We continue the offseason retrospective series of stories looking at the 2015 Alabama football program.
For this edition, we’ll take a look at a few superlatives as identified by teammates. Who’s the fastest? Who hits the hardest? And who’s the smartest guy on the field? Each had a consensus pick from players interviewed at the national championship and Senior Bowl media days.
— “I’m going with Reuben Foster. Having to go against him the past couple of years, every time he hits you, you lose. He’s so explosive.” Nysewander
— “I’m lucky to say I haven’t personally felt that, but they say Ryan Anderson.” QB Cooper Bateman
— “I’d say Reuben is one of the hardest hitters on the team.” DL Dalvin Tomlinson
— “Reuben (Foster). Reggie (Ragland).” DL D.J. Pettway
— “Reuben Foster, no doubt.” OL Alphonse Taylor
— “Reuben Foster.” LB Tim Williams
— “Reuben Foster.” DB Geno Matias-Smith
— “The d-line.” DL A’Shawn Robinson
— “Reuben. I have to stick with my dog.” OL Dominick Jackson
— “Either Reuben or Reggie. Probably Reuben, though,” CB Marlon Humphrey
The final tally: Eight of the 10 listed middle linebacker Reuben Foster. That’s a wise choice.
— “Bradley Sylve has to be up there.” Nysewander
— “Either Calvin (Ridley) or Sylve.” Bateman.
— “Between Tony Brown and Kenyan (Drake).” Tomlinson
— “Either Calvin Ridley or Sylve.” Pettway
— “Bradley Sylve.” Alphonse Taylor
— “Bradley Sylve and Anthony Averett.” Tim Williams
— “Probably (Anthony) Averette.” Matias-Smith
— “Sylve,” A’Shawn Robinson
— “I’ll give you a top three. It has to be between B. Sylve, ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley … oh oh, I have to put Robert Foster. I think Robert Foster is probably No. 2.” Dominick Jackson
— “Calvin (Ridley), Bradley (Sylve) … maybe Calvin.” Humphrey
— “Bradley Sylve or Tony Brown,” Cyrus Jones
Of the 11 players asked, nine said cornerback Bradley Sylve. As a high school athlete, the recent Alabama graduate won the Louisiana state 100- and 200-meter state titles.
Pettway added an anecdote about former Alabama receiver Amari Cooper, now a Pro-Bowler with the Oakland Raiders
“Coop used to race all the time,” Pettway said. “Coop raced Bradley last year. Robert Foster, Tony Brown and Bradley raced last year. I think Rob won.”
Smartest guy on team
— “I have to go with Ryan Kelly with the way he leads our offense and makes those center calls. It takes a lot of intelligence to do what he does.” Nysewander
— “I think you can say Ryan Kelly. Just the way he carries himself on the field, the calls he makes.” Bateman
— “Ryan Kelly.” Pettway
— “Ryan Kelly. He’s a different breed of human being. It’s crazy. He’s just a different breed.” Alphonse Taylor
— “Ryan Kelly.” Tim Williams
— “Walker Jones. Walker’s pretty smart.” Matias-Smith
— “We’re all smart.” A’Shawn Robinson
— “Ryan Kelly, hand down. I know he plays with me, but in the film room with him and classroom-wise, the guy is a brainiac. The guy is super smart, super intelligent.” Dominick Jackson
— “Field-wise, I think Reggie’s (Ragland) pretty smart.” Marlon Humphrey
— “I guess I’ll go with Jake (Coker) because he’s the quarterback. They’re typically the smartest guys on the field ― him and Ryan Kelly.” Cyrus Jones
Of the 10 surveyed for this one, seven mentioned center Ryan Kelly. Offensive linemen are often considered the brainy players, so this one isn’t too surprising. And the fifth-year Kelly was the Rimington Award. Kelly was also a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy that goes to the best football scholar-athlete in the country. Kelly got his undergraduate degree in marketing in 2014 and earned his master’s in the same specialization. As of last fall, he had a 3.3 cumulative GPA, including 3.75 in graduate school.