Former Bama football stars sound off favorite Nick Saban stories
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Jeremy Bryant
University of Alabama football head coach Nick Saban will have the chance to see his former top stars hear their names called during the NFL Draft starting Thursday, but a few players indulged fans with a glimpse of what it is like playing for the enigmatic coach.
Tuesday night the NFL hosted a Twitter space event to get ready for the draft, featuring players like former first rounders Mark Ingram and Jonathan Allen, and Daron Payne. All of them have gone on to have productive careers so far, but also took the time to give their best memories of Saban.
Ingram was the first Heisman Trophy winner in Alabama history, and recalls the recruiting process to Alabama being very direct of what he career could have looked like if he played elsewhere.
“He was like, ‘If you come to Alabama, you have a chance to be a great player. And if you don’t, it’ll be your own fault because you’ll have every opportunity,’ ” Ingram said. “ ‘If you don’t become a great player, it’ll be your own fault.’ ”
Those words could be viewed as pretty harsh being spit at a player fresh out of high school, but Ingram welcomed the challenge coming from the coach who won a National Championship with LSU a few years prior.
Ingram did in fact become a great player for the Tide, winning a National Championship in his second year. He left Alabama in 2011 ranked fourth on the all-time rushing list, opening the door for a long line of great Alabama running backs.
Allen on the other hand was a different beast when he suited for the Crimson Tide. He was touted as a Top-5 draft pick for many experts during the 2017 draft during his senior season. Injury concerns arose as the draft neared and saw Allen fall to No. 17.
Before his final year at Alabama, Allen remembers the approach and stern speech the team took after winning the National Championship in 2015. Allen had already announced his return for his final season, and Saban offered a sincere congrats to the players that were leaving for the NFL.
In the same moment, Saban did not mince words for the returning players about how he felt his team performed after beating heated playoff rival Clemson Tigers.
“I kid you not, he turned to the rest of us and said, ‘For all you guys who are coming back, that’s some BS. That is not how we play defense, and that’s not how we finish a game.’ And in my head, I’m like, ‘I know this man is not getting mad at us after we had just won a natty,’ ” said Allen.
If that’s what was said after beating Clemson, many would dream to be a fly on the wall after Alabama lost to the Tigers in the National Championship game the following year.
The NFL Draft begins at 7 p.m. Thursday and will air on ESPN.