JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s top blocker, cornerback and receiver are skipping their final seasons to enter the NFL draft.
Outland Trophy-winning left tackle Cam Robinson, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and wide receiver ArDarius Stewart announced their decisions on Friday, four days after the Crimson Tide lost to Clemson in the national championship game. Robinson and Humphrey are both projected as first-round picks.
Alabama won a national championship and three Southeastern Conference titles during their careers before succumbing on a touchdown with 1 second left in Monday night’s 35-31 loss .
“It’s been bittersweet, because we didn’t finish the season the way we wanted to,” Robinson said. “You always want to finish the season on the right note, but knowing that would be the last game that I would ultimately play with my teammates and with this coaching staff and for this university and these fans, that was tough.”
Alabama was already losing a number of its biggest stars among the seniors, including defensive end Jonathan Allen , tight end O.J. Howard and linebackers Reuben Foster, Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson. This just adds to the annual talent exodus of a team with four national titles in eight years.
The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Robinson started every game at left tackle during his three-year career. He said he received a first-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board.
Robinson and defensive back Hootie Jones were arrested on drug and weapons charges last May in Louisiana. The prosecutor did not pursue the charges, citing insufficient evidence and saying that he didn’t want to ruin their lives.
Robinson said he expects to face questions from NFL teams about his character.
“Of course, and I’ll be prepared for that,” he said. “That’s a question they ask. I’m sure I’ll get asked questions about it.”
Humphrey said he handed over his own letter from the board to his parents without opening the envelope and that he didn’t want to know the results until after the championship game.
“I gave it to them and I told them I didn’t want to talk about it or be bothered about it,” said Humphrey, whose father Bobby was an Alabama and NFL running back. He said they told him he had a first- or second-round grade.
Humphrey started the past two years after redshirting in 2014, recording 36 tackles and returning an interception for a touchdown this season. He leaves with two years of eligibility remaining.
“It was a little tough after losing a championship, but I still had to make that decision,” Humphrey said. “I’ve decided that you can’t play football forever. I’ll have happier days off the field than I will on the field.”
Stewart led the Tide in receiving with 864 yards and eight touchdowns despite missing two games with a sprained knee and one for a suspension. He’s rated as a likely second- or third-round draft pick.
Stewart’s production dipped late in the season as the Tide’s passing game struggled . He had two catches for 12 yards against Clemson and didn’t catch a ball in the semifinal game against Washington.
“That’s part of the game,” Stewart said. “You can’t get frustrated because if you get frustrated, then everything falls apart. You’ve just got to keep going and turn the page. At the end of the day, things are going to happen like that.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban said he’s asked all three to commit to finishing their degrees at some point. He said they had done the right things in making progress toward graduation and “helping themselves develop a career on the field.”
“These players all know that they are part of the fabric of this organization,” Saban said.
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