Josh Jacobs was technically never a starting running back at the University of Alabama. He was never the number one running back on the team or put up the biggest numbers. Yet Nick Saban has a man here he can point to in Jacobs that helps him sell the Crimson Tide to recruits in a way that no other coach can come close to.
And here’s how he can pitch it…
“Yes, you could go to “XYZ” and I’m sure they might find a starting position for you quicker than we can. We have lots of talent at Alabama and the best will take the field and the rest will learn to be the best. You may not get significant snaps until your junior year. But this is Alabama son, where one good year of playing time is all it takes to get into the NFL. I’m sure you remember Josh Jacobs. He never made it to number one running back, was never a starter, but had enough eyes on him because of where he played to be a number one draft choice and make the big bucks.” I could hear Saban say.
“And one of the big reasons he went in the first round was his low mileage. Son, a football player is like a car, there’s only so many good miles in it before it starts having little repairs that end up as big repairs.” He’s in the NFL today, tearing up the stat sheet, leading for Rookie of the Year because he’s got fresh legs, no injuries from years of college warfare and he’ll have lots of miles ahead of him. Now you can go to XYZ and get all used up, get beat up because they won’t have an offensive line like we do and nobody in the NFL is going to want to take much of a chance on you. So if you’re just looking for the short term, looking to date some cute girls because you’re the college star and don’t give a damn about going somewhere where they’ll develop your talent to be even better and prepare you for the NFL, then you may need to go to XYZ, because if that’s who you are, you wouldn’t have worked out at our place. Our guys are just smarter than that.” He’d say.
And that same logic could be used at a ton of positions, not just running backs.
The main takeaway here is that you don’t have to be a four year starter, a two year starter or even a starter to make the NFL if you’re from Alabama. The NFL pays extra close attention at EVERYBODY from Alabama because they know they’ll be NFL ready and come from a school where their practices were like NFL practices and that they come from a school were their heads are screwed on right.
I talked to Eddie Lacey after he left Alabama and he told me that it was hard watching and waiting for his turn to be “the man” at Alabama. He came in with a very talented class and didn’t get his chance to be the main running back until his senior year. That was all it took for him to go high in the draft and go on to become the best rookie running back in the NFL and a pro bowl player.
Similarly, let’s say Alabama is recruiting a top receiver, and the recruit is worried about coming to Alabama. Saban could say, yes, right now we have four of the best in the nation on our team some darn fine ones behind them. But you know, I believe that all four of those guy are headed to the NFL and some of the ones behind will too. Heck, a few years a go we had a guy named Gehrig Dieter transfer in here for his senior year. Nobody in the NFL knew anything about him, but his one year in just a backup role at Alabama got him noticed and he got his shot in the NFL until he was injured there. Now if a non starting reserve can get a shot after the NFL gets to see him at Alabama, do you really think you won’t after working your way up to becoming a starter?
Greatness becomes greatness. The great players that Alabama brings in just brings in more. A non starting player going in the first round now setting the NFL of fire is just sweet icing on the cake.
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Larry Burton has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter