WHERE ARE THEY NOW? The stars of the first national championship game between Alabama and Clemson

Many of the stars of the first national championship that pitted Alabama against Clemson in 2016 have gone on to become impressive NFL players.

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Many of the stars of the first national championship that pitted Alabama against Clemson in 2016 have gone on to become impressive NFL players.
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  • Alabama and Clemson have been the most dominant college football programs in the country for four years.
  • The rivalry between the teams began in the 2016 national championship – the first of four consecutive postseason meetings for the Tigers and Tide.
  • Many of the stars from that first title game have now gone on to NFL careers.

The past few years of college football have been defined by the rivalry between the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide.

Since 2016, the teams have met every year in the College Football Playoff, with three of those meetings coming in the national championship.

While coaches Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban are constants at the two schools, an impressive number of players from the first Bama-Clemson title game now playing in the NFL.

Check out where the biggest stars from the first chapter of this storied rivalry are today.


Deshaun Watson threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns in his first national title game, coming up just short of a winning effort for the Tigers.

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After finding redemption in the 2017 national championship, Watson was selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.

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Jake Coker was quarterback for the Crimson Tide in the 2016 national championship, throwing for 335 yards and two scores to lead Alabama to victory.

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Coker went undrafted and was briefly signed with the Cardinals. He was released before the 2016 season. After another knee surgery, Coker announced his retirement from football.

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Calvin Ridley was a true freshman for the 2016 national championship. After a huge performance in the semifinal, Ridley had six receptions but was held to just 14 yards against the Tigers.

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Ridley would help Alabama to another title in 2018 before getting drafted by the Atlanta Falcons and becoming an immediate impact player alongside Julio Jones.

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Derrick Henry won the Heisman for his 2015 season with Alabama, and proved worthy of the award in the championship, rushing for 158 yards and three touchdowns on a whopping 36 carries.

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Henry was drafted in the second round by the Tennessee Titans, and is now one of the most powerful backs in the NFL.

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Tight end Jordan Leggett had five receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown against Alabama in the big game.

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He was drafted by the New York Jets in 2017. After a knee injury set his career back a year, he finally recorded his first NFL catch in 2018.

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O.J. Howard was Alabama’s leading receiver against Clemson, connecting with Coker for 208 yards and two scores in the big win.

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Howard was drafted by Tampa Bay in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and had 565 yards and five touchdowns as the Buccaneers lead tight end in the 2018 season.

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Center Ryan Kelly was a consensus first team All-American in his senior year snapping the ball for Alabama.

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He was selected by the Colts in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, and is a vital piece of Indianapolis’ protection of quarterback Andrew Luck.

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Cam Robinson played tackle for Alabama, protecting Coker and opening up some big holes for Henry to run through.

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Robinson was selected with the 34th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He started 15 games at left tackle as a rookie, but suffered a torn ACL early in 2018 that landed him on injured reserve.

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Besides Watson, Wayne Gallman was Clemson’s leading rusher in the national title game, going for 45 yards and a score.

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Gallman was selected in the fourth round by the New York Giants in 2017, and currently backs up Saquon Barkley in the backfield.

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ArDarius Stewart had two catches for 63 yards for Alabama as a sophomore in the 2016 title game.

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Stewart was drafted by the Jets as a third-rounder in 2017, but was released by the team in October of 2018. He finished the year on the Redskins practice squad.

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Defensive end Jonathan Allen had 12 sacks for the Crimson Tide in the 2015 season leading up to the national title game.

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Allen was drafted by the Redskins with the 17th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and started all 16 games of the 2018 season, finishing the year with eight sacks.

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Reuben Foster was a starting linebacker for Alabama in the 2015 season, and gave Watson trouble in the backfield throughout the title game.

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After being drafted in the first round in 2017 by the San Francisco 49ers, Foster was released by the team amidst charges of domestic violence. Washington would later pick up Foster, but it’s still unclear if he’ll suit up in the NFL again.


Ray-Ray McCloud was a freshman during the first chapter of Clemson and Alabama’s championship rivalry.

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After two more seasons with the Tigers, McCloud declared for the draft, and was picked by the Bills in the sixth round.

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Cornerback Marlon Humphrey was an essential part of Alabama’s dominant defense, finishing his redshirt freshman season with three interceptions.

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Humphrey was drafted by the Ravens with pick no. 16 of the 2017 NFL Draft and is once again a vital part of a brilliant defense.

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T. J. Green played safety for the Tigers in the 2016 national championship game.

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Green was drafted by the Colts but released by the team in 2018. He signed with the Seahawks later in the year, but wound up walking away from football instead.

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Mackensie Alexander was another important part of the Clemson secondary, refusing to give up a passing touchdown to an opposing receiver all season.

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The Minnesota Vikings drafted Alexander with the 54th pick in 2016.

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B.J. Goodson was a captain and leading tackler on the Clemson defense through the 2015 season.

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B. J. Goodson was drafted by the Giants with a fourth-round pick in 2016. After starting his career as a special teams player, Goodson won the starting middle linebacker role heading into the 2017.

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Kevin Dodd had three sacks in the national championship for the Tigers — the cap to an impressive senior year.

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Dodd was drafted by the Titans in 2016, and released by the team in 2018 after he failed to report to training camp.

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A’Shawn Robinson started at defensive tackle for every game of the 2015 season, helping Alabama and their dominant run defense.

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The Lions drafted Robinson in the second round in the 2016 NFL Draft, where he’s still a nuisance for opposing offensive lines.

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Shaq Lawson had an impressive 12.5 sacks for Clemson in the 2015 season.

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The Bills drafted him in the first round in 2016.

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Kenyan Drake had one of the most memorable plays of the national championship, returning a kick 95 yards to the house to put Alabama up two scores.

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Drake was drafted by the Dolphins in 2016, and is now a big part of the Miami offense.

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Safety Eddie Jackson was named defensive MVP of the 2016 national championship, recording three tackles and an interception in the Alabama win.

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He was drafted by Chicago in 2017.

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Charone Peake was the leading receiver for the Tigers, finishing the game with six receptions and 99 yards.

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Peake was drafted by the Jets in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

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Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow played every game of the 2015 season as a redshirt freshman after walking on to the team, and scored two touchdowns against Alabama in the title game.

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Now a senior, the 2019 national championship will be Renfrow’s final game as a Tiger.

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JK Scott kicked seven punts for the Crimson Tide against the Tigers in 2016.

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Scott now punts for the Green Bay Packers.

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Kicker Greg Huegel made two of three field goal attempts as well as four extra points for the Tigers in the 2016 title game.

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Now a senior, Huegel is one of the few players that has been a part of all four matchups between Clemson and Alabama.

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