Reggie Ragland is the (smiling) face of Alabama’s defense

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Reggie Ragland stands out on Alabama’s defense when the spotlight’s on.

He’s usually the one smiling. The All-America linebacker is the guy cracking jokes and reciting lines from his favorite movies at practice, the happy-go-lucky star on a team that often seems to mirror coach Nick Saban’s sternly stoic, all-business demeanor.

Ragland is the (smiling) face of the Crimson Tide’s defense going into Monday night’s national championship game against Clemson.

“I’m enjoying this moment and opportunity that I get,” he said. “Not a lot of people get this experience. So why not have fun with it?”

Most teammates and coaches looked all business when they stepped into a packed room for campus media day last week. Not Ragland, who burst through the door with a wide grin and a “How y’all doing?”

He’s not just the class cutup who can get away with calling coach Nick Saban “Nicholas,” but also one of the best players on the nation’s top-rated defense.

Ragland returned for his senior season instead of turning pro for the chance to graduate, fulfilling a promise to his mother when he got his consumer affairs degree in December. He moved into the play calling role for Alabama’s defense and became a unanimous All-American.

Ragland’s 97 tackles are 33 more than the Tide’s No. 2 tackler, fellow linebacker Reuben Foster. He was a Butkus Award finalist.

No wonder Ragland is smiling.

“It’s been great,” he said. “I’ve got something I can fall back on in my future, and hopefully I helped my stock. I really came back to get my degree and play with these guys. You don’t get too many moments like this.”

Ragland is the latest in a chain of `Bama linebacking stars, filling a role once occupied by current NFL players like C.J. Mosley and Rolando McClain.

“He’s as valuable as anybody to this defense,” Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones said. “Alabama defenses, the great ones, have always had a great middle linebacker, a great leader out there setting the tone. I think he does that.”

Ragland just does it with a sense of flair and personality. He was one of the first players to reach out and support freshman safety Ronnie Harrison when he arrived on campus, helping him push through offseason workouts.

“He’s like the Ray Lewis of our defense,” Harrison said. “He keeps everybody in line. He makes all the checks, all the calls. He makes sure everybody’s on the same page. He really keeps us in line.

“He always keeps us loose. He always recites old movie lines and stuff at practice. He keeps us loose and keeps us going.”

Ragland’s favorite flicks include “Soul Men” and “Friday,” where some of those lines come from.

He said he was never bashful about joking around with the intimidating Saban, even as an underclassman.

If they pass each other in the hall, Saban might say, “Hello, Reginald.” That draws the obvious response: “Hello Nicholas.”

If players like A’Shawn Robinson and Derrick Henry – and Saban, too – often take on unsmiling demeanors in public forums, Ragland favors a different style.

“That’s how they are when the camera comes on,” he said. “That’s just their personality. Me, I’m different. I like to smile and cut up with everybody.”

2019 All-American Bowl roster

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The future of college football will be on display in San Antonio on January 5th (1:00 P.M. ET) as the top high school recruits in the country participate in the All-American Bowl.

Here’s the roster for this year’s big event, and don’t miss a second of the action on NBC and the NBC Sports app.

No. First Last Pos. Ht. Wt. High School City State
1 Jadon Haselwood WR 6’3″ 195 Cedar Grove High School Ellenwood GA
2 Eric Gray RB 5’11” 195 Lausanne Collegiate School Memphis TN
3 Jaden Payoute DB 6’2″ 195 Lloyd C. Bird High School Chesterfield VA
4 David Bell WR 6’2″ 195 Warren Central High School Indianapolis IN
5 Chris Hinton DL 6’4″ 280 Greater Atlanta Christian School Norcross GA
6 Trey Sanders RB 6’2″ 215 IMG Academy Bradenton FL
7 Tyrique Stevenson DB 6’2″ 200 Miami Southridge Senior High School Miami FL
8 Dominick Blaylock WR 6’0″ 190 Walton High School Marietta GA
9 Frank Ladson WR 6’4″ 185 South Dade Senior High School Homestead FL
10 Kyle Hamilton DB 6’3″ 190 Marist School Atlanta GA
11 Mohamoud Diabate LB 6’4″ 220 Auburn High School Auburn AL
12 Taulia Tagovailoa QB 5’11” 205 Thompson High School Alabaster AL
13 Wandale Robinson WR 5’9″ 180 Western Hills High School Frankfort KY
14 Ronnie Hickman DB 6’2″ 200 DePaul Catholic High School Wayne NJ
15 Jay Bramblett P 6’2″ 190 Hillcrest High School Tuscaloosa AL
16 Graham Mertz QB 6’4″ 215 Blue Valley North High School Overland Park KS
17 Sam Howell QB 6’2″ 215 Sun Valley High School Monroe NC
18 Ramel Keyton WR 6’3″ 185 Marietta High School Marietta GA
19 Kane Patterson LB 6’1″ 220 Christ Presbyterian Academy Nashville TN
20 Nick Cross DB 6’1″ 210 DeMatha Catholic High School Hyattsville MD
21 Nolan Groulx WR 5’11” 190 William A. Hough High School Cornelius NC
22 Steele Chambers LB 6’2″ 225 Blessed Trinity Catholic High School Roswell GA
23 Tiawan Mullen DB 5’10” 160 Coconut Creek High School Pompano Beach FL
25 Cameron Smith DB 6’1″ 180 Westwood High School Blythewood SC
27 Quavaris Crouch RB 6’2″ 230 Harding University High School Charlotte NC
28 Alex Felkins K 6’4″ 190 Holland Hall School Tulsa OK
29 Chez Mellusi RB 6’1″ 205 Naples High School Naples FL
30 Quashon Fuller DL 6’4″ 270 Lehigh Senior High School Lehigh Acres FL
31 Tyron Hopper LB 6’2″ 210 Roswell High School Roswell GA
34 Keontra Smith DB 6’0″ 200 Chaminade-Madonna College Prep Hollywood FL
38 Diwun Black LB 6’4″ 225 Osceola High School Kissimmee FL
40 George Karlaftis DL 6’5″ 270 West Lafayette Junior / Senior High School West Lafayette IN
42 Nolan Smith DL 6’3″ 230 IMG Academy Bradenton FL
43 Jestin Jacobs LB 6’3″ 210 Northmont High School Clayton OH
44 Travon Walker DL 6’5″ 275 Upson Lee High School Thomaston GA
47 Byron Young DL 6’4″ 280 West Jones High School Laurel MS
51 William Putnam OL 6’4″ 285 H.B. Plant High School Tampa FL
52 Lance Dixon LB 6’3″ 210 West Bloomfield High School West Bloomfield Township MI
53 Quentin Skinner LS 6’0″ 245 Buford High School Buford GA
55 Dontae Lucas OL 6’4″ 350 IMG Academy Bradenton FL
56 Antonio Alfano DL 6’5″ 285 Colonia High School Colonia NJ
71 Andrew Kristofic OL 6’6″ 275 Pine-Richland High School Gibsonia PA
73 Caedan Wallace OL 6’5″ 305 The Hun School of Princeton Princeton NJ
74 Doug Nester OL 6’7″ 310 Spring Valley High School Huntington WV
75 Charles Cross OL 6’5″ 270 Laurel High School Laurel MS
76 Harry Miller OL 6’4″ 300 Buford High School Buford GA
77 Xavier Truss OL 6’7″ 330 Bishop Hendricken High School Warwick RI
81 Cornelius Johnson WR 6’3″ 195 Brunswick School Greenwich CT
88 Tyler Fromm TE 6’4″ 225 Warner Robins High School Warner Robins GA
93 Zach Harrison DL 6’6″ 245 Olentangy Orange High School Lewis Center OH
99 Khris Bogle DL 6’5″ 220 Cardinal Gibbons High School Fort Lauderdale FL

