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first word ON THE COVER VINNIE sunseri Vinnie steps into the spotlight in 2013.
Letter from the ceo BY BENNIE BICE
Mission Statment I am a graduate from the University of Alabama. In 2007, I decided to venture out and start “Touchdown Alabama”. That year, we released our first issue. It was an eight-page zine sold on campus and before football games. In 2008 we decided to re-launch the publication under the title “Touchdown Alabama Magazine”. We put out three issues that year under the heading of Volume One and the magazine you enjoy each month was born. From 2009 to the present, we have been the leader in all things Alabama Football. Our publication has had the pleasure of employing some of the best people in the industry. From graphic designers, to editorial and advertising, we have the best in the industry working for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. This year we look forward to continuing our tradition of excellence and continuing to be the best Alabama Football Magazine.
Touchdown Alabama Magazine was created to regularly provide Crimson Tide football fans a reasonably priced magazine featuring high quality in-depth sports journalism and photography that is often missed by other media. It also provides opportunities for businesses to effectively advertise to a targeted readership at moderate pricing.
aj McCarron. Heisman Candidate. Nationl Champion. 14 14
The Process 26
Player Spotlight 21
Gridiron Grub 27
Could Saban Leave Tuscaloosa for Texas?
Inside Alabama Recruiting
Tailgating Good Eats
Larry's Lowdown Alabama vs Tennesse
Recruit of the Month 29 Cameron Robinson
∙ South Carolina
∙ Ole Miss
∙ Texas A&M
Pro-Connections Trent Richardson
Look Stable of Runners Kenyan Drake runs over the Colorado State defenders.
P h o to g ra p hy by
Ce d r i c M a s o n
Could Saban Leave Tuscaloosa for Texas? By: Adam Robinson
hen your college football team has fallen on hard times, go after the best. That is what the college football landscape learned a month ago when a top University of Texas booster arranged a telephone conversation with Alabama coach Nick Saban's agent Jimmy Sexton. That call was said to have lasted 45 minutes. All this comes from a supporter of the Texas Longhorns who has seen his team come on hard times lately and he wants it revived by the winner of the last two national championship teams. The report said that Tom Hicks, who also is a former University of
response from Saban on his radio show following the surface of the report. Saban will be 62 on Oct. 31. So while the news is out there, let’s take a look at some information about the two schools in Austin and Tuscaloosa.
Texas System regent, said that in January, he talked with Sexton on the telephone. The report said that Hicks was checking to see if Saban would come to Austin and replace Mack Brown as the Texas head coach. No real details came from the phone conversation. Two days later, Hicks had a sitdown lunch with Brown about the possibility of stepping down, but according to Hicks, Brown said he still had a "passion" in wanting to stay and coach. Following the release of the "phone call", Texas fans had “Saban 2014” shirts at a game in late September. "I'm just too damn old to start all over someplace else." That was the
sits 100,119. Bryant-Denny holds 101,821.
Enrollment: The University of Texas in Austin was founded in 1883 and is reported to have a current enrollment of 52,706. Alabama was founded in 1831 and their said enrollment is 34,852.
Photo by Cedric Mason
Stadiums: Texas’ Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium/Jamail Field
Brown vs. Saban: Mack Brown is in his 16th season at Texas and is currently 153-45. Texas claims four national championships all-time. The Longhorns won in 1963, 1969, 1970 and 2005. Alabama football claims 15 national champions with Saban owning three and four including as the coach at LSU. He is 163-55-1 overall. Other facilities: At Texas, they have “The Bubble” as an indoor practice facility. A facility that cost $4 million dollars to
build and is 70,000 square foot. They have a 20,000 square foot strength and training center that features a 70yard AstroTurf track. At Alabama they have the ThomasDrew practice fields. The complex has three 100-yard AstroTurf fields. They also have the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility and have a 130-yard field with a high-tech camera system and is 97,000 square feet. There is also a new $9 million dollar weight room facility with 21,000 square feet on the first floor and 16,000 on the second. Football programs: At the end of 2012 season, Texas' all-time record is 867–336–33 (.726), which ranks as the second most successful football team in NCAA history behind the University of Michigan Wolverines. As of the completion of the 2012 season, Alabama has 827 official victories has won 27 conference championships (four Southern Conference and 23 SEC championships) and has made an NCAA-record 59 postseason bowl appearances. So, as one can see, the two schools boast of some impressive incentives. One would only feel that Saban is telling the truth and that his age is against him to start over somewhere new. Saban is in his seventh season as head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, which is already three years longer than any other tenure in his 41 year coaching career. Advantage Alabama. Saban has stated many times before he and his family love Tuscaloosa. Fans of Alabama can only hope he stays put in Tuscaloosa and continues his winning ways. Brown, who is under contract until 2020 and will be paid $5.4 million this year, won the 2005 national title and lost to Saban's Alabama team in the 2010 championship game. The Longhorns are 23-19 since that defeat.
G A L L E R Y
lots of autographed memorabilia!
Alabama - Tennessee Rivalry, So Rich in Tradition. Will it end ?
