Athlon Sports Names 16 Alabama Preseason All-SEC Selections
Athlon Sports predicted the first, second, third and fourth preseason All-SEC teams and, to the surprise of no one, Alabama led the conference in selections with 16. Trailing the Saban led squad with 15 is Georgia, and after that is Texas A&M and LSU with nine. Of the sixteen players selected, the Tide feature five players selected for the first team, six on the second team, four on the third team and one on the fourth team.
The first team offense features third year players John Metchie and Evan Neal who will both be crucial pieces of Alabama's offense this season. Metchie, the likely No. 1 option at receiver for the Crimson Tide, has proven his ability multiple times in his first two seasons, becoming one of the most physical receivers in the nation. Neal, the former 5-star who will be moving into the left tackle slot this year, has a massive frame and will be nothing short of a problem for opposing defenses.
Rounding out the first team with the defensive selections, Athlon Sports chose linebackers Will Anderson and Christian Harris as well as safety Jordan Battle. Anderson, the undisputed best freshman in the SEC last season, and Harris, a semifinalist for the Butkus Award in 2020, look primed to wreak havoc on opposing defenses this year. Battle, the final preseason first team selection, moved into a starting role in 2020 and finished third on the team in tackles and is poised for a big junior year.
The second team offense features quarterback Bryce Young, tight end Jahleel Billingsley and offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor with the defense being made up of recent transfer linebacker Henry To'o To'o, cornerback Josh Jobe and safety Malachi Moore. Bryce Young, despite not seeing meaningful time under center, has a lot of hype surrounding him this season and has shown no reason not to believe it. Billingsley is a freakishly athletic tight end with a massive catch radius, and Ekiyor is a returning starter from one of college football's top offensive lines.
The second team defensive selections, To'o To'o, Jobe and Moore, are all players who showed flashes of greatness last season and should only improve this year.
The preseason third team, featuring four Crimson Tide names, is the first to feature an Alabama specialist in kicker Will Reichard who was 14-of-14 on field goals in 2020. Rounding out the rest of the third team is running back Brian Robinson, defensive lineman LaBryan Ray, and linebacker Chris Allen.
Finally, the fourth team features just one Crimson Tide player in defensive lineman Tim Smith who saw time as a rotational player mostly in 2020 but is primed for a bigger role in 2021.