QB John Parker Wilson

2007 Statistics

Coach: Nick Saban
7-6, 1 year
2007 Record: 7-6
at Vanderbilt WON 24-10
vs. Florida State LOST 14-21
at Mississippi WON 27-24
at Mississippi State LOST 12-17
at Auburn LOST 10-17
Colorado WON 30-24

2007 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

When Alabama hired Nick Saban, fans expected the world from the $4 million man. But last year he didn't live up to his promise as he inherited a bunch that just wasn't ready for the intensity he delivers (they lacked discipline, as evidenced by numerous arrests since he took over). Tireless recruiter Saban has quickly made waves, cleaning up the state in recruiting and taking home the nation’s top-ranked class by most evaluating services. Offensive coordinator Jim McElwain was brought in to revive an offense that struggled late last year and to help quarterback John Parker Wilson make winning plays instead of losing ones. McElwain's overall goal? Repair the shattered confidence of Wilson, who led the downward spiral of Alabama's season (arguably starting with an interception at the end of the first half in a loss to Mississippi State that was returned 103 yards for a score). Wilson was never the same after that, save a few drives in the Independence Bowl.

McElwain brings in a balanced approach; his Fresno State unit averaged more than 200 yards both rushing and passing per game last year. That balance is what the Tide will need to take the pressure off Wilson and make a run with the ground game. But, that run game may not have anyone to get the tough yards when needed. Remember the loss to lowly Louisiana-Monroe? Alabama was stuffed late in the game on third- and fourth-down with less than a yard to go. The hope is that freshmen Mark Ingram and Ivan Matchett are mentally ready for the SEC demands, because they are physically there. Either that, or Alabama will have to rely on some oft-injured and smallish running backs yet again.

The defense has some key talent back, but its best players could be the guys Saban has scouted in the new recruiting class. The old saying of "you lose one game per every true freshman starter" will test Alabama's defense, as two young linebackers and a fresh-faced safety could creep their way into the starting lineup. The front seven just isn't yet full of SEC-caliber players, but another year in Saban's strenuous off-season weight program should at least add some strength, if nothing else. New players will be counted on from the get-go, but it should be a couple more top-notch recruiting classes before the defense is near the greatness that Alabama fans have grown up expecting.

There's no question this team will be improved, but by how many wins? Saban wanted to get rid of the patsies on the non-conference schedule, so he was able to finagle a season-opener against Clemson at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. That will give Alabama an early look at what it has against a team sure to be ranked. Road games at Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and LSU will no doubt be the toughest challenge. Alabama can't discount those Sun Belt teams anymore after last year's ULM debacle, and this year, Arkansas State and Western Kentucky will come to Tuscaloosa on a high, thinking they for once have a shot at this storied program. Don't forget Auburn at home in the final game of the year, as the Tigers have won six straight and still haven't lost in Tuscaloosa. No matter how good this team is, whether it wins six, eight, or 10 games, the lasting memory in fans' minds this year will take place on Nov. 29, when Alabama tries to erase those six years of misery.

Returning the Tide to the nation’s elite is a long-term project, and fans know that another year of marginal results will eventually elicit their return to prominence. After watching programs like Nebraska and themselves rotate coaching regimes seemingly every other year for the past decade and suffer for the fan-bases’ lack of commitment to any of the worthy candidates, Saban has the leeway to take ‘Bama wherever he sees fit. That’s a good plan. A dynasty will ultimately come, and 2008 will build more of the foundation which will eventually prop the Crimson Tide into the Top 10 for years to come.

Projected 2008 record: 8-4
QB - 4 DL - 4
RB - 3.5 LB - 3.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 4 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:
Passing: John Parker Wilson, 255-462-12, 2846 yds., 18 TD

Rushing: Terry Grant, 180 att., 891 yds., 8 TD

: Mike McCoy, 28 rec., 207 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: Leigh Tiffin, 25-34 FG, 36-36 PAT, 111 pts.

P.J. Fitzgerald, 64 punts, 38.7 avg.

Kicking: Leigh Tiffin, 25-34 FG, 36-36 PAT, 111 pts.

