Every new season Alabama football must establish new team leaders throughout the various position groups. Check out who will step up in 2018.
No amount of talent can be enough to overcome a deficiency in player leadership. All through the Saban era, Alabama football has been blessed with strong player leadership. The leadership discovery and identification process begins anew with each new roster.
Coaches provide invaluable leadership for players, but for a team to reach its potential, it takes more than coaching leadership. Players need teammates to follow and emulate. Especially at crunch time, player leaders, by force of will, can affect the outcome of a game.
There is a past story about Dont’a Hightower in 2010. Hightower was unable to exercise adequate leadership when a reeling Alabama football defense was in dire need. The leadership burden of some particular moments was too great for him to bear. In later seasons, he learned and embraced a leadership role he has taken with him to the NFL.
When Nick Saban talks about quarterbacks needing to win the team, it is more than coachspeak. It is more than an excuse for not naming a starting QB. He is talking about the nature of playing QB requires leadership. Coaches cannot assign leaders. Individual players cannot anoint themselves with leadership roles. Leaders can be identified. They can be developed. If they exhibit tangible value to others, leaders will evolve as teammates choose to follow.
Leadership by Experience and Example
Traditionally, leadership on sports teams comes from the most experienced players. They are generally older and have spent more time in a program. Nick Saban’s leadership council handles some discipline issues and is filled by this type of player.
Another component that has less to do with age or experience is earning respect from on-field performance. There are leadership opportunities from the bench and in the locker room. The greatest leadership statements are made on the field, either in practice or games.
The right player in the right situation can become a leader as a true freshman. Predicting those situations is mere guessing. Let’s look at 2018 leadership candidates easier to predict, starting with the sophomore class. We will skip the QB’s because Jalen and Tua are already leaders.
- Dylan Moses is a sophomore expected to assume a leadership role in 2018.
- One or more of the sophomores at wideout will lead that position group – Henry Ruggs III or Jerry Jeudy are the most likely.
The junior group, including redshirt juniors, has many leadership candidates. We list the top ones.
- Anfernee Jennings is already an acknowledged leader who sets a tone throughout the roster.
- Raekwon Davis can be expected to expand his strong player performance into more of a leadership role.
Two guys that play positions conducive to leadership are Mack Wilson and Deionte Thompson. Both will probably be signal-callers on defense. Their ability to be strong players does not automatically make them leaders. It will be interesting to watch their development.
This group is so well known, no elaboration is needed. They will be team leaders in 2018, some of them just continuing in past leadership roles.
- Damien Harris
- Ross Piersbacher
- Isaiah Buggs
- Lester Cotton
- Christian Miller
We have listed 12 players on the 85 scholarship roster. How each one plays in 2018 will drive the success of the entire team. How well several of them evolve as leaders may be the biggest factor in 2018 becoming another championship season.
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