By: Larry Burton
he Alabama - Tennessee rivalry has been going on for more years than most rivals Alabama plays. Going into this contest, Alabama and Tennessee have had 95 games, of which Alabama leads the series 50-37-8. By comparison, Alabama and Auburn have only played 77 times. The series started in 1901, but wasn't played every year until 1928. Since then it has been an every-year contest except for one year during World War II in 1943. Also like the Auburn series, it has been a series of streaks. They tied
6-6 in the first game and from 1902 - 1913, not only did Alabama dominate that time frame, only losing once, but also during that time, Tennessee was never allowed even one touchdown. It was just the first of many streaks to come. Alabama has one streak of 11 in a row and Tennessee has a streak of 7 games in a row. In all there have been 13 streaks of three wins or more by both teams. For most of the old school players, they will tell you the Tennessee game was one they placed a greater emphasis on than Auburn and placed Tennessee as the one game they would want to win over all others. Tennessee
players felt the same way as did their most famous coach Bob Neyland, who said, "You never know what a football player is made of until he plays against Alabama." And from the same family that gave the world the Vandegraff Generator, they also gave Alabama Hargrove Vandegraaff. How much did the Tennessee game mean to him? In a 1913 game against Tennessee, he nearly lost one of his ears. According to stories from the day including the Tuscaloosa News, it â€œhad a real nasty cut and was dangling from his head, bleeding badly,â€? Tennessee tackle Bull Bayer recalls in Winston
Groom’s book, “The Crimson Tide.” “He grabbed his ear and tried to yank it from his head. His teammates stopped him and his managers bandaged him … He wanted to tear off his own ear so he could keep playing.” Team managers on the sidelines bandaged him up and he continued to play. There was no way he wasn't going to finish that game and finish beating Tennessee and that day they did, 6-0. Later in the series, legendary coach Bear Bryant, then a Tide player, was thrown out of a game for punching out a Tennessee player, although teammate Bill Lee confessed in the 1987 book “Third Saturday in October” that it actually was him who floored the Vols player. Bryant did however play in the 1935 game with a broken leg rather than sit on the bench in that contest. It simply meant too much to beat Tennessee. Then in the 50's, Alabama's head trainer, Jim Goosetree, whose answer to almost any player's ailment was to "Put some ice on it" or "Walk it off" started passing out victory cigars. That tradition went on for years despite the NCAA's rule of giving gifts and tobacco products. Tennessee learned of this and started passing them out after they won a game in this series. Both teams gladly self-reported themselves as minor violations, but in the end, the practice was forced to stop, at least as far as anyone knows. But to seniors in high school, they don't really have a grasp of this rivalry. The reason is, for seven of the last eight games including the last six in a row, or to put in another way, since they were in the 4th grade, Alabama has 11
dominated the series so much that they've never known a team when it was indeed a rivalry and not a one sided affair. Even to freshmen coming onto the Alabama campus from states far away, many are totally unaware of the long standing rivalry between these two schools and how important it is to the older fan bases on both sides. Last season, when asked about the Tennessee rivalry linebacker Trey DePriest, who grew up in Ohio, said everyone has a good idea what the rivalry means even if Alabama has won for so long. They were taught by older players, by coaches, but mostly from listening to fans about what the game means to them. “Being a second-year player, it’s kind of grown on me now,” DePriest said at a press conference last season. “Last year, I didn’t know. I thought it was always Alabama-Auburn. I didn’t really know about the Tennessee game. But a lot of the older fans take this game real seriously. It’s bigger than Alabama-Auburn to them. I try to please the fans as much as possible, so it definitely means a lot.” Current Alabama athletic director Bill Battle lost his job as head coach of the Vols because of his 1-6 record against Alabama despite having winning records year after year. As a former Alabama player and a Tennessee coach, few know the rivalry better than he. Battle was head coach at Tennessee for seven years, had three 10-win or more seasons and never had a losing record. Battle has said numerous times that he was told by numerous Tennessee people that, "We don't want a coach who just wins games,
we want one who beats Alabama." Battle said after his tenure at Tennessee came to an end that it didn't matter what his overall record was, just the one against Alabama. The game did have a pivotal moment recently however. During the championship year run in 2009, Alabama played a very overmatched Tennessee at BryantDenny Stadium. Alabama was on a run for a national championship and all Alabama fans wanted the new Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin to have his nose rubbed in the sod of Alabama's home field. However, Tennessee played one of their best games of the year and with just seconds to go, were lining up for the winning field goal. The game had been a defensive struggle all day. Alabama had not been able to score a touchdown, but the Tide kicker Leigh Tiffin had managed four field goals. That seemed like more than enough until Tennessee finally managed a touchdown with just 1:19 left in the game to make it 12-10 Alabama. All Alabama had to do was take the kickoff and take a knee a couple of times and end the game. But for Alabama fans, the unthinkable happened as the Vols recovered the onside kick and then drove the ball into field goal range with just a couple of seconds left to play. Nose guard Terrence "Mount" Cody had already blocked one field goal attempt that day and for the Tide to preserve their win and a chance to play for a national championship would need another miracle and that is just what they got as Cody burst through the line to block his second field goal of the day. (Continues on page 17) TOUCHDOWNALABAMA.NET
