The Saban 250: The Players who made the Biggest Impact at Alabama

BamaCentral marks the end of the Nick Saban coaching era with the definitive rankings of his top 250 players with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Dec 6, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban smiles as he addresses the media following their 42-13 win over the Missouri Tigers in the 2014 SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 6, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban smiles as he addresses the media following their 42-13 win over the Missouri Tigers in the 2014 SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It was the greatest run in college football history, and the dynasty of dynasties.

When Nick Saban left the Miami Dolphins for the University of Alabama football program in 2007, his critics and detractors didn’t hold back. They questioned the declaration that he wanted to be a college coach, predicted his stay with the Crimson Tide would be brief, and waited for the day they could say “I told you so.”

It never happened. During just his second year, Saban’s new program was in the SEC Championship Game. A year later it won the national championship, the first of six during the magical era, giving the coach the all-time lead with seven.

But that was only the beginning. Consider a sampling of what his players accomplished:

• 133 players selected in the NFL draft, including a record 44 in the first round. For 16 straight years, the Crimson Tide had at least one player selected in the first round, topping the remarkable string set by Miami (1995-2008).

• 46 selections as consensus first-team All-Americans, by 41 different players. The 41 alone would tie for the 17th most by any program in NCAA history.

• 109 first-team All-SEC selections, with another 68 second-team honors, 175 total over 17 seasons. On average, that’s nearly half of the starters of a given team.

We could sit here and tell you that from 2008, until this last season when overtime was needed to eliminate the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff, Alabama was ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Poll at some point of every season — 15 years. Previously, the longest streak was seven years (Miami, 1986-92).

However, Saban’s greatest asset, on top of being a game-planner, decision-making and maybe the best recruiter of all-time, was as a teacher. To truly put a cap on what the coach accomplished, we’ve gone back and updated our list of the top 100 Crimson Tide players during his era, initially composed in 2020. Only now it’s 250 players, which will be released as a series prior to SEC Media Days in July.

We knew with the Saban Top 100, it was anything but the final word. That subsequent season, DeVonta Smith won the program’s third Heisman Trophy, Mac Jones posted the strongest single-season passing numbers in program history, and Najee Harris was on his way to becoming Alabama’s all-time rushing king.

But now Saban has coached his last game, so at least the active body of work is completed. It’s time to go back and re-rank the players. This time, we’re listing the top 200 in order: 95 offensive and defensive players, plus 10 on special teams.

Circling back to those draft, All-American and all-conference numbers, they’re a very strong indication of where the cutoff line was drawn.

Here’s how the rankings were composed:

  • They’re strongly based on accomplishments.
  • A player pretty much had to be a starter to be considered.
  • The NFL draft was included as a factor, as it’s largely based on what players did in college. NFL statistics were not considered.
  • Players who transferred out, or left the team for whatever reason, were in the mix, but not having a full career slate was obviously limiting. In some cases, it was the deciding factor regarding inclusion.
  • Only the seasons under Saban are listed in the player bios. Statistics from before 2007 may be included, but were not a factor. While that’s a little unfair to the players from the previous coaching regime, the same holds true for the rostered players at the end of Saban’s career as well.

As for the final 50, the first three days of the series will be a sort of “players to remember” section, with statistics often taking a back seat in importance. It includes those who made significant contributions in a variety of ways, plus some fan favorites. There will be 20 offensive and defensive players, along with 10 from special teams.

The initial version of this project began with: ”Those reading this entire series will probably have the same reaction over and over again …‘That guy should be higher up on the list.’ And the person will be correct, nearly every time.”

That’s the point. Enjoy, and have fun both reminiscing and debating.

20 Offensive Players Not to Forget ...

Justin Britt, G, 2004-07

 Began his Crimson Tide career as a defensive lineman, making 12 tackles, including two for a loss and a sack. However, he moved to the offensive side and was the starting left guard in 2007

Marlon Davis, G, 2007-08

 Two-year starter at right guard at the beginning of the Nick Saban era, when the Crimson Tide was very much a run-first team

Darrian Dalcourt, OL, 2019-23

Dalcourt played in 39 games for the Crimson Tide and was considered at least a part-time starter for three seasons while also dealing with injuries. He started 11 games at center in 2021, five games in 2022, and focused primarily on playing guard during his final season and again made five starts

Gehrig Dieter, WR, 2016

 His contributions didn’t always show on the stat sheet, but Dieter went from SMU, to being having a 1,000-yard season at Bowling Green, to being a starting during his lone season at Alabama. He had 15 receptions for 214 yards and four touchdowns. And yes, he’s named after Lou Gehrig

