consensus All-American (2009)

o   SEC title (2009)

o   BCS title (2009 season)


·         Mark Barron (#4)

o   Outside of Barron, there are not too many hard hitting safeties in college football.

o   He totaled 237 tackles, 5.0 sacks and 12 interceptions in his career with Alabama.

o   2x First-team All-American (2010, 2011)

o   3x First-team All-SEC (2009, 2010, 2011)

o   SEC title (2009)

o   BCS title (2009 and 2011 seasons)


o   Greg McElroy (#12)

o   Though he was recruited by Mike Shula, McElroy was coached by Saban in his five years of collegiate play.

o   As far as quarterbacks are concerned, he ushered in a new era at Alabama known as the “game manager.”

o   In 2009, he completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 2,508 yards and 17 touchdowns. His quarterback rating was 140.5.

o   He improved in 2010, as he completed 70.9 percent of his passes for 2,987 yards and 20 touchdowns. His quarterback rating was 169.0.

o   He had three unforgettable moments, two of them were in 2009 and the third one was in 2010.

o   In the 2009 Iron Bowl inside of Jordan-Hare Stadium, he guided the Crimson Tide on the game-winning drive that ended on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Roy Upchurch. In the 2009 SEC Championship Game, he out played Tebow going 12-18 passing for 239 yards and a touchdown. In 2010 Capital Bowl against Michigan State, he threw a block that sprung Julio Jones free for a touchdown.

o   SEC title (2009)

o   BCS title (2009 season)


o   Mark Ingram, Jr. (#22)

o   He started the dominance of running back tandems for Alabama in 2008.

o   He set the freshman record for rushing touchdowns in 2008 with 12.

o   He totaled 3,261 yards rushing and 42 touchdowns off 5.6 yards per carry in his career with the Crimson Tide.

o   He was outstanding when it came down to using in in the Wildcat formation.

o   He totaled 670 yards receiving and four touchdowns.

o   SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2009)

o   Heisman Trophy winner (2009)

o   SEC title (2009)

o   BCS title (2009 season)


o   Trent Richardson (#3)

o   He was great playing alongside Ingram, but was even better after Ingram left.

o   Richardson totaled 3,130 yards rushing and 35 touchdowns off 5.8 yards per carry in his career at Alabama.

o   He had 68 receptions for 730 yards and seven touchdowns.

o   On special teams, Richardson totaled 29 kick returns for 720 yards and a touchdown.

o   Doak Walker Award (2011)

o   SEC title (2009)

o   2x BCS National Champion (2009 and 2011 seasons)


o   Julio Jones (#8)

o   With his height of 6 feet and 4 inches tall, he gave defensive coordinators fits.

o   Jones totaled 179 receptions for 2,653 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career with the Tide.

o   His best moment came in the 2009 regular season game against LSU when he caught a screen pass from McElroy and went 73 yards to pay dirt. The touchdown secured a 24-15 win against the Tigers.

o   Sporting News Freshman of the Year (2008)

o   SEC title (2009)

o   BCS title (2009 season)

It’s great to succeed in college, but it’s even better to take it to the next level. Most of these players have achieved greatness in the National Football League. Courtney Upshaw and Terrence Cody have Super Bowl rings with the Baltimore Ravens. Julio Jones has become Matt Ryan’s primary receiver in Atlanta, totaling 2,157 yards, 18 touchdowns and a trip to the Pro Bowl thus far.

Though he has battled some injuries, Mark Ingram has managed to put together 1,076 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in three seasons for New Orleans. Trent Richardson rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns in his rookie season in Cleveland. Mark Barron is doing work for Tampa Bay, recording 88 tackles and an interception in two seasons. Javier Arenas has done everything for Kansas City (now with Arizona), recording 136 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and made huge plays on special teams.

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