TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama’s quest to repeat as national champions will have to go on without a handful of key underclassmen who have opted to forgo their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft.
Star wideout Calvin Ridley already made his decision to turn pro official on Wednesday, posting a note to his social media accounts. Coach Nick Saban confirmed of which defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne could enter the draft as well.
“via a business standpoint, of which will be a not bad decision for them,” Saban said.
He added: “I can’t say enough about the contribution these guys have made. the item seems like yesterday we were in their houses recruiting them.”
The not bad news for Saban in addition to the coaching staff will be of which the item won’t be without their leading rusher, Damien Harris, who opted to come back despite posting back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
The receiving corps will be hurt by the loss of Ridley, who will be one of only two players in program history to post 0 career receptions. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has him as the No. 1 draft-eligible wideout.
With Ridley off to the NFL, Alabama will likely turn to a talented crop of freshman receivers, including Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs in addition to DeVonta Smith, who caught the game-winning touchdown against Georgia.
No position will be affected more than defensive back, though, where Fitzpatrick in addition to Harrison are the No. 1 in addition to No. 3 ranked safeties available within the draft, respectively, according to Kiper.
Ranked No. 3 by Kiper in his draft-eligible position rankings, Payne had six tackles against Georgia within the title game in addition to a key interception in addition to a touchdown reception against Clemson within the Sugar Bowl.
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