Preseason watch lists are like appetizers. It whets your taste buds as you prepare for the main course, however, it is not the main course. College Football writer Phil Steele released his preseason All-American and all-conference lists Monday. Several Alabama players made headlines, but only six graced Steele’s preseason first-team All-SEC list. Yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine breaks down the good, the bad and the weird.
Alabama had seven players named to Phil Steele’s preseason All-American list, including linebacker Reggie Ragland and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson. The Crimson Tide’s offense was represent as Ryan Kelly, Derrick Henry and O.J. Howard were all selected.
Special teams got its notch with sophomore punter JK Scott, and junior defensive back Eddie Jackson found his name on a fourth-team All-American list, despite the struggles he had in 2014.
Sophomore left tackle Cam Robinson had a monster year for Alabama in 2014. He started all 14 games and allowed just three sacks on 861 snaps. Robinson earned Freshman All-American honors from Sporting News and the Football Writers of America Association, yet he was left off Steele’s preseason All-American list. Robinson anchored an offensive line that averaged 484.5 yards per game last season, but his efforts only netted him a fourth-team All-SEC spot on the list.
It’s cute to see Eddie Jackson on a preseason All-American list, but does he deserve it? He played well as a freshman in 2013, but struggled more times than not last season. Jackson couldn’t control his feet, and was boxed-out numerous times against physical receivers.
He forced three turnovers (two forced fumbles, one interception), despite being rushed back from a knee injury, but Alabama fans didn’t see Jackson play to his full potential.
Senior defensive tackle Jarran Reed carried Alabama’s front line for much of last season. A’Shawn Robinson gained momentum down the stretch, but Reed led all defensive linemen in tackles with 55. He is listed as a fourth-team All-SEC preseason selection, and it’s uncalled for.
Reed was a crucial part of an Alabama’s defensive line that held opponents’ to 88.3 rushing yards per game and three touchdowns, prior to the team’s meeting with Ohio State.
If nothing else motivates Cyrus Jones this summer, Phil Steele’s list should.
Alabama’s most seasoned cornerback was left off the All-American list and placed as a second-team All-SEC selection. Jones finished last season with 46 tackles, 13 pass breakups, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He played in all 14 games in 2014, despite a torn labrum in his hip.
What has O.J. Howard done aside from his 52-yard touchdown reception against LSU in 2013? Not much at all. The 6-foot-6, 242-pound junior caught 17 passes for 260 yards last season.
Run blocking was an issue for Howard, until the latter part of the 2014 season. Many can make the argument that he was underused, however, he’s dropped a lot of catchable passes.
Phil Steele may have placed Howard as a second-team All-American and second-team All-SEC based on talent alone. If that’s the case, then Howard needs to prove it this season.
Seeing both JK Scott and Derrick Henry left off the first-team All-American list is perplexing. Scott was a major weapon on special teams last season, as he averaged 48.0 yards punt.
31 of Scott’s 55 kicks (56.4 percent) dropped inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. He earned first-team All-American honors from ESPN, USA Today and Sporting News.
Henry averaged 5.8 yards per carry in 2014. He totaled 990 rushing yards with 11 touchdowns. Henry recorded 100+ rushing yards against West Virginia, Florida and Missouri.
The 6-foot-3, 242-pound junior knows he will be Alabama’s featured back this fall. Henry excelled in spring practice, and looks to prove that he isn’t just a myth.
Don’t lose sleep over a preseason awards list. It’s a long offseason, and sports writers are trying to flood the internet with information to pass the time. The list that is seen above could change by the end of the 2015 college football season. Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban is concerned about two things, consistency where winning is concerned and grooming boys into men. Here is a chart listing all Alabama players that made an All-American and all-conference list according to Phil Steele.
|Alabama players on Phil Steele’s preseason All-American list|
|Reggie Ragland||Linebacker||1st team AA, 1st team SEC|
|A’Shawn Robinson||Defensive tackle||1st team AA, 1st team SEC|
|Derrick Henry||Running Back||3rd team AA, 1st team SEC|
|Ryan Kelly||Center||3rd team AA, 1st team SEC|
|O.J. Howard||Tight End||2nd team AA, 2nd team SEC|
|JK Scott||Punter||2nd team AA, 1st team SEC|
|Eddie Jackson||Defensive Back||4th team AA, 1st team SEC|
Cam Robinson, Jarran Reed, Cyrus Jones, Tony Brown and Jonathan Allen did not make a preseason All-American list, however, all five players appeared on an all-conference list.
Reed, Brown and Robinson were all named to the fourth-team All-SEC list. Allen and Jones were listed as second-team All-SEC members. Inside linebacker Reuben Foster made the third-team preseason list.
Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.