Crimson Tide top five: Cornelius Bennett was first linebacker voted SEC player of year

AP photo by Jason DeCrow / Former Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Cornelius Bennett was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fourth story in a series counting down the top five players in University of Alabama football history. Companion series are planned for Georgia (May 11-15) and Tennessee (May 18-22).

On Oct. 4, 1986, I was an Auburn University sophomore student trying to get motivated to make the short walk to Jordan-Hare Stadium later that day to watch Pat Dye's Tigers manhandle Western Carolina.

I never made it. Alabama versus Notre Dame at Legion Field was way too tempting.

On a road trip that proved to be short and incredibly successful, some buddies and I traveled up Highway 280 to Birmingham, somehow scored some face-value tickets and had just settled in during the first quarter when Crimson Tide linebacker Cornelius Bennett leveled Fighting Irish quarterback Steve Beuerlein. Alabama had been winless against Notre Dame in four previous tries, but Bennett's sack ignited the Tide to a resounding 28-10 win on 112-degree turf.