Vinnie Sunseri looks to make a pick six. P h o to g ra p hy by
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93 7 28 94 87
Jonathan Allen Ryan Anderson Anthony Averett Dakota Ball Parker Barrineau
Linebacker/Defensive Line Linebacker Defensive Back Defensive Line Wide Receiver
FR FR FR FR SO
6-3/264 6-2/255 6-0/170 6-2/270 6-0/183
HS RS HS RS SQ
35 18 31 7 13 31 5 75 72 6 26 15 9 14 33 30 55 47 17 85 80 44 43 2 8 45 41 10 89
Tyler Bass Cooper Bateman Spencer Baumhower Kenny Bell Deion Belue Jerrod Bierbower Chris Black Bradley Bozeman Leon Brown Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Landon Collins Jonathan Cook Amari Cooper Luke Del Rio Trey DePriest Denzel Devall Josh Dickerson Xzavier Dickson Kenyan Drake Malcolm Faciane Raheem Falkins LaMichael Fanning Cade Foster Reuben Foster Robert Foster Jalston Fowler Kurt Freitag John Fulton Brandon Greene
Wide Receiver Quarterback Wide Receiver Wide Receiver Defensive Back Defensive Back Wide Receiver Offensive Line Offensive Line Defensive Back Defensive Back Defensive Back Wide Receiver Quarterback Linebacker Linebacker Linebacker Linebacker Running Back Tight End Wide Receiver Defensive Line Place-kicker Linebacker Wide Receiver Running Back Tight End Defensive Back Tight End
5-10/175 6-3/208 6-1/202 6-1/180 5-11/183 6-1/190 5-11/182 6-5/310 6-6/313 6-1/208 6-0/215 6-0/186 6-1/202 6-2/203 6-2/245 6-2/250 6-1/244 6-3/265 6-1/201 6-5/267 6-4/203 6-7/270 6-1/224 6-1/244 6-3/187 6-1/250 6-4/235 6-0/186 6-5/307
SQ HS SQ 3L 1L SQ RS HS JC 2L 1L HS 1L HS 2L 1L SQ 2L 1L 1L HS 1L 3L HS HS 2L RS 3L RS
99 1 21 73 64 37 88 42 99 4 22 5 82 20 35 26 39 70
Adam Griffith Dee Hart Derrick Henry Brandon Hill Grant Hill Zach Houston O.J. Howard Adrian Hubbard Brandon Ivory Eddie Jackson Christion Jones Cyrus Jones Harrison Jones Tyren Jones Walker Jones Alvin Kamara Kyle Kazakevicius Ryan Kelly
Place-kicker Running Back Running Back Offensive Line Offensive Line Defensive Back Tight End Linebacker Defensive Line Defensive Back Wide Receiver Wide Receiver Tight End Running Back Linebacker Running Back Wide Receiver Offensive Line
SR FR JR SR SR JR FR FR JR JR SO FR SO FR SO SO JR JR SO SO FR SO SR FR FR JR FR SR RS FR FR SO FR FR FR SO FR JR JR FR JR SO JR FR FR FR JR SO
Leesburg, Va. (Stone Bridge) Daphne, Ala. (Daphne) Woodbury, N.J. (Woodbury) Lindale, Ga. (Pepperell) Northport, Ala. (American Christian Academy) Birmingham, Ala. (Vestavia Hills) Murray, Utah (Cottonwood) Fairhope, Ala. (Fairhope) Rayville, La. (Rayville) Tuscambia, Ala. (Northeast Mississippi CC) Dublin, Ohio (Coffman) Jacksonville, Fla. (First Coast) Roanoke, Ala. (Handley) Riverdale, Md. (ASA College) Orlando, Fla. (Dr. Phillips) Geismar, La. (Dutchtown) Daphne, Ala. (Spanish Fort) Miami, Fla. (Northwestern) Highlands Ranch, Colo. (Valor Christian) Springfield, Ohio (Springfield) Bastrop, La. (Bastrop) Evans, Ga. (Lakeside) Griffin, Ga. (Griffin) Powder Spring, Ga. (Hillgrove) Picayune, Miss. (Picayune Memorial) New Orleans, La. (G.W. Carver) Hamilton, Ga. (Harris County) Southlake, Texas (Southlake Carroll) Auburn, Ala. (Auburn) Monaca, Pa. (Central Valley) Mobile, Ala. (Vigor) Buford, Ga. (Buford) Manning, S.C. (Manning) Ellenwood, Ga. (Cedar Grove)
5-10/187 5-9/187 6-3/238 6-6/385 6-6/301 6-1/183 6-6/237 6-6/252 6-4/310 6-0/175 5-11/185 5-10/196 6-4/241 5-9/215 6-2/234 5-10/195 6-0/185 6-5/290
RS 1L HS HS HS SQ HS 2L 2L HS 2L 1L 2L HS HS HS SQ 1L
Calhoun, Ga. (Calhoun) Orlando, Fla. (Dr. Phillips) Yulee, Fla. (Yulee) Collierville, Tenn. (St. Georgeﾃ不/Hargrave) Huntsville, Ala. (Huntsville) Daphne, Ala. (Daphne) Prattville, Ala. (Autauga Academy) Lawrenceville, Ga. (Norcross) Memphis, Tenn. (East) Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. (Boyd Anderson) Adamsville, Ala. (Minor) Baltimore, Md. (Gilman) Germantown, Tenn. (Evangelical Christian) Marietta, Ga. (Walton) Germantown, Tenn. (Evangelical Christian) Norcross, Ga. (Norcross) Ocala, Fla. (Trinity Catholic) West Chester, Ohio (Lakota West)
85 77 71 95 25 40 78 52 51 68 29 55 10 47 15 19 60
Korren Kirven Arie Kouandjio Cyrus Kouandjio Darren Lake Dillon Lee Issac Leon Chad Lindsay Dee Liner Wilson Love Isaac Luatua Cody Mandell Cole Mazza AJ McCarron Corey McCarron Parker McLeod Jai Miller Brandon Moore
Defensive Line Offensive Line Offensive Line Defensive Line Linebacker Tight End Offensive Line Defensive Line Defensive Line Offensive Line Punter Long Snapper Quarterback Tight End Quarterback Defensive Back Offensive Line
FR JR JR SO SO FR JR FR SO SO SR FR SR SO FR FR SO
6-5/281 6-5/315 6-6/310 6-3/324 6-4/242 6-6/214 6-2/302 6-3/281 6-3/286 6-2/313 6-4/213 6-1/246 6-4/214 6-2/238 6-3/193 6-3/213 6-0/313
RS 1L 1L 1L 1L HS 2L HS SQ SQ 3L HS 3L TR HS HS SQ
11 32 64 59 83 46 53 34 8 11 67 27 18 81 86 79 6 29 24 21 61 13 49 3 16 50 23 43 54 84 69 23 2 20 63 56 36 4
Alec Morris C.J. Mosley Michael Newsome Harold Nicholson Kevin Norwood Michael Nysewander Anthony Orr Tyler Owens Jeoffrey Pagan Tana Patrick Austin Peavler Nick Perry Reggie Ragland Ty Reed AÕShawn Robinson Austin Shepherd Blake Sims Caleb Sims Geno Smith Maurice Smith Anthony Steen ArDarius Stewart Ed Stinson Vinnie Sunseri Bradley Sylve Alphonse Taylor Altee Tenpenny Matt Tinney Dalvin Tomlinson Brian Vogler Paul Waldrop Jabriel Washington DeAndrew White Jarrick Williams Kellen Williams Tim Williams Brandon Wilson T.J. Yeldon
