Alabama's greatest under Saban: The Allen bracket round of 32
Bummed out about the NCAA Tournament being canceled? We are too. That’s why BamaInsider created its own version of March Madness to determine who is the Crimson Tide’s greatest player in the Nick Saban era.
We have compiled a 64-player field with seed rankings of No. 1 through No. 16. The tournament will be played out throughout the month and will be determined by fan voting. Fans can vote either through BamaInsider’s Twitter account (@bamainsider) or on the Talk of Champions message board. Players will be matched up against each other with the one receiving the most total votes between both mediums advancing to the next round.
Today we continue the second round of our tournament in the Jonathan Allen bracket.
No. 1 seed Jonathan Allen vs. No. 9 seed Javier Arenas
Jonathan Allen: Arguably the best defensive player in the Saban era, Allen ranks second in Alabama’s all-time sacks list with 28.5, trailing only legendary linebacker Derrick Thomas. In 2016, Allen became the first Crimson Tide player to earn the Bednarik Award after tallying 10.5 sacks,16 tackles for a loss, 15 quarterback hurries and three fumble recoveries, two of which were returned for touchdowns. The powerful defensive lineman also earned the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award while being named SEC Defensive Player of the Year that season. Allen’s most memorable moment came during the 2016 game against Texas A&M when he soared over Aggies running back Trayveon Williams for his “Superman sack” on Trevor Knight.
Javier Arenas: Javier Arenas is one of the best returners Alabama has ever seen. The shifty defensive back is the Crimson Tide’s career record holder in both kick return yards (2,166) and punt return yards (1,752). He’s also the only player in the top five of both categories. Arenas holds the SEC record with seven career punt return touchdowns. He was was a consensus All-American during his senior season in 2009 when he helped lead Alabama to its first national championship under Saban. He recorded two interceptions during the national championship game against Texas.
No. 4 seed Landon Collins vs. No. 5 seed Barrett Jones
Landon Collins: Collins grabbed national attention when he famously chose Alabama over his home-state LSU. The Crimson Tide benefited greatly from that decision over the next three years. During his sophomore season, Collins finished second on the team with 69 tackles. The following year, he led the Crimson Tide with 102 stops, earning unanimous All-American honors. He also has five career interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. He was a member of the 2012 national championship team and was a two-time SEC champion. Collins was selected by the New York Giants in the second round of the 2015 draft and is a three-time Pro Bowler.
Barrett Jones: Jones is the most decorated player in the Saban era, earning a slew of awards during his four years at Alabama. The versatile offensive lineman started college at guard before switching to left tackle in 2011 when he earned the Outland, Wuerffel, Jacobs Blocking and Jim Parker trophies. He then switched to center during his senior season in 2012 where he earned Rimington Trophy. Jones was a consensus All-American in 2011 and 2012 and was a member of three title-winning teams at Alabama.
No. 3 seed Julio Jones vs. No. 11 seed D.J. Fluker
Julio Jones: Jones was the player who started it all for Saban at Alabama. The five-star receiver was the prize of the Crimson Tide’s famed 2008 recruiting class and didn’t disappoint upon arriving on campus. Jones ranks fifth on Alabama’s all-time receiving list (2,653 yards) and is tied for ninth on the team’s all-time touchdown reception list with 15. Those stats came without the pass-happy offenses or elite quarterbacks Alabama has seen in recent years. Jones earned SEC Freshman of the Year in 2008 before helping the Crimson Tide to its first national title under Saban the following season. Along with being the biggest receiving threat for Alabama during its title-winning season in 2009, he was also instrumental in blocking for eventual Heisman winner Mark Ingram on the perimeter. Jones was selected No. 6 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2011 NFL Draft and is a seven-time Pro Bowler.
D.J. Fluker: Fluker’s 6-foot-5, 340-pound frame is matched by an even bigger smile. Although, while he might be a gentle giant off the field, the massive offensive lineman was anything but on the gridiron. After redshirting his first season, Fluker started the next three seasons at right tackle where he led the Crimson Tide to back-to-back national championships in 2011 and 2012. Fluker was also a part of the 2009 championship team, giving him three titles in his Crimson Tide career. He earned All-American honors in 2012 and was selected No. 11 overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 2013 NFL Draft.
No. 2 seed Minkah Fitzpatrick vs. No. 7 seed Eddie Jackson
Minkah Fitzpatrick: Alabama has had plenty of talented defensive backs under Saban. None have been quite as good as Fitzpatrick. The elite defender became just the third player in NCAA history to win both the Bednarik and Thorpe awards in the same season, earning the honors during his junior year in 2017. He holds Alabama’s all-time record for interceptions returned for touchdowns with four and is tied for the single-game record for interceptions with three against Arkansas in 2016. During that game, he returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown, the longest interception return in school history. Fitzpatrick was a two-time consensus All-American (2016-17) and was apart of both the 2015 and 2017 national title teams.
Eddie Jackson: A former two-way player in high school, Jackson played defensive back during his time at Alabama. However, that didn’t stop the elusive playmaker from being a threat to score every time he touched the football. He finished his four-year career with three interceptions returned for touchdowns while also bringing back two punts for scores. Jackson holds Alabama’s all-time record for interception return yards with 303. He also holds the single-season mark with 230 yards in 2015, including a single-game 119 yards off two interceptions against Texas A&M that year. A broken leg cut Jackson’s senior season short in 2016. However, he still earned second-team All-SEC honors that year despite playing in eight games.