Phil Steele Preseason Team Cites Tiders

Phil Steele first came to my attention in 1971 when I saw his pre-season poll and he had Alabama – a team that had won just six games in each of the past two seasons – as one of the nation’s top-ranked teams. “Who is Phil Steele and how did he arrive at his lofty expectations for Bama?,” I thought.

That 1971 Alabama football team opened the season with a shocking upset of No. 1 ranked (by some) USC in Los Angeles and ended the regular season with a 31-7 crushing of an undefeated Auburn team featuring Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan. The Crimson Tide was 11-0. By then, of course, the entire nation knew what Phil Steele had known preseason: Coach Paul Bryant had Bama back.

For these four and a half decades since then, Phil Steele’s pre-season analysis (PhilSteele.com) has been “must watch” by serious college football analysts.

Because of his track record, it is with some trepidation that a few of his pre-season All-America predictions (or, to be precise, the lack of Bama selections) are questioned.

To be sure, Alabama is well-represented on the “Phil Steele’s 2015 Preseason All-American Team.” But we who follow the Crimson Tide can be a bit greedy.

The Crimson Tide of Coach Nick Saban has two first team selections, neither of them a surprise. Junior defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson and senior inside linebacker Reggie Ragland are on the list.

The second team offense includes junior Tide tight end O.J. Howard and the second team punter is Bama sophomore J.K. Scott.

The third team offense inludes junior tailback Derrick Henry and senior center Ryan Kelly.

On the fourth (and final) Phil Steele All-American team are junior safety Eddie Jackson and junior long snapper Cole Mazza from Alabama.

Not bad, Phil Steele. But the suspicion here is that most coaches would salivate at the chance of having sophomore Cam Robinson at left tackle on offense and being able to line up senior Jarran Reed OR sophomore Jonathan Allen on the defensive line. Cyrus Jones is a much underrated cornerback, including being left off here. Maybe the omitted are not first team, but surely on one of four teams.

Those who expected Steele to get it right with his preseason All-SEC team will be even more mystified. Left tackle Cam Sims is only fourth team pre-season all-conference.

His first team, has tailback Henry, center Kelly, defensive lineman Robinson, linebacker Ragland, safety Jackson, and punter Scott.

Second team includes tight end Howard, defensive lineman Allen, and cornerback Jones.

It ranks as something of a surprise that Alabama junior Reuben Foster makes the preseason third team.

Steele’s fourth team has what most would consider two future NFL first round draft choices in offensive tackle Robinson and defensive end Reed, along with sophomore cornerback Tony Brown.

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