Quarterback Linebacker Defensive Line Offensive Linemen Wide Receiver Tight End Defensive Line Linebacker Defensive Line Linebacker Offensive Line Defensive Back Linebacker Wide Receiver/Quarterback Defensive Line Offensive Line Quarterback Wide Receiver Defensive Back Defensive Back Offensive Line Wide Receiver Defensive Line Defensive Back Defensive Back Offensive Lineman Running Back Linebacker Defensive Line Tight End Offensive Line Defensive Back Wide Receiver Defensive Back Offensive Line Linebacker Defensive Back Running Back
FR SR JR JR SR JR JR JR JR SR SO SR SO SR FR JR JR FR SO FR SR FR SR JR SO FR FR SR FR JR SO SO JR JR SR FR FR SO
6-3/230 6-2/232 6-2/250 6-5/283 6-2/195 6-1/235 6-4/282 6-0/220 6-4/290 6-3/238 6-3/290 6-1/212 6-2/259 6-1/190 6-4/320 6-5/315 6-0/202 5-9/181 6-0/186 6-0/180 6-3/309 /190 6-4/292 6-0/210 5-11/180 6-5/335 6-0/207 6-1/247 6-2/287 6-7/260 6-4/276 5-11/185 6-0/190 6-1/210 6-3/302 6-3/235 5-10/203 6-2/218
RS 3L SQ SQ 3L SQ SQ SQ 2L 3L SQ 3L 1L SQ HS 2L 2L HS 1L HS 3L HS 3L 2L 1L RS HS SQ RS 2L SQ 1L 2L 2L 2L HS HS 1L
Lynchburg, Va. (Brookville) Hyattsville, Md. (DeMatha Catholic) Hyattsville, Md. (DeMatha Catholic) York, Ala. (Sumter County) Buford, Ga. (Buford) Boynton Beach, Fla. (American Heritage) The Woodlands, Texas (The Woodlands) Muscle Shoals, Ala. (Muscle Shoals) Mountain Brook, Ala. (Mountain Brook) La Mirada, Calif. (La Mirada) Lafayette, La. (Acadiana) Bakersfield, Calif. (Liberty) Mobile, Ala. (Saint PaulÕs Episcopal School) Mobile, Ala. (Spanish Fort) Marietta, Ga. (Walton) Valley Grande, Ala. (Selma) Cincinnati, Ohio (Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy) Allen, Texas (Allen) Theodore, Ala. (Theodore) Cockeysville, Md. (BoysÕ Latin) Columbus, Ohio (St. Francis DeSales) DÕIberville, Miss. (DÕIberville) Hoover, Ala. (Hoover) Madison, Ala. (Sparkman) Columbiana, Ala. (Clay-Chalkville) Asheville, N.C. (Asheville) Bridgeport, Ala. (North Jackson) Weldington, Fla. (Wellington Community) Prattville, Ala. (Prattville) Madison, Ala. (Bob Jones) Rocky Hill, Conn. (Rocky Hill) Fort Worth, Texas (Arlington Heights) Buford, Ga. (North Gwinnett) Gainesville, Ga. (Gainesville) Hoover, Ala. (Hoover) Atlanta, Ga. (St. Pius X) Sugar Land, Texas (Fort Bend Dulles) Clarksdale, Miss. (Lee Academy) Fultondale, Ala. (Fultondale) Homestead, Fla. (South Dade) Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Northridge) Port Sulphur, La. (South Palquemines) Mobile, Ala. (Davidson) North Little Rock, Ark. (North Little Rock) Hoover, Ala. (Spain Park) McDonaugh, Ga. (Henry County) Columbus, Ga. (Brookstone) Phenix City, Ala. (Central) Jackson, Tenn. (Trinity Christian Academy) Houston, Texas (North Shore) Mobile, Ala. (Blount) Lawrenceville, Ga. (Brookwood) Baton Rouge, La. (University Lab) Elmore, Ala. (Stanhope Elmore) Daphne, Ala. (Daphne)
ALABAMA TENNESSEE RIVALRY Continued "This was not how we expected to win this game today," then Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy said. "But against Tennessee, we'll take a win any way we can get it," he said with a big grin. Now with the SEC looking toward the future, the possibility of conference expansion of two more teams and a nine-game SEC schedule each year, there is a chance that this rivalry would move to becoming a rotational basis with other non-division teams since Alabama is in the Western Division and Tennessee is in the East. Though neither school wants to see the rivalry end, it may just happen. While that may not make much difference to the younger generation, it does to those with a few grey hairs here and there and the football fans who really know their teams and their history. While no one can say with certainty when and if this rivalry will end, fans of both teams should enjoy it while it lasts. Enjoy this game this year. As the game in 2009 proved, records don't matter. The men butting helmets between the lines do. TOUCHDOWNALABAMA.NET 17
Photography by Cedric Mason 20
PLAYERS SPOTLIGHT By Thomas Watts
Howard is a 6-foot-5 221-pound freshman tight end from Autauga Academy in Prattville, Ala. He generated plenty of buzz as part of Alabama's 2013 recruiting class. Howard is arguably the most athletic player in that recruiting class judging from his extremely quick 4.42 40yard dash time. 6-foot-5 guys that run so fast are exceedingly rare. The athleticism has created a ton of stir among fans, and Howard's raw skill has drawn favorable comparisons to Alabama great Ozzie Newsome. Howard enrolled in the spring of 2013 after having a senior year truncated by leg injuries. When he was healthy, he was able to post almost 800 total yards for Autauga to go with 43 solo tackles and three sacks. Even with a somewhat pedestrian showing as a senior, he still earned an invite to the Under-Armor AllAmerica Game. In order to grasp how valuable Howard can be to Alabama, consider how the tight end position has evolved in the grand scheme of football. Football teams are throwing more and more skill players on the field in four and five wide-receiver sets. Defenses have to follow suit by putting more smaller corners and safeties on the field to compensate. How does a defense deal with a tight end that has been flexed out in the slot, or out wide? It creates a match up nightmare. A great example would be the New Orleans Saints' tight end Jimmy Graham. Widely regarded as the best pass catching tight end in football, Graham is a monster at 6-foot-7, but he can run. How does any team defend that? A corner or safety simply cannot do it. Graham can shield them away with his body, or jump over them for anything that is thrown high. A linebacker has a chance, but Graham's speed means he can potentially just run away from the 'backer.
