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Alabama top-ranked in preseason Athlon Sports poll, Calvin Ridley snags SEC cover

Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley (No. 3) vs. Arkansas: Marvin Gentry- USA TODAY Sports

Despite losing 13 starters (six offense, seven defense), various media outlets still project Alabama to win the Southeastern Conference and contend for a national championship. Athlon Sports, one of the sites in question, released a preseason top 25 rankings on Monday. 

The Crimson Tide stands at No. 1, followed by Florida State, Ohio State, Clemson and Michigan. Alabama and Clemson faced each other in the 2016 CFP national championship game as the Tide edged out the Tigers, 45-40.

Ridley

UA receiver Calvin Ridley: Photo by- Athlon Sports

Sophomore wide receiver Calvin Ridley is one of many talented players returning to next season’s roster. The 6-foot-1, 188-pound target set a school record in receiving yards for a freshman, totaling 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns on 89 receptions. He earned 11 starts (15 games), while having five of his seven scores come against prime time competition. Ridley put on a clinic in Alabama’s meeting with Michigan State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, accounting for 138 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches.

Saban returns a solid group on both sides of the ball, but quality play at quarterback will determine how far this year’s team will go.

Listed below is the complete top 25 preseason rankings for Athlon Sports.

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide
  2. Florida State Seminoles
  3. Ohio State Buckeyes
  4. Clemson Tigers
  5. Michigan Wolverines
  6. Oklahoma Sooners
  7. Tennessee Volunteers
  8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  9. LSU Tigers
  10. Mississippi Rebels
  11. Washington Huskies
  12. Stanford Cardinal
  13. Michigan State Spartans
  14. Baylor Bears
  15. UCLA Bruins
  16. Houston Cougars
  17. Georgia Bulldogs
  18. TCU Horned Frogs
  19. Louisville Cardinals
  20. Iowa Hawkeyes
  21. Florida Gators
  22. North Carolina Tar Heels
  23. Southern California (USC) Trojans
  24. Oregon Ducks
  25. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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