Former Bama football stars tell Nick Saban’s favorite stories

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By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Jeremy Bryant

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban will get a chance to see his former big stars hear their names in the NFL Draft starting Thursday, but a few players offered fans a insight into what it’s like to play for the enigmatic coach.

On Tuesday night, the NFL hosted a Twitter space event to prepare for the draft, featuring players like former first-rounders Mark Ingram and Jonathan Allen, and Daron Payne. All have had productive careers thus far, but have also taken the time to give their fondest memories of Saban.

Ingram was the first Heisman Trophy winner in Alabama history and recalls the recruiting process at Alabama being very straight forward from what his career might have looked like had he played elsewhere.

“He was like, ‘If you come to Alabama, you have a chance to be a great player. And if you don’t, it’s going to be your fault because you’ll have every chance,’ Ingram said. “‘ If you don’t become a great player, it will be your fault.’ ”

Those words might be considered harsh enough to spit on a player fresh out of high school, but Ingram welcomed the challenge from the coach who won a national championship with LSU a few years prior.

Ingram actually became a big player for the Tide, winning a national championship in his sophomore year. He left Alabama in 2011 ranked fourth on the all-time running list, opening the door to a long line of great Alabama running backs.

Allen, on the other hand, was a different beast when he adapted for the Crimson Tide. He was featured as a top 5 draft pick for many pundits in the 2017 draft during his senior season. Injury issues surfaced as the draft approached and saw Allen drop to No.17.

Ahead of his senior year at Alabama, Allen recalls the tough approach and talk the team took after winning the national championship in 2015. Allen had already announced his return for his senior season, and Saban sincerely congratulated the players who were leaving for the NFL.

At the same time, Saban didn’t mince words for returning players about how he felt about his team’s performance after beating playoff rival Clemson Tigers.

“I’m not kidding, he turned to the rest of us and said, ‘For anyone coming back, that’s a BS. That’s not how we play defense, and that’s not how we end a game. And in my head, I’m like, ‘I know this man doesn’t get mad at us after we just won a natty,'” Allen said.

If that’s what was said after beating Clemson, many would dream of being a fly on the wall after Alabama lost to the Tigers in the national championship game the following year.

The NFL Draft begins at 7 p.m. Thursday and will air on ESPN.

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