Yes, it’s an all-SEC National Championship Game. Yes, you’ve heard about that nonstop the last week.
What you probably didn’t hear was the fact that there are more than a dozen players on Alabama and Georgia’s roster who came from the B1G’s neck of the woods.
Here are each of those players:
Trevon Diggs, Alabama DB
From — Gaithersburg, Md.
How he got away — You should recognize that name. Trevon Diggs is the younger brother of former Maryland star and current Minnesota Vikings star receiver Stefon Diggs. Why didn’t the 2016 recruit follow in his brother’s footsteps? Prt of that could’ve been the fact that Maryland made a coaching switch in the middle of the 2015 season. He committed to Alabama in November, which was after Randy Edsall was fired and before DJ Durkin was hired. Lord knows Durkin wishes he could’ve had another crack at landing the versatile Diggs, who became a key return man for the Tide.
Terrell Lewis, Alabama LB
From — Washington D.C.
How he got away — If you recall, Durkin actually made a strong late push to land Lewis. He was another DMV recruit who Durkin tried to keep at home just months after he took over at Maryland. Unfortunately for Durkin, the 5-star edge rusher picked Alabama instead of Maryland, Florida State and Ole Miss. The 2015 D.C. Gatorade Player of the Year was actually an early Ohio State pledge, but ultimately, the Tide nabbed another top-flight DMV recruit. Lewis was one of the key reasons for Alabama’s defensive dominance against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. That was after the sophomore missed the previous 10 games due to a shoulder injury he suffered in the middle of a breakout season opener.
— InsideBamaRecruiting (@RTRnews) September 3, 2017
Anthony Averett, Alabama DB
From — Woodbury, N.J.
How he got away — The former Woodbury track star wasn’t technically living in B1G country as a recruit. The 2013 recruit got a rather early offer from Alabama, and he held true to his commitment. It didn’t matter that local schools like Rutgers and Temple were first on Averett’s trail. Averett had to wait his turn at Alabama, where he became a starter in his fourth season. He gave Tide fans a bit of a scare when he rolled his ankle coming off the bus before the Sugar Bowl. But he played and contributed in one of the more dominant defensive efforts we’ve seen from the Tide in the Saban era.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama DB
From — Old Bridge, N.J.
How he got away — Well, Fitzpatrick wasn’t exactly raised in B1G country. The New Jersey recruit has plenty of family in Alabama, and for most of his life, New Jersey wasn’t in the B1G footprint. Rutgers wasn’t going to land the 5-star recruit, and it turned out that even the likes of Ohio State and Penn State didn’t have much of a shot. Fitzpatrick rolled with the Tide over Florida State, and the rest is history. Something tells me there will be a couple eyes on the All-American on Monday night.
Watch the top of your screen. Matched-up with the outside receiver. Great anticipation to not get caught up in the mesh concept. Sneaky recovery speed with ball skills to match. Clutch interception in the red zone. pic.twitter.com/ZD7RiPVR0a
— NFL Draft GIFs (@NFLDraftGIFs) January 6, 2018
J.C. Hassenauer, Alabama OL
From — Woodbury, Minn.
How he got away — The No. 2 recruit from the state of Minnesota in 2014 was an Under Armour All-America selection. He committed to the Tide just 2 days after getting an Alabama offer in the summer before his senior season. Despite pushes from in-state Minnesota, Hassenauer never broke his Alabama commitment. It took him until his senior season to earn a start, but Hassenauer is now a key sixth man for that Tide offensive line with the ability to play both guard and center. It would be interesting to see if P.J. Fleck could’ve fended off Saban to land the St. Paul standout.
Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama OL
From — Cedar Falls, Iowa
How he got away — I imagine Kirk Ferentz has had many a sleepless night thinking about how he let Pierschbacher get out of Iowa. The top-ranked Iowa recruit in the 2014 class was verbally committed to the Hawkeyes a year removed from signing day. But after Saban swooped in with an offer, Iowa couldn’t do enough to keep the Parade All-American offensive lineman. Pierschbacher flipped his commitment before his senior year and made Hawkeye fans envious ever since then. In four seasons in Tuscaloosa, he was the starting left guard for three of them. The first-team All-SEC selection will have a crucial role on Monday night, and inevitably, he’ll have a long NFL career.
Richie Petitbon, Alabama OL
From — Annapolis, Md.
How he got away — The Annapolis native was actually a Maryland legacy, but the Terps weren’t one of his finalists. Iowa, Boston College, Florida State and Kentucky were options, but Petitbon elected the roll with the Tide. He spent the first half of his career trying to work his way up the depth chart behind that deep Alabama offensive line.
Derek Kief, Alabama WR
From — Cincinnati, Ohio
How he got away — Rarely does Urban Meyer let elite Ohio recruits leave the state. The 6-5 wideout picked the Tide over Ohio State and Kentucky, and he used his baby sister to deliver the news.
Kief has played sparingly in his four seasons at Alabama, though he did nab his first career touchdown pass against Mercer. He’ll be in line for more playing time in his fifth and final season in Tuscaloosa in 2018.
Jamar King, Alabama DL
From — Detroit, Mich.
How he got away — King, who began his college career at Mendocino College (Ukiah, Ca.), ended up picking Alabama over Ohio State and UCF. It didn’t matter that the Buckeyes were without a defensive tackle in their 2016 class. King chose to go with Alabama, where he played in a handful of games as a reserve defensive lineman.
D’Andre Swift, Georgia RB
From — Philadelphia, Pa.
How he got away — That’s a good question. Swift could’ve been the back in waiting behind Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders. Instead, he picked to be the back in waiting behind Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. The 5-star recruit held firm after he verbally committed to Georgia in the beginning of his senior season at St. Joseph’s. Amazingly, Swift carved out a significant role for himself as a true freshman, and is now cracking some early 2018 Heisman Trophy lists. The explosive tailback could play a pivotal role in whether the Dawgs’ versatile backfield can get going against that vaunted Alabama run defense.
— Audible Sports (@AudibleSports) December 3, 2017
Ahkil Crumpton, Georgia WR
From — Philadelphia, Pa.
How he got away — Crumpton was initially committed to Temple coming out of high school. He instead went the JUCO route and wound up getting a Georgia offer after two years at Los Angeles Valley College. Now, the former West Catholic standout is a key skill player for the Dawgs not only on Monday night, but in 2018, as well. He can play special teams, run the jet sweep and he can stretch the field vertically. The numbers aren’t there just yet (5 catches, 96 yards, 1 TD), but the potential certainly is.
Mark Webb, Georgia DB
From — Philadelphia, Pa.
How he got away — Are you sensing a trend yet? Another Philadelphia native went down to Georgia instead of Penn State despite a big-time late push from James Franklin. The Archbishop Wood recruit elected to stick with his cousin, Swift, and enroll at Georgia. Originally a receiver, Webb made the switch to Kirby Smart’s defense early in his true freshman season. The 4-star recruit played mostly on special teams in his first season in Athens.
Pat Allen, Georgia OL
From — Reisterstown, Md.
How he got away — The 2015 recruit committed to Georgia before his senior season and then opened up his recruitment after a pair of Georgia assistants left for Colorado State. Allen had a down-to-the-wire battle between Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, but he ultimately stuck with the Dawgs. He took an official visit to Michigan, and he visited Maryland, Ohio State and Rutgers unofficially. Allen is now part of Georgia’s offensive line rotation as a sophomore.