Why Alabama will win the SEC in 2018 (and probably the National Championship)

Written by Garin Turner

The Crimson Tide are the reigning and defending National Champions so it’s no surprise that they’re at the top of the list. Every single year they’re in contention for a national championship. It would take three losses (something that hasn’t happened since 2010) to knock them out of contention. Alabama is 5-2 since the College Football Playoff system was implemented.

Alabama is the classic case of a team never rebuilding but always reloading. Every year they send multiple players to the National Football League and every year, somebody steps in and fills the void left behind. If the NFL ever changes the rules to where college players can enter the draft after their freshmen or even sophomore years, Alabama would most likely lead the pack for players doing so. Many of their third and fourth string players could start virtually anywhere else in college football.

Key departures:

Bo Scarbrough (RB), Calvin Ridley (WR), Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB), Ronnie Harrison (DB), Da’Ron Payne (DT), Anthony Averett (DB), Tony Brown (DB), Rashaan Evans (LB), Da’Shawn Hand (DE), and JK Scott (P)

Key returners:

Alabama returns nine starters on offense and five on defense.

Incoming Freshmen: Alabama has a class of 20 student athletes for the 2018 season. The class is ranked 6th by ESPN, 5th by Scout, and 10th by Rivals. 14 of the 20 are in ESPN’s Top 300 of high school recruits. Eyabi Anoma was the number one rated defensive end coming out of high school and the third rated player overall. Patrick Surtain Jr. was the number one cornerback and the fifth overall player. Saivion Smith was the number one cornerback out of junior college.

Things to watch for

Quarterback battle: Quarterback Jalen Hurts was good last season but was inconsistent passing the ball at times and struggled in the 2018 CFP National Championship Game against Georgia. Highly recruited backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa replaced Hurts at halftime and helped lead the Crimson Tide to a victory. At the time, he was a true freshman and because of that, his impressive performance in the second half raised a lot of eyebrows.

To put this quarterback battle in perspective, Hurts led Alabama to back-to-back National Championship Games, won SEC Offensive Player of the Year in his freshman season, started 27 games and passed for 2,081 yards with 17 touchdowns and just one interception last season. Yet, there are talks that Tagovailoa might be the starter this season.

Wide Receiver: Who will step up to replace Calvin Ridley who was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL Draft this year? Ridley finished his career at Alabama with 224 receptions, 2,781 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns. Henry Ruggs III led the team in touchdown receptions with six last year. DeVonta Smith returns after he was the hero in the National Championship Game, catching the game-winning 41-yard touchdown pass.

Defensive Back: Despite losing four defensive backs to the NFL, the Crimson Tide return 12 players from last year’s team and five more joining the team as freshmen. Somebody will have to step up, it’s just a matter of who this year.

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