Have you heard the one about Nick Saban wearing out his players while they’re at Alabama, leaving them with nothing in the tank for when they arrive in the NFL?
It’s commonly referred to as the Bama Bust, not to be confused with the Bama Bump, which attempts to explain the phenomenon of Alabama recruits being ranked too highly simply because they are Alabama recruits.
Both theories are equally wrong.
In the case of the Bama Bump, it only stands to reason that if Saban deems a player good enough to sign with Alabama, then those folks doing the rankings should take that expert opinion into consideration. If they have done that in the past, they would have already been proven right.
Here are the conclusive results about all of those five-star recruits who arrive in Tuscaloosa. According to research from Chris Hummer of 247Sports, Alabama’s five-star recruits are picked in the first round at a rate of 48.3 percent, while five-star recruits that go to any other school are selected at a 17 percent clip.
In other words, those five-star recruits signing with Alabama are anything but overrated. Either that or they are being developed at a much higher level than those high school stars who go elsewhere.
If there was ever a statistic that belonged on Alabama recruiting material, that is it. Go to Alabama as a five-star player and leave as a NFL first-round pick.
But what about the theory that those players are burned out by Saban’s Process and aren’t in a position, physically, to live up to their NFL draft hype? Like the Bama Bump nonsense, the numbers don’t support that theory.
This weekend alone is proof of that.
There were three remarkable performances during last week’s NFL schedule. All three featured former Alabama stars.
It started Thursday night with Derrick Henry carrying the ball 17 times for 238 yards and four touchdowns for the Tennessee Titans. That included an iconic 99-yard run that matched Tony Dorsett for the longest in NFL history.
Then came Sunday’s Miami Miracle, in which Kenyan Drake scored a touchdown on the last play of the game to beat the New England Patriots. Many college football fans watched that incredible play and immediately thought of Drake’s kickoff return touchdown to help Alabama beat Clemson in the national championship game.
Then came the late-afternoon nationally televised game. Amari Cooper recorded 217 receiving yards and three touchdowns, including a touchdown to win the game on the final play of overtime.
Henry, Drake and Cooper were the standout performers last week, but they’re far from the only former Alabama players starring in the NFL.
Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November. Jackson has scored five touchdowns in his first two pro seasons. The only other defensive player to ever match that number is Erik McMillan of the New York Jets in 1988-89. Jackson still has a chance to eclipse that mark during the rest of this season.
C.J. Mosley of Theodore has been to the Pro Bowl in three of the last four seasons, including the last two. He was second-team All-Pro in each of those seasons and this year has a chance to be recognized as the best linebacker in the NFL.
Julio Jones of Foley was voted by his peers as the fourth-best player in the NFL regardless of position. His statistics so far in his career have him in the conversation for the best wide receiver to ever play in the NFL.
Jones’ teammate with the Atlanta Falcons, Calvin Ridley, would be a serious candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year if not for the year of New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.
Even wide receiver Robert Foster, who never had more than 119 receiving yards in a season while at Alabama, went for more than 100 receiving yards for the Buffalo Bills Sunday.
Also last week, former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram scored another touchdown for the surging New Orleans Saints. And Minkah Fitzpatrick started at his fourth difference position in the Miami secondary in this, his rookie season.
There isn’t enough time or newsprint available to mention every former Alabama player who is performing well in the NFL. But turn on any NFL game these days and you’ll see an Alabama player making an interception, a tackle or a touchdown.
The Bama Bust narrative was never based in fact. But the play this past week — particularly by Henry, Drake and Cooper — should put an end to any of that nonsense.
Randy Kennedy writes a weekly column for Lagniappe and is co-host of “Sports Drive” every weekday from 3-6 p.m. on WNSP 105.5 FM, the country’s first all-sports FM station.
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