Parallel that to Howard. Howard isn't quite as tall and is still very raw overall, but the potential is still there. One of the biggest assets for Howard at Alabama is all the skill that surrounds him. Bama wide receivers, particularly Amari Cooper, will draw heavy emphasis from opposing defenses. It leaves a linebacker or safety to try and handle Howard across the middle. Howard ate Texas A&M's secondary up on crossing routes in the middle of the field. Expect more of that, particularly as he continues to physically mature under the tutelage of Alabama's strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran. If there is one weakness in Howard's game, it is his blocking ability. Autauga rarely used him as a blocker and he has to be able to do that for the Tide. Wide receivers and tight ends simply don't see the field for Nick Saban if they can't block. Developing the blocking ability will come right along with continued physical maturation in Tuscaloosa. If there is a comfort here, the athleticism that OJ Howard possesses will only help speed up the process. The most encouraging sign surrounding Howard was how well he performed against Texas A&M. In only his second college game, he had three catches for 68 yards. Two of the catches were solid 25-yard receptions at crucial points of the game. The maturation of Howard will be enjoyable for fans to watch throughout the 2013 football season. The quicker he learns to block, the more he plays. The size and speed of the young man have already made him such a nightmare to cover for opposing defenses and that problem will only be exacerbated as he gains more understanding of the offense and chemistry with starting quarterback AJ McCarron.
AJ McCarron. Heisman Candidate. National Champion.
Photo by Cedric Mason
AJ By: Thomas Watts
McCarron is in the running for the most decorated college football player ever. If Alabama goes undefeated and wins a third consecutive BCS championship, he will have won more national titles than lost games in his tenure as Alabama's starting quarterback. He'll also have enough rings to sink the Titanic. In an ironic twist, there is a decent possibility that McCarron won't even head to New York as a Heisman finalist, and will almost surely never reach the College Football Hall of Fame. The Heisman Trophy has changed markedly in the past few years. Previously, the award went to the best player on the best team more often than not. Riding a wave of nouveau thinking, it has started going to the perceived "best" player. The move has devalued more steady players in favor of the spectacular. Unfortunately for McCarron, he is the antithesis of spectacular. He doesn't have that insane play that mere mortals couldn't pull off that gets replayed 1,000 times a day for years. Instead, he shows sublime control of a very complex offense. What has made NFL quarterback Peyton Manning great for over a decade? He has absolute control over whatever offense he is in. In Indianapolis, fans figured 22
out that he needed silence to check in and out of plays and when the Colts were on offense you could hear a pin drop in that stadium. McCarron displays a lot of the same ability. To illustrate, look at the 2013 Texas A&M game in College Station. The final touchdown play, a bootleg to a leaking Jalston Fowler was a McCarron call all the way, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. A&M wasn't doing very much defensive checking against Alabama so McCarron was constantly changing plays against whatever the defense was showing. It was very rare that the Aggies backed out of a seven or eight-man front during the game, but whenever they did, the offense quickly checked into a run and ripped off a solid gain. The check was all on McCarron. Fans that are curious as to why Alabama did not run more in the first half of that game have their answer here as well. McCarron threw so much because that was what the defense gave him. Even if he didn't check against A&M, he recognized coverages with eerie regularity. The touchdown pass on a screen to Kenny Bell illustrates McCarron's knowledge of the game itself. Alabama lined up with two receivers on the left side, Kenny Bell and Christion Jones. A&M's inside corner briefly showed
blitz, and the A&M safety appeared to be bailing out into a cover 1 look. The corner would be blocked and trapped on the inside if Alabama threw the ball quickly and Bell would only have to beat the safety for a touchdown. That is exactly what happened. McCarron knew all of that from the alignment of the defense. It is those kind of plays, that put McCarron in rare air among college quarterbacks. Sadly, casual fans and members of the media completely whiff on this aspect of the game. Speaking of whiffs: As it stands, McCarron will not be in the College Football Hall of Fame. He is ineligible. Process the fact that the (arguably) most decorated quarterback in the history of the college game won't ever make the Hall. To be considered, he has to be named a First Team All-American by a recognized outlet. The loaded quarterback group this year, his final year of eligibility for that honor, includes a returning Heisman winner in Johnny Manziel as well as Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, whose name is
being bandied about as a No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, makes it difficult to believe he will earn first-team honors when All-America voting happens at the end of the regular season. Luckily, McCarron has some company on the sidelines of the Hall of Fame that leaves Alabama fans flabbergasted. Derrick Thomas has yet to make it either even though he only set every sack record imaginable in his time at the Capstone. Excluding McCarron, particularly if he wins an unprecedented third national title as a starter, as well as continually leaving Thomas out of the College Football Hall of Fame is a major knock to the credibility of the institution itself. AJ McCarron himself would admit he doesn't care about individual awards, just titles. Still, some of these things defy explanation. Statistics aren't everything. McCarron's absolute control of an offense is almost unparalleled in college.
