30 best Alabama football players to play for Nick Saban

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13): Mark Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13): Mark Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
16 of 31
Alabama Crimson Tide
Rolando McClain #25 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Best Alabama football players under Nick Saban: 16. Rolando McClain

Rolando McClain came into Alabama as the number two high school inside linebacker in the country. He was so mature when it came to his ability on the field. That maturity, again on the field, continued at Alabama and Saban rewarded McClain by making him a starter for half of the season in his freshman year. He started eight games off the bat, and he never looked back. He continued to destroy opposing offenses, and in his second season in Tuscaloosa, he had 95 tackles and was named a third-team All-American.

His junior year is when he became just a monster in the middle. He did everything from his position. His stats read as 105 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 14 quarterback hurries, 2 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, 8 passes defended, and a forced fumble. Again, he did everything for Alabama in 2009. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, won the Butkus and Lambert Awards, and also helped lead the Crimson Tide to a National Championship.

In the big games, he came up big despite teams trying to run away from him. He had 12 tackles, a sack, and 1.5 tackles for loss in the Iron Bowl against Auburn. He had 5 tackles and a pass defended against Florida in the SEC Championship Game. Then in the National Championship, he had four tackles, a defended pass, and a tackle for loss against Texas.

McClain was named a unanimous All-American, and he decided he wanted to leave college at the peak. He declared for the 2010 NFL Draft, but for three years he grew into one of the greatest forces on the college football field.