2019 All-American Bowl FAQs

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All-American Bowl Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What is the All-American Bowl Presented by American Family Insurance?

A: The All-American Bowl is the premier high school All-American game played annually in San Antonio, TX, showcasing 100 of the nation’s top high school senior football players.

 

Q: Who is playing in this game?

A: The nation’s premier high school football players. All players move on to major Division I football programs, and then some to the NFL.

 

Q: What dividing line do you use to organize the East and West teams?

A: The Mississippi River is the rough dividing line, pending position needs.

 

Q: Where is the game played?

A:  The game is played annually in San Antonio, TX, at the Alamodome. The game has been played in San Antonio since 2002 and the Alamodome since 2003. The first game, the 2001 game, was played in Dallas, TX.

 

Q: Is this game similar to the McDonald’s All-American Basketball game?

A: Yes, in that both of these games showcase the very best in high school athletes for their respective sports.

                                                                                                               

Q: When is the game?

A: The game is Saturday, January 5th, 2019.

 

Q: Is the game on TV?

A: The game is broadcast live on NBC at 12:00 p.m. Central Time.

 

Q: Who is All American Games?

A: All American Games helps the next generation succeed through America’s finest training and showcase events. Established in 2000, America’s premier youth and prep sports marketing company owns and produces the All-American Bowl presented by American Family Insurance, Football University (FBU), and the FBU National Championship. We foster a culture of evolution and teamwork, blazing trails and producing opportunity. We create experiences for student-athletes to develop, reach their potentials and realize their successes.

 

Q: Who picks the All-American athletes?

A: All American Games and 247Sports make up the game’s official Selection Committee.

 

Q: Why San Antonio?

A: One of the main attractions of San Antonio is the Alamodome, which is a climate-controlled, covered dome that does not have an NFL team.

 

Q: How many years has this game been played?

A: The 2019 game will be the 19th consecutive game.

 

Q: Where can I get more information on the game?

A: More information on the Bowl and its related activities can be found by logging onto allamericangames.com, or by connecting with the Bowl through its multiple social media accounts.

 

Q: What are the NBC college announcements?

A:  Each year, All-American athletes announce what college they will be attending via a live announcement ceremony during the game’s broadcast. College announcements always add extra excitement to the game. During the course of the game the players select their college live on NBC, with no one from the general public having any previous knowledge of their intentions. In the past high school stars like Reggie Bush, Patrick Peterson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Adrian Peterson have announced their college decision on live television during All-American Bowl presented by American Family Insurance.

 

Q: Are there any other events associated with the All-American Bowl presented by American Family Insurance?

A: Yes, they are:

  • The 2019 National Combine at the All-American Bowl, January 4th (the top 600 underclassmen football players from across the country)

 

Q: How do I nominate underclassmen for the National Combine?

 

A: Nominations from football coaches for outstanding juniors and sophomores are accepted year-round. Nominating a player for the combine does not mean he is automatically registered. The game’s selection partners will narrow the list to 600 underclassmen. As a participant in the combine it also does not guarantee a spot in the next year’s Bowl game.

 

Q: Who provides the resources for the players to play the game (i.e. travel, uniforms, etc.)

A: Pursuant to the NCAA, All American Games provides all necessary and reasonable expenses for each athlete to play in the game. Those expenses include round trip airfare, lodging, meals and essential needs.

 

Q: Where are tickets available?

A: Tickets are available through the Alamodome Box Office or through ticketmaster.com, (210) 207-3663, or toll free (800) 884-3663.

 

Q: What is the host hotel for the game?

A: The host hotel is the:

Grand Hyatt

1148 E Commerce St
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 224-1234