CJ Dippre, TE, 2023*

Transferred from Maryland for what would be Nick Saban’s final season and won the starting job. Caught 11 passes for 187 yards and made key blocks on the outside to aid the running game

Robert Foster, WR, 2014-17

 A shoulder injury snuffed out his promising start to the 2015 season, but he came back and earned a starting role his senior year. Finished career with 35 receptions for 389 yards and three touchdowns

Brandon Gibson, WR, 2009-11

Won a starting role his final season, finished his career with 20 receptions for 204 yards and a touchdown at Ole Miss. Also returned a blocked kick for a touchdown

Baron Huber, FB, 2007-09

He may have caught just two passes, and didn’t have a single carry during the Nick Saban era, but was Mark Ingram’s fullback when he won the Heisman Trophy

Korren Kirven, OL, 2013-16

Started off as a defensive lineman and switched over to guard for his final two seasons. Played in 26 career games, including all 15 in 2016, when he started the last six games of his collegiate career

Kendrick Law, WR, 2022-23*

In two years, he’s played in 24 games and made 23 receptions for 238 yards, while also playing a key role on special teams. Last season he also had 17 kick returns for 405 yards and made two tackles. What we really like about him, though, is his downfield blocking

Sep 23, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Kendrick Law (19) is hit by Mississippi Rebels safety John Saunders Jr. (5) during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Kendrick Law (19) is hit by Mississippi Rebels safety John Saunders Jr. (5) during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports / Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Seth McLaughlin, C, 2020-2023

Moved up to starting center near the end of the 2021 season, and played in 11 games during the 2022 season, making eight starts and taking 913 snaps. Snap issues plagued him in 2023, and McLaughlin subsequently transferred, but the 24 career starts for the Crimson Tide were anything but inconsequential

Alfred McCullough, 2009-11

 Guys like McCullough never get anywhere near the credit they deserve. The versatile lineman switched over from the defensive side was like the ultimate sixth man who could, and often did, comfortably play at either offensive guard or tackle spot. He played in 31 games for the Crimson Tide

Jam Miller, RB, 2022-23*

 Through first two seasons ground out 424 rushing yards on 74 carries with three touchdowns, plus four receptions for 72 yards and another score. The really fun thing for Alabama fans was that they could tell he was just getting started

Richard Mullaney, WR, 2015

The 6-3 receiver played just one season in Tuscaloosa after transferring from Oregon State, but won a starting role and tallied 38 receptions for 390 yards and five touchdowns

Amari Niblack, TE, 2022-23

Became a receiving threat by averaging 16.3 yards per catch during his two seasons in Tuscaloosa. Had 20 catches for 327 yards and four touchdowns before transferring at the end of his sophomore year

Chris Owens, OL, 2017-21

A rare offensive lineman who could truly play anywhere up front and played multiple positions for the Crimson Tide. Made 20 career starts, including 12 games at right tackle and one at center in 2021

Jaeden Roberts, G, 2022-23*

Moved into the starting lineup as a redshirt sophomore during Nick Saban’s final season and continued to improve. For example, against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, he had a game- and career-high six knockdown blocks while not surrendering a quarterback hit or a pressure (he missed just one assignment)

Cam Sims, WR, 2014-17

Made a career out of defying naysayers, the 6-5 receiver played in 41 games and made 34 receptions for 405 yards. Maybe his biggest play was the touchdown-saving tackle on punt coverage against Georgia in the national title game

Brian Vogler, TE, 2011-14

He wasn’t the biggest threat in the passing game, but Vogler was a three-year starter who made 17 receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns

Matt Womack, OL, 2016-19

Earned the starting right tackle job as a sophomore in 2017, but then ran into injury problems. The versatile, 6-7 lineman made 15 career starts with 14 at right tackle in 2017 and one at right guard in 2019

The Saban Legacy: By the numbers

Tomorrow: 20 Defensive Players Not to Forget ...

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Christopher Walsh


Christopher Walsh is the founder and publisher of BamaCentral, which first published in 2018. He's covered the Crimson Tide since 2004, and is the author of 26 books including Decade of Dominance, 100 Things Crimson Tide Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, Nick Saban vs. College Football, and Bama Dynasty: The Crimson Tide's Road to College Football Immortality. He's an eight-time honoree of Football Writers Association of America awards and three-time winner of the Herby Kirby Memorial Award, the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s highest writing honor for story of the year. In 2022, he was named one of the 50 Legends of the ASWA. Previous beats include the Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, along with Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Originally from Minnesota and a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, he currently resides in Tuscaloosa.