In the past 15 seasons, the Alabama football team has played 192 games. That's a whole lot of "Roll Tide," to be sure, with 12 bowl games and three national championships along the way.
In all those games, there is a club that includes just five opposing players. One of the newest Broncos, 6-foot-5, 250-pound defensive end Quanterus Smith of Western Kentucky, joined that select group last September.
"That's Alabama, you know? I knew that was a day I could make people notice what I'm about," Smith said. "If people had questions about me, about my level of competition or whatever, I could answer them. I guess it was a big part of what people thought of me before the draft. I just felt like that was going to be a good day, one where I could do some things, maybe get my name out there."
Mission accomplished. On that sunny afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Ala., when most folks had a postgame stop for the postgame ribs at Dreamland Bar-B-Que already on their minds as they settled into their seats, Smith sacked Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron three times, a rare feat in any year against Alabama as he became one of only five players to accomplish in the past 15 years. Those three sacks may have been the boost to push Smith into the fifth round of the NFL draft, where the Broncos snagged him.
Alabama allowed three sacks in only one other game all season, to Georgia. Smith beat an offensive line that included two first-round picks in the draft (D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack) and the No. 112 overall selection (center Barrett Jones).
For a player who couldn't work out at the scouting combine or attend any of the postseason all-star games because of his recovery from knee surgery, those three sacks were all the film needed for NFL teams to gain interest in Smith.
"It was his pass-rush ability," said John Elway, the Broncos' executive vice president of football operations. "He's got a unique ability to rush the passer. We saw one of his best games was against two really good tackles at Alabama. (Smith has) the unique ability to duck and a great feel to rush the passer."
Said Smith: "That's a level of competition people needed to see. If I didn't have that, if it didn't happen and I couldn't work out for people, I don't know what happens in the draft. Maybe nothing."