As it turns out, the gang won’t all be back together when Alabama shoots for back-to-back championships.
While neither the football program nor the players have confirmed it, al.com, citing unnamed sources, is reporting that wide receiver Calvin Ridley and running back Bo Scarbrough are leaving for the April NFL draft. Alabama’s policy has been to hold a press conference to announce the NFL decisions of its draft-eligible players; that event is expected to happen at some point this week as the deadline for early entry is Monday, Jan. 15.
Ridley is expected to be one of the first, if not the first, receivers taken in the upcoming draft and is viewed as a first-round lock. Scarbrough is part of a deep stable of four- and five-star backs, so his apparent decision to move on is far from surprising.
Ridley led the Crimson Tide in receiving each of the past two seasons. In UA’s run to the 2017 national title, he was easily the Tide’s leading receiver with 63 catches and 967 yards; Scarbrough was next-closest in receptions with 17, Jerry Jeudy in yards with 264. Ridley’s five touchdown catches were second to Henry Ruggs‘ six.
In three seasons, Ridley totaled 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns on 224 catches in what was a run-heavy offense.
Scarbrough was third on the Tide in rushing each of the past two seasons, including 596 this past year. All told, he’ll finish his collegiate career with 1,512 yards and 20 touchdowns.
UPDATED 1:24 p.m. ET: So, of course, almost as soon as I hit “PUBLISH” on this post, Ridley confirmed via Twitter that he is leaving Tuscaloosa early.
The winner of the Iron Bowl has played in the national title game every year save one since 2009 and that looks like it will be the case once again given the high level of play in the first half between the two in-state rivals on the Plains this Saturday afternoon.
While the score was a bit lower than some expected coming into the game, No. 6 Auburn managed to score some points late in order to hold a slim 10-7 lead at the break and what is shaping up to be yet another classic in a series that has produced plenty of memorable moments.
Auburn’s first scoring drive began with the team backed up against their own goal line inside the 10 but several big plays (and big completions) allowed them to quickly move down to the other end of the field before running back Kerryon Johnson executed a perfect jump pass to a wide open Nate Craig-Myers just in front of the goal post. It’s not often you see Alabama’s defense give up 12 play, 94 yard drives but that was quite the scene-setter for the home side — which was fired up in the middle of the effort thanks to appearances from alums Charles Barkley and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Both sides exchanged quarterback fumbles over the next few drives before Alabama evened the scored following a key fourth down conversion just past midfield. That’s when signal-caller Jalen Hurts (4-of-8, 51 yards passing, 38 yards rushing) tossed a 36 yard bomb to Jerry Jeudy in the back of the end zone, with the young freshman creating just enough separation to haul in the touchdown and swing momentum back to the Tide’s side. In addition to the stingy defense played by Nick Saban’s team, punter J.K. Scott proved to be quite the weapon with three punts that averaged 49 yards a piece to help Alabama win the field position battle in a big way.
The visitors from Tuscaloosa do get the ball to start the second half and, while it won’t be brought up in the locker room by either coaching staff, the stakes over the final frame are absolutely massive for both sides. The winner will capture the SEC West title, a trip to Atlanta for the conference championship game and a potential berth in the College Football Playoff so it goes without saying that the pressure is about to be turned up several notches in the next few hours.