Tackles: Rashad Johnson, 94 tot., 57 solo

Sacks: Ezekial Knight, Lorenzo Washington - 3 each

Interceptions: Rashad Johnson, 6 for 64 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Javier Arenas, 27 ret., 24.3 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Javier Arenas, 21 ret., 15.4 avg., 1 TD


C Antoine Caldwell
OFFENSE: DJ Hall-WR, Keith Brown-WR, Matt Caddell-WR, Justin Britt-OG
DEFENSE: Wallace Gilberry-DE, Darren Mustin-WLB, Keith Saunders-LB, Simeon Castille-CB, Marcus Carter-SS, Jimmy Johns-LB (dismissed), Ezekial Knight-LB (medical)

Year two of the Nick Saban era at Alabama will have a new look on offense. After Major Applewhite bolted for Texas, Jim McElwain, who turned Tom Brandstater from nothing into a pretty decent quarterback at Fresno State, was brought in to run the Crimson Tide offense and mold John Parker Wilson into a winning SEC quarterback his senior season. Wilson, a pocket passer with a hint of athleticism in his third year as a starter, should break several career records halfway through the year, but his career has been marked by the bad plays – think two key interceptions in losses to Mississippi State and UL-Monroe and a key fumble in a loss to LSU. Wilson is just 13-13 in his career as a starter and fans are hoping McElwain can turn Wilson into a winning college quarterback for his senior year. How does he do that? Get Wilson’s confidence back after the late-season blunders and fix his ability to lock in on only one wide receiver, which he did all too often with the now-departed D.J. Hall. Behind Wilson are two youngsters in Greg McElroy and Nick Fanuzzi, though neither have much game experience. Saban has said that McElroy is a "capable backup." Both are pocket passers without much mobility. Walk-on Thomas Darrah, a 6-foot-6 beanpole with a rocket arm, impressed some during spring practice but has a ways to go from being a complete quarterback, though he outperformed Fanuzzi, a scholarship player, in the final scrimmage. True freshman Star Jackson, who will be the most athletic of the bunch as soon as he enrolls, will get a chance to compete for playing time right away and show his worth for the future.

Alabama had five tailbacks get carries last year – Glen Coffee, Terry Grant, Roy Upchurch, Jimmy Johns and even scat-back Jonathan Lowe at the end of the year – but none proved that he is (yet) a capable running back in the SEC. Coffee might be the best of the bunch, but the junior was sidelined for four games last year during a textbook scandal, where four others were also suspended as well. Upchurch has shown flashes, but has been injured for much of his career. Grant began last year as a starter, but battled injuries late in the year. His abilities are best in the open field, and he didn't show he could be a guy to run through the tackles 25 times per game. Johns moved to linebacker and Lowe is a last-resort option. There's a good chance that two newcomers – Mark Ingram and Mobile-product Ivan Matchett – can see key carries since both already have the physical build to combat the grind of the college game and since Alabama is sorely lacking in guys who can get three yards and a cloud of dust every time. Redshirt freshmen Demetrius Goode and Jeramie Griffin are options, with Griffin figuring into the fullback/H-back blocking spot and battling returning tight ends Preston Dial and Travis McCall for reps.

If there was a strength in this offense last year, it was at wide receiver, but the position turns over most of its key personnel. The top returner is the sure-handed Nikita Stover, but he was hampered this spring by a bad hamstring injury and was surpassed by junior Mike McCoy and sophomore Earl Alexander. Since hamstring injuries linger, it’s unknown how long this will sideline Stover. The next star of the bunch could be McCoy, who actually beat Brown out for a starting spot early last year. It was McCoy and the 6-foot-5 Alexander who emerged as starters coming out of spring, but look for the offense to feature four wide receivers at some point. That paves the way for highly touted freshmen Julio Jones and Burton Scott to come in and make plays from the start. Jones is 6-foot-4 with an incredible vertical leap; Scott is smaller, but dynamic in the mode of former USC star Reggie Bush. Redshirt freshman Darius Hanks showed promise in the spring and will get his chances, as will fellow redshirt freshmen Marquis Maze and Brandon Gibson. Hanks impressed with his smoothness, while Maze could remind some of Tyrone Prothro. Jones was the star of this nationally rated No. 1 class, and either he or Scott could be the game-breaker that this unit is missing at the moment.

