Several Alabama players declare for NFL draft

Photo: University of Alabama

The exodus of underclassmen has become an annual rite for the talent-rich Tide.

Posted: Jan 11, 2019 5:11 PM

UNDATED (AP) - Four Alabama players are skipping their final seasons to enter the NFL draft, including All-America left tackle Jonah Williams and Outland Trophy-winning defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.

Those projected first-rounders announced their intentions on Friday, along with versatile tailback Josh Jacobs and tight end Irv Smith Jr.

Jonah Williams and Quinnen Williams are unanimous All-Americans rated as potential Top 10 picks. They helped lead the Crimson Tide to a Southeastern Conference title before losing 44-16 to Clemson in the national championship game.

The exodus of underclassmen has become an annual rite for the talent-rich Tide.

"This is probably going to sound like a Grammy acceptance speech but I just have a lot of thank yous because this place really, it's an incredible program that coach (Nick) Saban's built but it runs because of all the people that work in the coaching and support staff roles," said Jonah Williams, before naming staffers in a number of different departments.

Jonah Williams won the Southeastern Conference's Jacobs Blocking Trophy. He started every game of his Tide career, the first at right tackle and the past two on the left side.

"These guys have always been exemplary in all the things they've done to help themselves, in terms of their work ethic, their character, the choices and decisions they've made, which is what has created the opportunity for them," Saban said.

Alabama has other standout players who haven't announced their plans yet. That group includes safety Deionte Thompson, a projected first-round pick, and linebacker Mack Wilson.

Defensive lineman Raekwon Davis and cornerback Trevon Diggs have already announced they're staying put.

Smith wasn't present at the announcement because he's attending the wedding of fellow tight end Hale Hentges this weekend.

Quinnen Williams is a third-year sophomore who won the Outland Trophy as the nation's top interior lineman on either side of the ball. The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder had a breakout season in his first season as starter, leading the team with 17 tackles for loss and ranking third with 66 tackles.

"I dreamed of this day almost every day when I was a little kid when I was playing little league football in Birmingham," he said. "Just to see I made it become a reality, like I get a chance to enter the draft. Most people don't get a chance from where I'm from.

"Most people have the athletic ability or the ability to do it, but can't get past different distractions and stuff. To see I defeated all the odds and the negativity and just everything in general, I defeated it all. It made me emotional kind of to see that I've came from a long way, seen a lot of stuff when I was young."

Quinnen Williams said he spent considerable time talking on the phone about the decision to Saban, who he called "like the Godfather of early leaving."

Jacobs and Smith are also listed as potential late first-rounders in at least one mock draft.

Jacobs was a diverse threat for the Tide on offense and special teams. He ran for 640 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns while catching 20 passes for 247 yards and three scores. Once a lightly recruited player who was a late addition to his Alabama recruiting class, he averaged 30.6 yards on 14 kick returns with a TD.

"This decision has definitely been tough for me," he said. "Even on the ride here, I still didn't know exactly what choice I wanted to make."

Smith emerged as a weapon this season. He caught 44 passes for 710 yards and seven touchdowns.

His father, Irv Smith Sr., is a former NFL tight end who was a first-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in 1993.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501652

Reported Deaths: 10024
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34353540
DeSoto32162408
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Jackson24508383
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Jones13867243
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Clay308977
Chickasaw301067
Clarke292594
Calhoun279447
Holmes267987
Smith264150
Yalobusha234547
Tallahatchie228251
Greene219449
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Lawrence213140
Perry205956
Amite205256
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Montgomery179657
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169338
Tunica160039
Benton149239
Kemper141941
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Humphreys129638
Franklin120328
Quitman106528
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94734
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820312

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148731924
Mobile726221339
Madison52362697
Shelby37640350
Baldwin37266552
Tuscaloosa35120612
Montgomery34123740
Lee23540246
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Limestone15354199
Elmore15271286
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DeKalb12664261
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Jackson9877184
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Colbert8877201
Tallapoosa7093198
Escambia6778134
Covington6715183
Chilton6648162
Russell637559
Franklin5969105
Chambers5612142
Marion5010127
Dallas4979200
Pike4796106
Clarke475884
Geneva4575127
Winston4522103
Lawrence4327117
Bibb425386
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331664
Randolph329864
Butler326796
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Henry312866
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Fayette294180
Washington251651
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Crenshaw245375
Clay243368
Macon234863
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