Alabama's Biggest Unsung Hero has also been the Crimson Tide's Most Resilient

All Things CW looks at the most unheralded player on the Crimson Tide, the position groups to watch moving forward and the key to the rest of the 2020 season
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We've seen it play out over and over this season. 

There's a player down and and it looked bad. Finally the television cameras zero and the No. 87 is legible. It's a shoulder, an ankle or he got hit from behind and bent backward in a way that the human body is not meant to go. 

You're thinking he could be out for the season, only senior tight end Miller Forristall was back on the field the next quarter. 

No one on the Alabama football team needed the bye week and extra time off when LSU couldn't play last week more that Forristall, yet during his media session with reporters this week the subject of injuries didn't even come up. 

"I think everyone’s mental clock, especially if you’ve played here the last couple of years, you know where we would be in the season," Forristall said. "We had an elongated, a weird camp and obviously a weird summer, but it’s something you have to adjust to. 

"This year is unlike anything we’ve had, the coaches have had. Older guys like myself are like, ‘Wait a minute, this is not where we’d be regularly.’ It’s just another challenge, and whoever can adapt to that challenge best will succeed this year."

Having numerous veteran players is often a key to a successful college football season, but this year it seems to be at another level. Among the teams that had the most returning lettermen and starters included Texas A&M, Northwestern, Oklahoma State and Indiana. All are ranked. 

They're all behind Alabama as well. Offensively, the Crimson Tide returned four starting offensive linemen, the top two running backs, two top-level wide receivers (although Jaylen Waddle got hurt) AND Forristall. 

He's been Alabama's most unheralded player, or unsung hero if you will, especially because of all the little things he does. 

"We recruited Miller Forristall because he came to camp and he was very athletic," Nick Saban said about the tight end's improvement over the years. "He only weighed about 220 pounds. We knew he was going to be a developmental guy. He’s a really good receiver. He has good hands. He’s a really good athlete so we knew it was going to take some time to get to 240-245 pounds and that he was going to develop as a blocker. 

"He knew it. We knew it. He worked hard at it. We coached him hard to get it and because of the kind of person, the kind of character he has — you are talking about a great person with lots of character — he’s driven to be the best. So he makes strides on a daily, weekly, yearly basis and now he’s a pretty complete player for us."

Alabama's patience with the redshirt senior has really paid off. 

He's caught just 10 passes for 141 yards with one touchdown, yet the key to his rise has been his blocking. Remember, Forristall was a quarterback in high school before some guy named Trevor Lawrence came along, and it's taken him years to learn all the nuances of the position. 

Fans wonder how the Alabama offense is going to try and compensate for the loss of injured wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, and while there's no way to replicate his speed one key will be getting more people involved in the offense.

Forristall is part of that. He has the confidence of his quarterback and teammates, and does a lot more than catch passes. 

More importantly, he's the kind of player that teams need to have in order to contend for championships. 

SEE ALSO: Alabama Tight End Miller Forristall Not Surprised by Mac Jones' Success

More on Forristall ... 

• He may not be a contender for the Mackey Award as the best tight end in college football, but Forristall is in the running for the Wuerffel Trophy for community service. 

• Forristall has had numerous injuries during his career, including a torn ACL in 2017, but it was ironic that he suffered a throat injury last year. He's the best quote on the team. Nicknames have been a good example. Forrsitall was the one who revealed that former tight end Giles Amos was called "Trailer Park Jesus" On quarterback Mac Jones being called Joker, said: “Oh gosh. He like cackles a little. Less of a laugh and more of a high-pitched cackle, and that’s kind of where it came from. ... More Batman villain type. That’s kind of where we attribute that.”

• Remember when Forristall said last year that the tight ends had taken exception to all the talk about them being the weakest link of the offense? His quote is now quite telling: "It's kind of just 'do your job, do things right and the right things will happen."

• On Sunday, Forristall shared on Twitter that he got engaged to his girlfriend, former Alabama soccer player Abby Lutzenkirchen. Yes, the sister of the former Auburn tight end late Philip Lutzenkirchen, who died in a car crash in 2014. "It was a good win on the bye weekend," he said. Congrats to the couple and the family. 

Alabama down the stretch 

• A lot of attention is being given to Jones, who absolutely should be on the short list for the Heisman Trophy, but if Alabama's offensive line isn't a serious contender for the Tom Moore Award as the best in college football it'll be shocking. 

• The unit that has the potential to step up the most the rest of the season is the defensive line. The three starters really have yet to play together due to injuries. Christian Barmore (knee) has had two weeks of rest and LaBryan Ray (elbow) is getting very close to returning. 

• The most important thing to watch the rest of the regular season is whether Alabama keeps improving. It'll be heavily favored for each game regardless of if the LSU game is rescheduled, but it'll be the teams that get better the most from here on out that will have the best chance at winning the national championship. 

Kentucky Still Dealing With Tragic Loss 

The news cycle is going faster than ever, even in the sport world, but it's only been a week since Kentucky got the horrible news that offensive line coach John Schlarman had died after a two-year battle with cancer. 

Schlarman was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma in the summer of 2018. He coached throughout his treatments and did not miss a game until the two prior to Saturday's 38-35 victory over Vanderbilt. 

Kentucky lined up for the first offensive play from scrimmage without a player manning the left guard spot, which was Schlarman’s position during his playing days with the Wildcats from 1994-97. Vanderbilt declined the delay of game penalty, and Landon Young was sent on the field afterward to complete the Wildcats’ offensive line — while wearing No. 65, which had been Schlarman’s number.

Kentucky players wore “JS” on their helmets as well.

Stoops gave Schlarman the game ball after an Oct. 17 win at Tennessee, which was Schlarman’s last game.

“The bottom line is to honor John by playing the way he coached, lived his life, and we constantly talked about the tenacity that he had, the toughness that he had, but also when he was a player he was extremely technical and very detailed,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said after the win.

The Wildcats did just that against the Commodores, rushing for 308 yards on 35 carries.

Doing so will be a lot tougher against Alabama, and one has to wonder how Kentucky's emotions may be a little different at Bryant-Denny Stadium. But Schlarman will certainly still be on everyone's minds.  

"We lost a member of our family. We lost our coach and someone who was a father figure to every offensive lineman that's come through this program," Young said. "One of the toughest, greatest men I've met in my life. Having the opportunity to wear his number was a blessing for me."

Did you Notice?

• Jeremy Wood's 10 Final Thoughts on the 2020 NBA Draft include a couple that include former Alabama guard Kira Lewis Jr. 

• The Heartbreak of the Black Belt: A Story of Survival in Small-Town America

• Michigan State vs. Maryland Canceled; Coach Mike Locksley Tests Positive for COVID-19

• What Kim Ng's ascent means to the women of baseball

Christopher Walsh's notes column All Things CW regularly appears on BamaCentral