McElwain and the emergence of some veteran tight ends have made the position more of a focal point for this year's team. Senior Nick Walker (6-foot-5 and 270 pounds) is not only the biggest tight end, but also the best pass receiver. Fellow senior Travis McCall is the better blocker, but both have shown that when the tight ends are needed to split out wide, each can do the job. Georgia Tech transfer Colin Peek, who picked the Yellow Jackets over Alabama back in 2005, is trying to gain eligibility immediately after coming in January since new GT coach Paul Johnson doesn't use a tight end. If he can't play, redshirt freshman Randy Underwood could show that the future is now as the multidimensional youngster impressed during spring practice.

Most of the unit returns, though it was hardly a strong point last year. Most of that was because starting center Antoine Caldwell and starting guard Marlon Davis were suspended four games late in the year and other starters battled injuries. Junior Andre Smith – all 340 pounds of him – is regarded as one of the best left tackles in the country, yet his weight has to be a concern. If he drops to around 320 pounds, Smith could be a top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft (one mock draft projects him going at No. 3). There's nothing better on the offensive line than a strong presence on the left side, and that's what Smith is. Caldwell skipped out on NFL riches to come back for his senior season. Davis and junior Michael Johnson are likely to be the starting guards, but there's a question mark at right tackle, where no one has been able to stay consistent at that position in each of the last two years. The winner coming out of spring was junior Drew Davis, who has barely seen the field since signing in 2004 and gray-shirting. He battled sophomore Taylor Pharr to the end, and while Drew Davis is the frontrunner, he could be pushed by highly-rated offensive tackle recruits Tyler Love and Barrett Jones. But with offensive line being such a tough position to come in and play at immediately, Tide coaches will likely take their chances with Drew Davis. Youngsters like William Vlachos and Patrick Crump are part of the wave of the future and will get their chances this fall. Save All-American Smith, this is a highly mobile group, and they will make enable McElwain’s plans to be shifted laterally, at will.


OT Andre Smith


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB John Parker Wilson-Sr (6-2, 213) Greg McElroy-So (6-3, 218)
RB Terry Grant-So (5-10, 188) Roy Upchurch-Jr (6-0, 192)
Glen Coffee-Jr (6-2, 197) (inj.)
WR Nikita Stover-Sr (6-0, 207) Earl Alexander-So (6-5, 210)
WR Mike McCoy-Jr (6-3, 199) Darius Hanks-So (6-0, 190)
TE Chris Underwood-Fr (6-4, 226) Nick Walker-Sr (6-5, 255)
TE Travis McCall-Sr (6-2, 261) Preston Dial-So (6-3, 223)
OT Andre Smith-Jr (6-5, 340) Charles Hoke-Sr (6-7, 253)
OG Mike Johnson-Jr (6-6, 298) David Ross-So (6-4, 297)
C Antoine Caldwell-Sr (6-3, 292) Evan Cardwell-Jr (6-2, 278)
OG Marlon Davis-Sr (6-4, 290) William Vlachos-Fr (6-1, 295)
OT Drew Davis-Jr (6-7, 276) Taylor Pharr-So (6-6, 281)
K Leigh Tiffin-Jr (6-1, 198) Corey Smith-Fr (6-0, 195)



One of the weakest units on last year's team and in the SEC returns just about everyone, except for All-SEC defensive end Wallace Gilberry. Veterans Bobby Greenwood and Brandon Deaderick have the inside track on starting positions, but will be pushed by youngsters Alfred McCollough, who had a very good spring, and Nick Gentry and Luther Davis. Deaderick and Greenwood are fourth-year players who came in with a lot of potential, but have yet to live up to those expectations. Greenwood is long and lean but maybe a step slow while Deaderick is quicker. Lorenzo Washington, a junior, came on late last season, and he's the likely starter at nose tackle in the 3-4 setup. Brian Motley is also a key figure at nose tackle, but the sophomore was injured most of last year.