NEWS A monthly look at all 14 sec teams
How does your team rank among the best in college Football
By Adam Robinson
here are several key SEC matchups coming in the month of October that should play an important role in possibly deciding who will end up playing for the conference championship in December. On Saturday, Oct. 5, some key SEC games will be Arkansans at Florida while Auburn hosts Ole Miss. On Saturday, Oct. 12, Ole Miss will travel back to Texas as they are scheduled to meet the Aggies of Texas A&M. Also on Oct. 12, Florida travels to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers. On Oct. 19, Auburn will make the track to Kyle Field to take on the Aggies of Texas A&M while LSU ventures to Ole Miss. Let’s take a look at some of these games: Arkansas at Florida These two schools have played nine times with Florida owning an 8-1 record over Arkansas. The last time these two teams met was in 2009 when Florida edged out Arkansas 30-23. Look for a close battle between these two teams with the game being close in the fourth quarter. Florida’s home field should help the Gators pull out the “W” but if Florida gets caught looking ahead to what could very well be a top-10 battle with LSU, Will Muschamp and the Gators might be in for a “Woo Pig Sooie” win.
Ole Miss at Auburn
Many have predicted Ole Miss to be a sleeper pick in the SEC West while some have the Auburn Tigers as having a pretty good year under firstyear head coach Gus Malzahn. 24
This will be a battle of two up-tempo offenses going at it pretty good. The offenses of both teams should put up some points in this game, but it will come down to which defense can make a key stop over those offenses. Auburn holds a 27-10 overall record in this series. Ole Miss at Texas A&M This game looks to follow the same format as the Ole Miss/Auburn game above. Two teams with two uptempo offenses going at it. The deciding factor in this game, like above, is which defense can make the most stops against the high-powered offenses. A&M looks to have the best offense out of the two teams with Johnny Manziel running the offense as the Aggie quarterback. But the Aggies defense has been suspect as of late. Will playing at Kyle Field be a key factor in this game? Florida at LSU In 2012, the Florida Gators stunned LSU in Gainesville with a 14-6 win. The loss was the first of the season for LSU and the first of two in the regular season for LSU. This year, Florida comes to Tiger Stadium, which is never a great place for visiting teams. This might be chosen as a night game and that is never good for visiting teams in Baton Rouge. The revenge factor might play a big part in this game for LSU as they want to avenge last year’s loss to the Gators. Another story line in this game is former LSU assistant now Gator head coach Will Muschamp is back in town. Auburn at Texas A&M This game for the Auburn Tigers will just be their
second road game of the season. The Tigers have only four total in 2013 with the only one prior to this one coming after a trip to LSU on Sept. 21. As mentioned earlier, this game will be all about offense as head coach Kevin Sumlin’s Aggie offense meets up with head coach Gus Malzahn’s Auburn offense. A young Auburn team and defense heading into their second road game of the season into Kyle Field does not look good on paper. After all, the Aggies—despite falling to Alabama 49-42—lit up the Tide defense for 31 first downs and 628 yards (464 passing, 164 rushing). LSU at Ole Miss LSU at Ole Miss will play a key factor in the race for the SEC West division crown. The LSU–Ole Miss football rivalry was renamed the Magnolia Bowl in 2008. The Tigers and the Rebels first met in 1894 and have been regular opponents in the SEC meeting annually since 1945. LSU leads the all time series, 58-39-4. In a shootout last year, LSU won 41-35. The 2013 should be along the same lines as 2012.
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The Process By Adam Robinson
So far for the class of 2014, Alabama has commitments from 20 players:
• ATH Bo Scarbrough • DB Kalvaraz Bessent • DB Chris Williams • LB Shaun Hamilton • DB Stephen Roberts • LB Zach Whitley • DT O.J. Smith • OL Viane Talamaivo • DT Johnny Dwight • K JK Scott • QB David Cornwell • WR Derek Kief • OL J.C. Hassenauer • OL Dominick Jackson • OL Montel McBride • LB Christian Miller • LB Keith Holcombe • OL Ross Pierschbacher • OL Cameron Robinson • WR Cameron Sims
s the days and months get closer and closer to National Signing Day 2014—Wednesday, Feb. 5—recruiting battles are starting to heat up as we are now less than five months away from the annual event. One of the recent biggest news to happen in the last few weeks in the recruiting news for the Alabama Crimson Tide is the announcement from prize recruit Cameron Robinson announced he has committed to play for the Crimson Tide. Robinson’s announcement was carried live on television during a ceremony at his high school of West Monroe in Louisiana. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound offensive tackle is a five-star prospect and chose Alabama over the LSU Tigers—a team in his own home state. “My key factors (for choosing a school) were most importantly where I feel most comfortable and what school I felt like set me up to be the most successful for the next four years,” Robinson said on ESPN before the announcement. “Those were the main two factors.” Many suspected Robinson might choose Alabama and head coach Nick Saban as his college team after a friend of his also chose the Tide. Robinson and fellow West Monroe recruit and childhood friend Cameron Sims both chose the Tide as their college of choice. Robinson is expected to graduate high school in December and play in the 2014 Under Armour All-American Game in January. In other Alabama recruiting news, defensive end Da'Shawn Hand of Woodbridge (Va.) has changed his plans on visiting Tuscaloosa. Hand was said to be visiting Alabama for their Nov. 9 game against LSU, but instead will not be making the trip. Hand, a 6-foot-4, 254-pound prospect, was forced to change his plans in order to take the SAT on Oct. 5, according to a report at Rivals.com. He had planned to visit Florida that day for its game against Arkansas. Instead, he'll go to Florida on Nov. 9 for the Vanderbilt game and visit Tuscaloosa on Oct. 26, when Alabama plays Tennessee. In other news: Opelika's Stephen Roberts, a cornerback recruit for Alabama, said he is “90 percent” on going to Alabama. Since Saban was hired at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has gone 68-13 in Saban’s six seasons in Tuscaloosa. In his first season, Alabama went 7-6 in 2007 followed by a 12-2 record in 2008, a 14-0 record in 2009, a 10-3 record in 2010, a 12-1 record in 2011 and a 13-1 record in 2012. Simple math shows six seasons and three national championships. While the records are good and the championships are better, it all starts with getting the players to Tuscaloosa and that means winning the recruiting battles. Since 2008, Alabama’s recruiting classes have been ranked in the top-three rankings by ESPN. In 2008, Alabama was No. 3 behind Miami and Clemson. In 2009, Alabama moved up a spot to No. 2 behind LSU. In the 2010 rankings, Alabama fell back to No. 3 behind Florida and Texas. The 2011 class pushed Alabama back to the No. 2 spot just behind Florida State. Since then, it has been all Alabama as the Crimson Tide has held the No. 1 spot in 2012 and this past year in 2013. As of right now, the Crimson Tide’s class of 2014 is holding the No. 1 spot ahead of Florida State, Texas, Miami and Georgia.
