In lieu of a real A-Day Game, Cecil Hurt and Brett Hudson selected their own A-Day Teams. Here are the full teams, and here is Hurt’s column describing his draft philosophy.
Whether it’s founded in bravado or realism, there is a certain level of truth to the claim that Alabama has backups on its football team that would start for most other Power 5 schools.
In some cases, the transfer portal proves that claim. In most others, the A-Day Game gives fans more reason to believe it.
A-Day Games of the recent past have become more than spring finales for fans — and a way to sell a lot of concessions. They have become a way for UA to showcase its wild depth of talent, both the talent that will achieve national fame in the regular season and the talent that will wait behind those that do. Being the one that sorts that talent proved to be a mentally grueling task.
My primary objective was to get the advantage at positions where there is a noticeable gap between the projected starter and potential backups. Najee Harris could end his senior season as UA’s career rushing yards leader; none of the running backs behind him have more than 500 yards in a single season. That’s enough separation for me.
Next week’s NFL Draft will show how little UA has returning at safety, when Xavier McKinney likely goes in the first round and Jared Mayden and Shyheim Carter hope for later selections. Jordan Battle is the lone safety with anything resembling consistent playing time from 2019; Team Brett will benefit from that presence, but possibly not as much as Team Cecil Hurt will benefit from the same dynamic at cornerback with Patrick Surtain II.
There are plenty of positions where no such separation exists (more on those later), and the offensive line is the bridge between the two.
There are four returning starters with significant value (and Hurt got three of them, possibly paving his way to a win on their size alone), but there is plenty of value on the second string. Given the versatility of Landon Dickerson, Evan Neal and Deonte Brown, all able to play more than one position, the new starter in the group could come at center (Darrian Dalcourt), guard (Emil Ekiyor Jr., Kendall Randolph and Chris Owens are all options) or tackle (Tommy Brown or others).
They may not be the returning starters that Hurt has, but they are projectable starters, which is better than one could do at several other positions.
Let there be no confusion: it was clear within a few picks that both Hurt and I were in this draft to win it. We were not burdened by the need to get certain players a given number of reps, or against certain competition for position battle purposes. That being the case, we lucked our way into an intriguing setup for what would have been one of the biggest draws of the 2020 A-Day Game: newcomers at linebacker.
Chris Braswell and Will Anderson Jr. on Team Cecil are balanced by Demuoy Kennedy and Drew Sanders on Team Brett. They already have the future of one of UA’s trademark positions thrust on their shoulders, and they would have been granted an early chance to prove their mettle.
Hurt and I thoroughly enjoyed the mental exercise of putting these teams together. The reward: more longing for what we’re missing.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @brett_hudson
WR Slade Bolden
OL Deonte Brown
OL Pierce Quick
DL Justin Eboigbe
DL Stephon Wynn
LB Christian Harris
LB Chris Braswell
LB Will Anderson Jr.
WR John Metchie III
OL Darrian Dalcourt
OL Kendall Randolph
DL Phidarian Mathis
DL Byron Young
LB Christopher Allen
LB Ale Kaho
LB Demouy Kennedy