Each day counting down to Alabama's Week 1 matchup with Utah State, I will highlight one former player whose jersey number coincides with the amount of days until the game. Today, let's look back at arguably the most important player in the early part of the Saban era, Andre Smith. 

Andre Smith joined the Crimson Tide in 2006 as the top rated player in the nation and the lone five-star in Alabama's 12th ranked recruiting class.

A 6-foot-4, 348 lb. freshman, Smith instantly was one of the top options on the offensive line as soon as he arrived on campus.

Photo courtesy of @BamaBunker on Twitter
Photo courtesy of @BamaBunker on Twitter
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In his first year, the Birmingham native took over at left tackle and started all 13 games, becoming just the fourth player in program history to do so. Smith led the team in pancake blocks with 62 and was named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writer's Association of America.

As a sophomore, the domination continued. While the team finished just 7-6 in Saban's first year, Smith was sensational. The behemoth tackle was named an All-SEC selection and earned Alabama Co-Player of the Week honors four times throughout the season.

In his final season, Smith put together his best year yet. Not only did the Crimson Tide make its first trip back to the SEC title game since 1999, but Smith was named a unanimous All-American, All-SEC selection and took home the Outland Trophy, awarded to the top lineman in college football.

The former five-star entered the 2009 NFL Draft where he was regarded as one of the top prospects in the entire class. Smith was drafted sixth overall to the Cincinnati Bengals where he would spend the next seven seasons as the anchor of the offensive line.

After leaving Cincinnati in free agency, Smith signed a one-year deal with the Vikings, but only appeared in four games before a triceps injury would end his season. After his one-year stint in Minnesota, Smith bounced around a few teams on short term deals, returning to the Bengals twice and eventually finding himself in Baltimore ahead of the 2021 season.

Smith was elevated to the Ravens' active roster for five of the first six games, but was eventually released before the conclusion of the season.

As of now, Smith has yet to officially announce his retirement but it looks as if his days in the NFL may have come to a close. At 33-years old, the 12-year NFL veteran could still provide extra depth if a team needs some experienced leadership, but his time as a starter is like done.

Just 71 days remain until the Crimson Tide takes the field and kicks off its 2022 season. Stay locked in to Tide1009.com for the countdown to Alabama football.

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