Alabama Loses Trent Richardson, Dont’a Hightower and Dre Kirkpatrick To NFL Draft

Alabama on Thursday was dealt not one, not two but three blows when All-American underclassmen Trent Richardson, Dont’a Hightower and Dre Kirkpatrick announced that they would leave the school and try their luck in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Speaking of his decision Richardson said:

”To leave a legacy like me and Dre have left here, to have two national championships in three years, I think that’s pretty big for us and our family and for the University of Alabama.”

Both Richardson and Kirkpatrick are favorites to be picked in the first round and held a news conference to announce their decisions while Hightower, also a possible first round pick choice chose to issue a written statement.

For his part Richardson was a dynamic force on the Alabama team, setting the schools single-season rushing record with 1,679 yards and the touchdown record with 21 end zone celebrations. Richardson along with Kirkpatrick were All-America selections while Kirkpatrick was selected as a second-teamer.

News of the mass exodus comes just three days after the Tide defeated LSU 21-0. During that victory Richardson ran for 96 yards and scored the games only touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Hightower was also a presence for Alabama this year with a team high 85 tackles. After missing most of the 2009 season with a knee injury he was eligible for a fifth season but chose to pass up the option for a chance at NFL glory.

Do you think Alabama will be able to quickly replace their All-American players effectively next season or will the loss of these three men hurt the teams chances at once again defending its championship trophy?