Whether or not the Iron Bowl produces one of the top two football teams in the country for a 7th straight year may depend on if the Crimson Tide’s Carl Lawson and Reggie Ragland can get to Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson before he fires the ball down the field to D’haquille Williams. So why are we talking about UAB?
Because the Blazers’ Paul Dunne shot a 69, 69, and 66 at the British Open before coming back to earth, UAB football is being resurrected, and Nick Norton and William Lee could help them remain the best basketball team in the state despite Bruce Pearl revitalizing Auburn hoops.
We ran the Value Add Sports calculations on all returning Alabama athletes and emailed sports writers and other experts in the state to help rank the 25 state players to watch on a list we will update here.
Despite a lot of success in other sports, this is the state that has had one of the best two football teams six years in a row. After sharing the national title for four straight years, Auburn came a few seconds short against Florida State in January 2013 and then Alabama fell just short against an Ohio State team that then manhandled Oregon. To all the great players who will be on the football field for the 2015 Iron Bowl, you can add some great basketball players from UAB, which lost its football team for a year but has one of the nation’s top duos coming back on the basketball court.
With competition from two-sport star Bo Jackson, Hank Aaron is the greatest athlete ever from the state according to the December 23, 2012, Bleacher Report.
However, sports news was suddenly dominated by news that the University of Alabama Board had disbanded football at UAB, which has just improved to 6-6 in Conference USA. Tide fans scoffed at the idea that the state’s flagship was concerned about competition from the Blazers, but the two schools are in almost the same position as Texas and TCU were before TCU surged past the Longhorns program as recounted in our Texas preview.
The outrage in Birmingham was so great that the football program has been reinstated for next season and adds to an athletic department that is surging in basketball and golf.
The following list of student-athletes to watch also includes players from Alabama St., Samford, South Alabama, and Troy University (the largest university on the planet when considering the outlets at military bases throughout the world).
- Paul Dunne, UAB, Golf
- D’haquille Williams, Auburn Tigers, Foot, Rec
- Jeremy Johnson, Auburn Tigers, Foot, QB
- Carl Lawson, Auburn, Football, DE
- Reggie Ragland, Alabama Crimson Tide, Foot, LB
- A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama Crimson Tide, Foot, DE
- Derrick Henry, Alabama, Football, RB
- Kareem Canty, Auburn, Basketball, PG
- Nick Norton, UAB, Basket, PG
- Cole Lipscomb, Auburn, Baseball, SP
- Alexis Ferebee, Alabama State, Track/Field, 200m Dash
- William Lee, UAB, Basket, PF
- Autumnn Burnett, UAB, Track/Field, 110m High Hurdles
- Emily Carosone, Auburn, Softball,
- Kasey Cooper, Auburn, Softball,
- Kristen Dodson, Auburn, Soccer, Forward
- Alyssa Kopp, Auburn, Track/Field, Javelin
- Roc Thomas, Auburn, Football, RB
- Tyler Harris, Auburn, Basket, PF
- Mikki Lewis, Troy University, Soccer, Goalkeeper
- Robert King, South Alabama, Track/Field, Javelin
- Charde Hannah, South Alabama, Soccer, Forward
- Matt Dillon, South Alabama, Track/Field, 110m High Hurdles
- TJ Dunans, Auburn, Basket, SG
- Tony Brown, Alabama, Foot/Track,
Others receiving votes (alphabetical by first name)
- Coren Crompton, Auburn, Track/Field, Pole Vault
- Deja Hillman, Auburn, Track/Field, Triple Jump
- Ellie Leek, Auburn, Soccer, Midfielder
- Hannah Alspach, Auburn, Soccer, Forward
- Jake Knight, Auburn, Track/Field, Discus Throw
- Jamel Waters, Alabama St., Basket, PG
- Jonathan Allen, Alabama, Football, DE
- Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, Foot/Track,
- O.J. Howard, Alabama, Football, TE
- Tatiana Etienne, Alabama State, Track/Field, 400m Dash
- Tim Williams, Samford, Basket, PF
- Trey Matthews, Auburn, Football, S