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Crimson Tide Top 5: Offensive Line

Throughout the month of June, Bama Central writers will pick the best five players in each Alabama sport, and for each position group in football

When it comes to offensive linemen, Alabama football has an incredibly rich history.

It's almost upsetting how many offensive linemen have to be left off of this list in order to narrow it down to a top five. No doubt that today's list will be a hotly-debated one.

The honorable mentions list could run for quite some time, but here are some of the stellar linemen that were left off of today's list: Vaughn Mancha, Billy Neighbors, Don Whitmore, Jim Bunch, Justin Smiley, Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, Evan Mathis, Antoine Caldwell, and Andre Smith among many others.

That should give you an idea of how difficult today's list was to make.

Some other recent stellar offensive linemen such as Landon Dickerson and Alex Leatherwood were also left off of the list. Being left off of the list does not in any way negate the absent players' accomplishments. Rather, it elevates the accomplishments of those that were included.

With that being said, here's the top five offensive linemen in Alabama football history:

5. Sylvester Croom

Sylvester Croom helped break many barriers at Alabama as one of its first Black players under legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.

Along with helping the Crimson Tide win three SEC titles and a national title during his time in the trenches, Croom was named a Kodak All-American and earned the Jacobs Blocking Trophy. His senior season, he was named Outstanding Player on the team.

After his days in Tuscaloosa reached their conclusion, Croom served as a running backs coach at various teams in the NFL from 1987-2003 before making history as the SEC's first Black coach. Croom coached at Mississippi State from 2004-2008 and was named SEC Coach of the Year in 2007.

Croom is currently on the 2022 College Football Hall of Fame ballot.

4. Barrett Jones

You could honestly include Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker alongside Barrett Jones on this list, as the trio combined to form one of the best offensive line units in Alabama program history.

Behind Jones, Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mark Ingram was able to rush for over 3,100 yards and 42 touchdowns in 2009. Behind the trio in the trenches, the Crimson Tide was able to win its first national title since the Gene Stallings era in 1992.

Among other awards, Jones earned the Wuerffel Trophy, Outland Trophy and Jacobs Blocking Trophy — all in 2011.

Jones finished his time at Alabama as a two-time SEC champion and a three-time national champion.

Jones was selected as the 113th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams.

3. Chris Samuel

In the 1990s, there was no better pass protector than Chris Samuel.

In 42 starts, Chris Samuel did not give up a single sack. In his senior season of 1999, Samuel recorded 91 knockdown blocks and helped lead running back Shaun Alexander to an incredibly successful season.

Also in 1999, Samuel recorded quite the list of accolades. On top of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy and the Outland Trophy, Samuel was named a Consensus All-American and First Team All-SEC.

Samuel was drafted as the third overall pick of the first round of the NFL Draft in 2000 by the Washington Redskins. In 10 seasons in the NFL, Samuel played in six Pro Bowls. He was also named All-Pro in 2001.

Samuel finished his career on the 80 Greatest Redskins list.

2. Dwight Stephenson

Bryant once called Dwight Stephenson the greatest player he ever coached, regardless of position.

Never one to mince words, that was said with good reason.

An All-American in 1979, Stephenson helped block Alabama to three-straight SEC titles in 1977, 1978 and 1979 and three Sugar Bowl Championships in those same years. In 1978 and 1979, both Sugar Bowls were for national titles.

Stephenson is a member of both Alabama's All-Century Team and 1970s All-Decade Team.

Taken by the Miami Dolphins as the 48th overall pick of the 1980 NFL Draft, Stephenson spent eight seasons in professional football. Along with starting 87 of 114 games, Stephenson was named a Pro Bowler in five of his eight seasons. All five times, he was named All-Pro.

Stephenson made the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1980s and earned the Walter Payton Man of the Year honor in 1985.

1. John Hannah

Was there ever any doubt of who would be No. 1 on this list?

Conflicting himself before Stephenson arrived on campus, Bryant called Hannah the best offensive lineman that he had ever coached. Hannah was a two-time All-American in 1971 and 1972, where he lead the team to two SEC titles in those same years. He was also named to Alabama's All-Century Team and All-Decade Team in the 1980s.

In 1999, Hannah was also named to the College Football Hall of Fame.

In 1973, Hannah was selected as the fourth-overall pick by the New England Patriots. He played 183 games over the course of his career and appeared in nine Pro Bowls. He was also named All-Pro a grand total of 10 times. He was named to both the 1970s and 1980s NFL All-Decade Teams.

In 1991, Hannah was the first Patriot to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In response, his number 73 was retired by the organization. He was also the first member of the Patriots organization's Hall of Fame.

The Crimson Tide Top 5 will appear every day during the month of June on BamaCentral.

Crimson Tide Top 5: Introduction



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