Tide Trivia 1. What state was Derrick Lassic from? a. New York, NY b. New Jersey, NJ c. Mobile, AL d. Dothan, AL 2. The late Derrick Thomas was from what City and State? a. Athens, GA b. Lexington, KY c. Miami, FL d. Detroit, MI 3. Joey Jones was a great receiver for Alabama, what number did he wear? a. 88 b. 83 c.22 d. 4
4. What was significant about the 1918 season at Alabama? A. Alabama was just one of many schools to cancel all non-Academic activitie during WWI. B. The city of Tuscaloosa built a football stadium for the University. C. The entire football team took a train to Washington to protest the War. D. Two Student/Athletes were held as prisoners. 5. Shawn Alexander and Joe Namath were record breakers for the University of Alabama football team. Which one or each of them received All-American status as players while at University of Alabama? A. Alexander and Namath were All-Americans B. Only Namath was named All-American C. Only Alexander was named All-American D. Neither was ever named All-American 1. a 2. c 3. d 4. a 5. d
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Photo by Cedric Mason
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 2. Combine chicken, cream cheese, hot pepper sauce, cup pepper jack cheese, blue cheese dressing, crumbled blue cheese, seafood seasoning, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. 3. Transfer chicken mixture to a 9-inch round baking dish and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons pepper jack cheese 4. Bake until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with cayenne Pepper. Servings: 8 This is a quick and easy appetizer that will be a crowd pleaser! Serve with celery and crackers. ROLL TIDE!! TOUCHDOWNALABAMA.NET
Recruit of the Month
Recruit of the Month
By Stephen Smith
rom Andre Smith and Antoine Caldwell to Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack, Alabama has had its history of bringing in talented offensive lineman. Like quarterbacks, running backs and receivers, offensive linemen have a role to play in order for the team to blossom. To be successful in the trenches, one would need more than just size and strength. In being an offensive lineman in Nick Saban’s system, you have to communicate well with your teammates, be focused on every play, follow your assignments, consistently block for the running back and protect the quarterback. The main reason behind Alabama’s successful dynasty thus far is the offensive line’s ability to play well together, impose their will on the opposing defense and not get rattled at the line scrimmage each game. On Sept. 4, Alabama got a verbal commitment from a talented offensive lineman prospect for the 2014 recruiting class. Cameron Robinson attended and played football for Ouchita High School before transferring to West Monroe High School in Monroe, La. He is a consensus five-star recruit at the left tackle 29
position. He is rated among the top overall prospects in the nation and is rated as the top overall prospect by 247Sports. He is the No. 3 overall prospect and No. 1 offensive tackle prospect according to ESPN 300. At 6-foot-8, 350 pounds, Robinson has the physicality, athleticism, a nasty lineman’s demeanor and is a load for any defensive lineman to handle. He committed to Alabama via ESPN. Outside of Alabama, Robinson had offers from LSU, Arkansas, Auburn, Michigan, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, TCU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and more. One month before he committed to Alabama, Robinson’s decision came down to the two SEC West foes, Alabama and LSU. If you watch film, two things should jump out at you where Robinson is concerned. The first thing is his ability to get off the ball quickly. In the 40-yard dash, Robinson was clocked at a 5.27. This is great speed for offensive lineman because it allows him to block his man at the point of attack first and then get to the second level of the defense. The second thing is his blocking technique. In the running game, his strengths lie in blocking face up in space (pulling around) and pinning inside to allow the back to get up and down the field. As far TOUCHDOWNALABAMA.NET
as pass blocking goes, he has a tendency to lock up on a defensive lineman and drive them away from the play. Being at left tackle. this aspect will be key since he will be protecting the back side of the quarterback. Alabama has been very successful recruiting out of Louisiana. Along with Kenny Bell, Eddie Lacy, Landon Collins, Raheem Falkins, Cameron Sims and O.J. Smith, Robinson becomes the sixth player that Alabama has recruited from Louisiana and the third verbal commitment for the Tide’s 2014 class. According to Robinson, he told ESPN reporters that his key factors for choosing a school came down to where he felt most comfortable and what school would help set him up to be successful in four years. “Alabama’s a great program and every time I was able to get down to Tuscaloosa, I was able to sit down and talk with Coach Saban, Coach Napier and Coach Cristobal,” Robinson said. “I just developed a strong relationship with them.” Robinson has high expectations for himself saying that he plans on coming in, working hard and try to compete for a starting spot as a freshman. Robinson said that the recent commitment of high school teammate, fellow Monroe recruit and childhood
friend Cameron Sims to Alabama was influential on his decision as well. For a recruiting class that is already ranked No. 1 in the nation according to 247Sports, ESPN, and Rivals, Robinson becomes the 20th commitment (sixth offensive line prospect) for the Crimson Tide and the 14th in the ESPN 300 for the class of 2014. With All-Americans like Jones, Warmack and DJ Fluker, Saban has had success thus far with preparing offensive lineman for the NFL. Last season, Cyrus Kouandjio started at left tackle. He played all 14 games in 2012 and was huge in the BCS title game against Notre Dame. Alabama constantly ran to the left side behind Kouandijo and gained 265 yards rushing off 5.9 yards per carry. With Kouandjio being projected as first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, it was vital for the Tide to have Robinson commit to them. Robinson will graduate high school in December and play in the 2014 Under Armour All-American Game in January, along with a number of other Alabama commits and targets, before enrolling at Alabama for the spring semester. The future is bright for Robinson. It’s just all a part of the process.
