Not surprisingly, Alabama is losing handful of underclassmen to the NFL — albeit a smaller handful than some had projected.
At the schools annual press conference for junior NFL announcements, a trio of Crimson Tide football players — cornerback Marlon Humphrey, offensive tackle Cam Robinson, wide receiver ArDarius Stewart (pictured) — confirmed that they will be leaving Tuscaloosa and make themselves available for the April NFL draft.
Robinson has been an All-American the past two seasons after earning Freshman All-American as a true freshman in 2014. He was a consensus All-American this season. Humphrey was also a Freshman All-American his redshirt season in 2015 before joining Robinson this season as an All-American.
This season, Stewart led the Tide in receiving yards (864), receiving touchdowns (eight) and yards per catch (16). His 54 receptions were second on the national title runners-up. The 6-1, 204-pound receiver finishes his ‘Bama career with 129 catches, 1,713 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Both Robinson and Humphrey were given first-round grades from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee. Stewart received an “other” grade.
There was some good news on the early-entry front as defensive backs Anthony Averett and Tony Brown, who both had considered leaving early, ultimately decided to return to Tuscaloosa for another season.
Clemson had a bit of an injury scare in the firsts quarter when wide receiver Mike Williams was knocked out of the game following a helmet-to-helmet hit, but a sideline report from ESPN’s broadcast says he has been cleared to return to the game.
Williams was on the receiving end of a helmet-to-helmet hit with Alabama’s Tony Brown, who came in late on a tackle effort. There was no foul called on the play for the hit, which was arguably a missed targeting call.
The hit occurred in the first quarter of the game, and was the second questionable targeting incident of the quarter by Alabama. Reuben Foster was flagged for a late hit on Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson on an earlier Tigers possession, but was not called for targeting. No review was called from the booth for targeting either.
A relatively quiet offseason for the defending national champions has suddenly gotten a little louder.
According to the Tuscaloosa News, Alabama defensive back Tony Brown has been indefinitely suspended by the NCAA. “The university has appealed and is awaiting a decision,” the News writes.
There is no official word on the reason or reasons behind the suspension, although the speculation is that it pertains to some sort of impermissible benefits/contacts.
In December of last year, Brown was sent home from the Cotton Bowl for a violation of team rules. It was subsequently reported that Brown had started a fight with a teammate during the College Football Playoff semifinal and the Tide’s leadership council decided to send him home. That incident also led Brown to miss the win over Clemson in the national championship game.
Brown, a five-star 2014 signee, was arrested in mid-January of last year on charges of failure to obey and resisting arrest, although he managed to escape Nick Saban’s doghouse that time and tie for the lead in special teams tackles in the regular season. Provided he can get past this latest hurdle, Brown’s expected to compete for a starting job.
For what it’s worth, Brown has participated throughout the first half of the Tide’s spring practice sessions.
As Alabama gets set to tangle with Michigan State, we now (reportedly) know a little bit more behind why one Tide player won’t take part in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
Wednesday, Nick Saban announced in a statement that “[w]e have made an internal decision to send Tony Brown home due to a violation of team rules.” The defensive back had been practicing with his teammates in the run-up to the Cotton Bowl, and that’s apparently where the “violation of team rules” surfaced.
Citing sources, al.com‘s Matt Zenitz reported earlier today that Brown started a fight with an unnamed Tide defensive lineman during a practice session earlier this week. Zenitz adds that “[t]he decision to send Brown home was made by the Tide’s player leadership council,” which explains Saban’s statement labeling it as an “internal decision.”
Brown, a five-star 2014 signee, was arrested in mid-January of this year on charges of failure to obey and resisting arrest, although he managed to escape Saban’s doghouse and tie for the lead in special teams tackles this season. What if any impact this development will have on Brown’s future, given that off-field indiscretion, remains to be seen.
Clemson confirmed earlier today that it had sent three players home from its College Football Playoff venue in Miami because of what were reportedly failed drug tests. This afternoon, the other playoff venue has seen its first bit of off-field “controversy.”
In a very brief press release, Alabama announced that an internal decision has been made to send Tony Brown (pictured, No. 7) home from Arlington, where UA is preparing for its playoff semifinal matchup with Michigan State tomorrow night in the Cotton Bowl. The stated reason given by the school was, of course, unspecified violation of team rules.
The defensive back played in all 13 games this season, although in only six did he see action on defense as most of his playing time came on special teams. On the season, he was tied for the team lead in special teams tackles with eight. Prior to this year, Brown had played in 13 games, making two starts.
A five-star member of the Tide’s 2014 recruiting class, Brown was rated as the No. 4 cornerback in the country; the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 25 player overall according to Rivals.com. No recruit in UA’s top-rated class that year was rated higher than Brown, although his biggest impact during his two seasons in Tuscaloosa has been on special teams.