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 /
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Alabama Crimson Tide
Landon Collins #26 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Best Alabama football players under Nick Saban: 26. Landon Collins

Landon Collins’ college career aged like a fine wine. He took a little time to get used to the college game, needing time under Kirby Smart’s system in 2012 to adjust from his time in high school. He was willing to show he could be a contributor, leading the team in special teams tackles as a freshman.

Collins took the starting strong safety job in his sophomore year after Vinnie Sunseri tore his ACL. In his very first start, Collins had an interception return for a touchdown against Tennessee. He started six games and was everywhere on the field. He recorded 70 tackles despite just those six starts, and he was second on the team to C.J. Mosley, another Alabama legend.

He turned it on in his junior year, tackling everyone in his path (finishing with 98 on the season), forcing three interceptions, and recovering two fumbles. Collins was named a unanimous All-American en route to Alabama’s appearance in the first College Football Playoff.

Collins said it was a very hard decision to join the 2014 NFL Draft, forgoing his senior season. He was considered a pretty good lock to be a first-round pick, so one could understand his decision. He won the National Championship as a special teams contributor in the 2012 season, but as a starter, he came close and missed out in his sophomore and junior seasons. He still was one of the best safeties in school history, and that allows him to go down in Alabama lore.