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Trent Richardson NFL'S NEWEST TOP 10 TALENT
Photography by Cedric Mason 32
By Stephen Smith
verything good in life comes in pairs. Whether its peanut butter and jelly, pizza and hot wings, steak and potatoes or Batman and Robin, there is no argument about it that two things are better than one. For football, the pair is quarterback and running back. Though at times it seems like the quarterback receives all the credit, having a durable running back to take pressure off the passing game is a luxury. A running back that can generate 5 or more yards per carry is a nightmare for defenses because it forces them to respect the run game. This causes defensive backs to come down and play the run, which allows the quarterback to scan the field and find mismatches to take advantage of. As a native of Pensacola, Fla., Richardson attended and played football for Escambia High School. After sitting out his sophomore year due to injury, Richardson returned his junior year healthy and ready to play. As a junior, he played in eight games and recorded 1,390 yards rushing with 13 touchdowns. In his senior year, Richardson had 228 carries for 2,090 yards and 25 touchdowns. For his style of play which consisted of power, speed and quickness, Richardson was frequently compared to Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith (Escambia-1987 graduate). He was also compared to Michael Turner, O.J. Simpson and physique wise Earl Campbell. Upon graduating high school, Richardson collected numerous awards including FSWA All-State 5A second team honors, FSWA 5A All-State First Team, 5A Florida Player of the Year, consensus All-American and Mr. Football finalist (2008). Richardson decided to take his talents to the Capstone in 2009 after receiving an athletic scholarship. He chose Alabama over Florida, Florida State and LSU. As a freshman, Richardson made an immediate impact, stepping in for the departing Glen Coffee. He shared time at the running back position with Mark Ingram (2009 Heisman winner) and Roy Upchurch. In 2009, he finished his freshman year recording 145 carries for 751 yards and eight touchdowns. He was a key cog in the 2010 BCS Championship game, in which he had 109 rushing, two touchdowns and helped the Crimson Tide secure a 37-21 victory against the Texas Longhorns. Due to Ingram’s injury, Richardson started the first two games of the 2010 season. Though Alabama did not achieve a national title, Richardson still had a productive year. He totaled 700 yards rushing and six touchdowns off 112 carries. He was huge on the receiving end and the special teams aspect as well, recording 266 receiving yards and four touchdowns along with 634 kick return yards and a touchdown. Richardson helped guide the team to a 10-3 record and 49-7 victory over Michigan 33
State in the Capital One Bowl. In 2011, the New Orleans Saints drafted Ingram and Richardson became the starting running back for the Crimson Tide. Not only was Richardson able to hold his own as the starter, he took on a leadership role in helping Eddie Lacy and Dee Hart. As a junior, Richardson became a household name for the Tide. He had nine games in which he ran for over 100 yards and tied Shaun Alexander’s record with six consecutive 100yard rushing performances. In the 2012 BCS title game against LSU, Richardson had 96 yards rushing and a touchdown that secured a 21-0 victory for Alabama, giving him his second national title and the team’s 14th. To end the season, Richardson totaled 1,679 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns. His 1,679 rushing yards broke Ingram’s record for most rushing yards in a season and his 21 touchdowns was an SEC running back record. He had 338 yards receiving with three touchdowns, improving his season touchdown total to 24, which tied Alexander’s SEC record. For his career at Alabama, Richardson put up jawdropping statistics. As a running back, he had 540 carries for 3,130 yards and 35 touchdowns. At receiver, he recorded 64 receptions for 730 yards and seven touchdowns. On special teams, he totaled 28 returns for 720 yards and a touchdown. When an individual is able to put up numbers like these and guide their team to an SEC title and two national titles, they should be rewarded, right? Well, in Richardson’s case they should. He amassed quite a few awards in his tenure at Alabama including SEC Offensive Player of the Year, First-team All-SEC, Unanimous AllAmerican, Doak Walker Award, SEC Champion (2009) and a two-time BCS National Champion (2009 and 2011 seasons). Richardson decided to forgo his senior year at Alabama and go into the 2012 NFL Draft. He was selected in the first-round (third overall pick) by the Cleveland Browns. He became the highest running back selected since Reggie Bush in 2006 and the first running back that the Browns selected in the first-round since William Green in 2002. On July 23, 2012, Richardson and the Browns agreed to a four-year, $20.4 million contract with a $13.6 million signing bonus. Though he missed the preseason because of knee surgery, Richardson had a phenomenal rookie season. In 15 games, Richardson had 267 carries for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns. On Sept. 18, it was announced that the Browns made a deal with the Indianapolis Colts that would send Richardson to the Colts in exchange for a first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft. TOUCHDOWNALABAMA.NET
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