By Drew Taylor
No words were needed between them.
As former Crimson Tide center Ross Pierschbacher spoke to reporters at Denny Chimes Saturday morning, running back Damien Harris walked up next to him, smiling as he put his arm around his longtime teammate. Without interruption, Pierschbacher continued the interview, patting Harris on the chest. After a few moments, Harris walked away.
The moment was typical of the way Harris and Pierschbacher, both of whom were 2018 team captains along with Christian Miller and Hale Hentges, leaned on each other throughout their careers at Alabama.
“The way that Coach (Nick) Saban runs his program, that really inspires us to get close and play for one another,” Harris said. “It’s good to play for the coaches and the fans, but at the end of the day, we’re playing for each other.”
On Saturday, the four men were there for one another once again as they were honored during the annual Walk of Fame ceremony. During the ceremony, only a couple of hours before the A-Day Game, the men joined the ranks of more than 200 men who have played for Alabama as they placed their hands and feet into cement in the shadow of the bell tower.
Albeit for a few years in the 1970s, captains have taken part in the Walk of Fame tradition since 1947, including such iconic Alabama players like Harry Gilmer, Ken Stabler, Joe Namath, Ozzie Newsome and many others.
Although some of the names and handprints have been worn down over the years, the captains still feel the weight of the Walk of Fame.
“When you walk down here and you look at these names and all the players that have been through here and all the handprints, it tells a story,” Miller said. “There’s a story for each of these plates and looking at it, it means a lot to see your name among them.
“It’s something truly special and something you shouldn’t take for granted.”
Before being named team captains for the season, all four men had been leaders on the team, earning national recognition in their respective positions. While each of them is hoping to hear good news when the NFL Draft comes later this month, the players did not take their time at Alabama for granted.
“Growing up and coming through the program, you see all the older guys do it and you hope that one day, it can be you,” Pierschbacher said. “It’s capping off a great career and great time here at the University, so it’s awesome.”
As the men gathered to etch their hands in Alabama history, Saban offered a few words on what they were ultimately able to accomplish.
“I think in a day and age where there are a lot of followers, these guys were exemplary and the example they set was a commitment to excellence,” Saban said.
For Saban, a good leader represents someone who has the passion to do the job right, set a good example and be someone others can follow, qualities he felt each player carried through.
“These four men did as good a job of that as any we’ve ever had,” he said. “I think these guys will be very successful in life because of who they are, what they were able to accomplish and we’re very proud of them.”
Hentges said he was touched by Saban’s words.
“Coming from a guy who has coached so many players, I can’t thank Coach Saban enough for all he’s done for me, so the least I can do is be a good leader for his team,” he said.
Pierschbacher said it will be nice to bring his children back to Alabama one day to see his handprints and footprints beneath Denny Chimes.
“It’s just a really special moment and something I’ll cherish forever,” he said.
Reach Drew Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0204.