Alabama losing talented trio early to the NFL

Alabama losing talented trio early to the NFL

January 14th, 2017 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Alabama NCAA college football defensive back Marlon Humphrey speaks to the media Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and wide receiver ArDarius Stewart are skipping their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft. The trio announced their decisions on Friday, four days after the Crimson Tide lost to Clemson in the national championship game. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP)

Photo by VASHA HUNT

Alabama NCAA college football wide receiver ArDarius Stewart speaks to the media Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and ArDarius Stewart are skipping their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft. The trio announced their decisions on Friday, four days after the Crimson Tide lost to Clemson in the national championship game. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP)

Alabama NCAA college football wide receiver ArDarius Stewart...

Photo by VASHA HUNT

Alabama junior left tackle Cam Robinson and redshirt junior receiver ArDarius Stewart announced Friday that they were forgoing their senior seasons for the NFL draft, and redshirt sophomore cornerback Marlon Humphrey said he would skip his final two years with the Crimson Tide.

All three players spoke early Friday afternoon in a news conference that began with coach Nick Saban praising the talented trio.

"We are very pleased, happy and proud to have press conferences like this for players who have made significant contributions to the program both on and off the field," Saban said. "Each one of these individuals has done an outstanding job of doing the right thing, and it's our commitment to help our players be more successful in life."

The Crimson Tide have a 40-4 record the past three seasons with three consecutive Southeastern Conference championships and three straight appearances in college football's four-team playoff. Alabama won the national championship in 2015 and finished No. 2 this past season after losing Monday night's title game against Clemson, 35-31.

Robinson and Stewart were expected to leave early, but Humphrey's immediate future had not been projected.

"It was tough after losing the championship, but I still had to make the decision," Humphrey said. "My playing days are done at Alabama, but I will be 'Roll Tide' until I die."

A CBS mock draft posted Thursday projected Robinson going 16th overall to the Baltimore Ravens and Humphrey going 30th to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The son of former Alabama tailback Bobby Humphrey was tabbed an All-American this past season by the Football Writers' Association of America. He had 36 tackles, three tackles for loss and two interceptions in his second season as a starter. Humphrey had the first of Alabama's 11 defensive touchdowns with his 18-yard interception return for a score in the 52-6 opening rout of Southern California.

Robinson started every week at left tackle in his 44-game career and was a consensus All-American as a junior. He was the winner of this past season's Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the nation's top interior lineman.

"These have been the best three years of my life," Robinson said.

Stewart led the Crimson Tide this past season with 54 catches for 864 yards and eight touchdowns. His versatility was on display in the finale against Clemson, carrying once for 25 yards and throwing a 24-yard pass to tight end O.J. Howard.

Saban said he met with all three players before Friday's news conference. He asked all of them to pledge that they would return to get their degrees.

"They are always welcome back as a part of the University of Alabama program," Saban said.

Among the prominent Crimson Tide players who were eligible to leave but decided to stay are tailback Bo Scarbrough, punter JK Scott, defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, inside linebacker Rashaan Evans and defensive backs Anthony Averett and Tony Brown.

Cristobal leaves

Mario Cristobal, who oversaw Alabama's tackles and tight ends this past season, left Saban's staff Friday to become the co-offensive coordinator and running-game coordinator for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Cristobal was the Crimson Tide's offensive line coach during the 2013-15 seasons after serving as Florida International's head coach for six years.

A possible replacement for Cristobal is former New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley, who worked this past season as an analyst with the Tide.

Destination known

Redshirt sophomore quarterback David Cornwell, who announced several weeks ago that he was transferring, posted on social media Friday afternoon that he would play his final two seasons at Nevada.

Cornwell participated in the lopsided wins over Kent State and Mississippi State this past season but did not throw a pass.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.