Alabama Football News

Sports Illustrated names ten UA players to Top 100 list for 2019

Jaylen Waddle punt returning
Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

Media pundits from around the southeast region and surrounding areas have convened upon the Hyatt-Regency/Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., for Southeastern Conference Media Days. 

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will speak on Wednesday, but Sports Illustrated has joined the likes of Maxwell Football Club in releasing its top 100 players for this season in college football.

In the article provided, SI singled-out 10 student-athletes from Alabama – five on offense, five on defense – with three joining Saban at SEC media days. 

Xavier McKinney, a junior at SS, started the list of names at No. 86. 

He’s coming off a season where he had 74 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions. As the leader of veteran defensive secondary, the native Georgian anticipates this team returning the physical style of play that makes it special. 

RELATED: Trio of UA Players named to Maxwell Award Preseason Watch List

Najee Harris, a junior at RB, chimes in at No. 71. 

The former five-star from California will be the primary rusher, following his time spent behind Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs. He finished second on the team last year in rushing with 783 yards and four touchdowns on 117 carries. His average of 6.69 yards per rush led the team. 

Anfernee Jennings, a senior at OLB, was No. 61. 

The 6-foot-3, 259-pounder had a rebound year in 2018 — posting 50 tackles (13 for loss), 5.5 sacks, six quarterback hurries, 11 breakups (team-high) and one interception.

If he remains healthy, the Tide’s room of outside linebackers will be the scariest group in the nation. 

Jaylen Waddle, a sophomore WR, chimes in at No. 39. 

His freshman season was nothing short of sensational, as he dazzled fans with his speed, secure hands and explosive playmaking abilities.

Waddle totaled 848 yards in 2018 with seven scores on 45 catches. He was electrifying on special teams as well, averaging nearly 15 yards per punt return (14.56) and took one back for a touchdown at home versus Louisiana. 

Alex Leatherwood, a junior OL, fell at No. 32. 

He played right guard last year with Jonah Williams at left tackle, but Leatherwood now returns to his marquee position. As a guard, he did not allow a sack through 15 games and helped quarterback Tua Tagovailoa turn in a record-setting season as a first-year starter.  

Trevon Diggs, a senior CB, was No. 24. 

If not for a foot injury versus Arkansas, Diggs could have had a monster year in 2018. 

He started the season with 20 tackles and a team-high six breakups – prior to the mishap – however, his return gives Alabama experience and versatility in its secondary.  

Dylan Moses, a junior at ILB, stood at No. 16. 

The scepter has entered his hand as Moses comes in a lineage of strong, athletic and studios inside linebackers.

Like Tagovailoa is important on offense, all eyes will be on Moses to navigate the Tide’s defense back to the College Football Playoff title game and win. 

Raekwon Davis, a senior at DE, was at No. 10. 

He took a step back last season after having a great sophomore campaign. 

The 6-foot-7, 312-pounder totaled just 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 2018, but Davis has embraced a leadership role and looks to return to form. A former five-star from Mississippi, he, LaBryan Ray and true freshman DJ Dale expect to each have double-digit totals in sacks.  

Jerry Jeudy, a junior at WR, was named at No. 4. 

He was the ringleader of Alabama’s weapons – snatching 68 passes for 1,315 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns last year. Jeudy, a native Floridian, led the team in receiving and won the Fred Biletnikoff Award.

He returns for an opportunity to create a top-five NFL Draft stock. 

Tua Tagovailoa, a junior at QB, was No. 2. 

Obviously, SI named Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) at No. 1 and that should fire up Tagovailoa for this season.

He was the fourth 3,000-yard quarterback of the Saban era (3,966) in 2018, as he accounted for 43 touchdown passes and 48 total scores – both were school records. He was running away with the Heisman Trophy after the first seven to eight weeks of the year, until a couple of injuries crept in.

Tagovailoa finished as a Heisman finalist and All-American; however, he now wants a national championship.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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