With former head coach Mike Shula's inability to recruit linebackers, this unit might be the weakest in the SEC when it comes to returning players. Sophomore Rolando McClain is the best of the bunch returning, though he might be better suited for defensive end. McClain is now the leader of a group that doesn't have much experience, especially since experienced returner Prince Hall was suspended for the spring. The most intriguing linebacker was senior Jimmy Johns, who never lived up to his promise as a running back and could even redshirt this year as he learns the nuances of the outside linebacker position. With Johns moving from inside linebacker to outside, junior Cory Reamer stepped up and was one of the defensive stars of A-Day. The starters outside are now sophomore Chavis Williams and junior Brandon Fanney. Sophomore Charlie Higgenbotham could have a chance, as could converted fullback Baron Huber, but two true freshmen in Jerrell Harris and Don'ta Hightower will get hard looks from the moment they step foot on campus. Williams is young, but has a chance to be special, and Fanney is a converted defensive tackle, so he won't be as fast as the other linebackers. But this is what the Crimson Tide has, and what it will have to play with. UPDATE: LB Jimmy Johns has been dismissed from the team and LB Ezekial Knight has not been cleared to play for health reason. He has since asked for a transfer.


Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele inherited a bunch of defensive backs when he took over, but the best he found weren't even recruited by the former staff. Safety Rashad Johnson is a walk-on-turned-All-SEC-player while Kareem Jackson turned into one of the top young corners in the league in just his true freshman year. Jackson's opposite corner will likely be junior Javier Arenas, who has already made his mark as a top-flight return man but has height issues when up against the 6’3 types. Justin Woodall is starting to come around. Woodall could have played baseball for Alabama in the spring, where his fastball touches 94 miles per hour, but chose to focus on football. Incoming freshman Mark Barron should see immediate action at safety or linebacker. Ali Sharrief is a hard-hitting junior who loves contact, and juniors Marquis Johnson and Chris Rogers are listed as backup cornerbacks. As of late, this secondary has been one of the nation’s top groups, which makes sense seeing how they practice against Spurrier’s offense. Look for more tight coverage schemes to force foes to produce on the ground (only 13 passing TDs given up in 2006 and 14 in ’07) if they want the win.


DB Rashad Johnson


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Bobby Greenwood-Sr (6-5, 267) Alfred McCullough-So (6-2, 317)
NG Lorenzo Washington-Jr (6-4, 283) Josh Chapman-So (6-1, 300)
DE Brandon Deaderick-Jr (6-4, 286) Nick Gentry-So (6-3, 263)
LB Chavis Williams-So (6-4, 214) Eryk Anders-Sr (6-2, 225)
LB Rolando McClain-So (6-4, 255) Charlie Higgenbotham-So (6-1, 211)
Prince Hall-Jr (5-11, 255) (susp.)
LB Cory Reamer-Jr (6-4, 223) Baron Huber-Jr (6-4, 242)
LB Brandon Fanney-Jr (6-4, 241) Alex Watkins-Fr (6-3, 218)
CB Javier Arenas-Jr (5-9, 193) Marquis Johnson-Jr (5-11, 186)
CB Kareem Jackson-So (5-11, 185) Lionel Mitchell-Sr (6-2, 182)
SS Justin Woodall-Jr (6-2, 224) Ali Sharrief-Jr (5-9, 197)
FS Rashad Johnson-Sr (6-0, 187) Sam Burnthall-Jr (6-2, 185)
P P.J. Fitzgerald-Jr (5-11, 194) Heath Thomas-Jr (6-3, 213)




Junior Leigh Tiffin returns as the place kicker and junior P.J. Fitzgerald returns at punter, though Fitzgerald is being pushed by true freshman Corey Smith, a spring enrollee who was rated as the No.12 kicker/punters in the country (Rivals). Fitzgerald has a good leg, but also has the propensity to shank a 24-yarder, hence the 38.7-yard average. After his confidence was wrecked in 2006 at Arkansas when he missed three kicks, Tiffin rebounded with a decent 2007 season, beating out a returning senior starter. Tiffin missed just one kick inside of 30 yards and made both attempts of 50 yards or more, but missed six kicks between 30 and 50 yards. The small but shifty Arenas is one of the nation's best return men and he mans both spots well as a constant threat.