SEC offensive coordinators will tell you Alabama’s defense is loaded with freaks (or in the case of Jonathan Allen, superheroes). But two players who figure to be a key part of the defense stand have physical tools that are among the best in college football.
Defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne and defensive back Tony Brown were both named to Bruce Feldman’s annual ‘Freaks List’ of the most gifted athletes in college football. Payne checked in at No. 8, while Brown registered at No. 15.
Payne played a hefty role on the defensive line as a freshman in 2015 and became a full-time starter last year. He plugged the middle of the defense with 36 tackles, including 3.5 for loss. He also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery against Ole Miss.
According to Feldman, Payne ran a 5.03 40-yard dash and bench pressed 545 pounds while weighing in at 310.
Brown became Alabama’s nickel back last year when an injury to Eddie Jackson shuffled the secondary. He missed the first four games of the season but still finished with 32 tackles and two interceptions. He’s been an important contributor on special teams and finished his undergraduate degree in May after just three years on campus. He’ll be a senior this fall.
Brown is also a key piece of the Alabama track team in the spring. He qualified for the NCAA championships and ran 10.12 in the 100-meter dash while also running the anchor leg of Alabama’s 4×100 team. Feldman says he also benched pressed 400 pounds, double his 198-pound bodyweight.
Both players should be starters for Alabama again this season. You can check out the first installment of Feldman’s list with Nos. 40-21 here. The full list includes six other SEC players that Alabama will face this year. Clemson was the only other school with multiple players on the list.
You can follow Bruce Feldman on Twitter here.