No One Drafted From Alabama? Really?

April 29, 2008

Mike Shula was the head coach at Alabama from 2003 to 2006. He had one good year, a 10-2 season in 2005, but was fired for the mediocrity of the other three. Most people around the country saw the hiring as a bad move, and the truth in that could not have been clearer this weekend.

Not one single player from Alabama was drafted. That fact boggles the mind, because it’s Alabama. The program is not what it once was, but the Tide being shut out on draft weekend is inconceivable. For comparison, Florida hasn’t been shut out of the draft since 1951, and only once since then (1977) has a Gator not been selected in one of the first seven rounds of a draft.

It really is.

The fourth and fifth year seniors on that 2005 team were recruited by Dennis Franchione in 2002 and 2001. The real leaders on that team weren’t Shula’s recruits. The fourth and fifth year seniors on this year’s team were Shula’s recruits, having come to campus in 2003 and 2004. I’m going to give those years a look to see how it’s possible that Bama could have no one drafted this year.

His first class in 2003 (numbering 19) had only one player drafted: DT Le’Ron McClain in the fourth round last year. Granted, Tyrone Prothro probably would have been drafted if not for the nasty string of injuries he went through. It is worth mentioning though that the injury that started it all was sustained in the fourth quarter of a blowout (in 2005 over Florida), and he should not have been playing that late in the game in the first place. Well done, Mike.

I’ll give him a pass in 2003 though, since Coach Fran left unexpectedly and classes during transitional years tend to be rough anyway. If you want a comparison, though, Florida’s 2002 class, despite Steve Spurrier leaving a month before signing day, had four of its 23 players drafted from it. I’ll now look at Alabama’s 2004 class.

Of the 27 recruits, nine are listed on Alabama’s spring football roster. Four were listed as potential draftees on ESPN. None were listed as potential draftees in 2007. That means of the 18 that are gone, 14 weren’t even serious candidates to be drafted. Those 18 players had an average star rating of 2.79 (according to Rivals), with just two 4-star prospects among them.

Wake up, Mike. It’s time for good football.

The nine remaining players are a mixed bag. Antoine Caldwell became a permanent captain, an honor that got his name misspelled in cement but is still prestigious at the school. John Parker Wilson has played a lot of games, but “infuriating” doesn’t come close to describing his inconsistency. Beyond them, only DL Lorenzo Washington (3 sacks) and TE Nick Walker (2 TD receptions) made any significant plays last season.

It’s just astonishing that Alabama could have had such a bad class. Even that 2002 Florida class had a decent number of players considered draftable in 2006 and 2007. With all of the financial and tradition-based advantages the school has, it makes no sense for Alabama not to have anyone drafted in a particular year. Since Derrick Harvey and Andre Caldwell could have left last year, Florida almost had no one drafted this year. However, that would have been caused by extreme amounts of early entries not two consecutive bad recruiting classes.

In 2008 Appalachian State, Bentley, Coastal Carolina, Delaware, Eastern Kentucky, Furman, Gardner-Webb, Grand Valley State, Hampton, Idaho, Jackson State, McNeese State, Middle Tennessee State, Montana, Mount Union, North Dakota State, Northwest Missouri State, San Diego, Washburn, Weber State, and Winston Salem State all had at least one player drafted. Alabama did not.