Two of the most talented teams in college football will line up against each other on Saturday night in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Nick Saban and Alabama have signed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country every year since 2011. Although the ’Tide have to replace several draft picks on both sides of the ball, Saban has proven that his team has the capability to reload and be a contender.
Meanwhile, Jimbo Fisher has also consistently reeled in top-five recruiting classes ever since he began his tenure at Florida State. The ’Noles lost one of the best players in school history in Dalvin Cook, but have talent at every position on the field.
Which brings about the question: if we were to combine these two rosters, how many players from each team would start or play major roles?
On first glance, the immediate thought would be that the majority of the combined FSU-Alabama depth chart would be Crimson Tide players. But the Seminoles return more production at certain positions, especially in the trenches.
With that being said, let’s take a look at what a hypothetical FSU-Alabama depth chart might look like and we will break it down position-by-position.
Quarterback - Both Deondre Francois and Jalen Hurts impressed in their freshmen campaigns, but we give the nod to Francois here. Hurts is an excellent runner, but Francois is more consistent as a passer down the field.
FSU: 1, Alabama: 0
Running Back - The duo of Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris might be the best in the country as we head into the 2017 season. Last year, the two combined for 1,849 yards and 13 touchdowns.
FSU: 1, Alabama: 1
Wide Receiver - FSU and Alabama both lost receivers to the NFL, but return talented options as well. Auden Tate and Nyqwan Murray emerged as playmakers last year for the Seminoles, while Calvin Ridley has caught 161 passes for 1,814 yards and 14 touchdowns in his career for the Crimson Tide.
FSU: 3, Alabama: 2
Tight End - Florida State dominates this position, as it returns a fourth-year tight end in Ryan Izzo, who has made impressive strides over his career.
FSU: 4, Alabama: 2
Offensive Line - This is one of the positions where, at first glance, it might seem all Alabama. But the Crimson Tide has questions along the right side of its line where, conveniently, the ’Noles return some players with experience. Jonah Williams, Ross Pierschbacher and Bradley Bozeman are the ’Tide representatives, with Landon Dickerson and Rick Leonard from FSU filling out the right side.
FSU: 6, Alabama: 5
Defensive Line - Both teams return absolute monsters along the defensive line. At defensive end, Da’Shawn Hand from Alabama and Josh Sweat from FSU would form the deadliest pass rushing combination in the nation. Meanwhile, Da’Ron Payne and Derrick Nnadi are very similar styles of players, in that they both are powerful run stuffers with enough strength to take on multiple blockers.
FSU: 8, Alabama: 7
Linebacker - FSU and Alabama run a similar style of defense, meaning only two true linebackers are on the field at a time. Getting the nod here are Shaun Dion Hamilton from Alabama, who played very well last season before going down with a knee injury, and Matthew Thomas from FSU, who might be the most talented player on the field if he’s available.
FSU: 9, Alabama: 8
Defensive Back - There’s no question that safeties Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick might be the two best defensive players in the entire country. Likewise, Tarvarus McFadden returns at cornerback after nabbing eight interceptions last year. However, the remaining two positions in our secondary (STAR and field cornerback) are somewhat less concrete. We’ll give the nod to Tony Brown and Anthony Averett of Alabama, two seniors who played big roles last year for the ’Tide.
FSU: 11, Alabama: 11
Specialists - JK Scott of Alabama might be the best punter in the entire country. Ricky Aguyo gets the nod at kicker simply because Alabama graduated their kicker last year and enters the year with an unproven option.
Next week: How many Louisiana-Monroe players would start for Florida State? Anyone want to take a guess?