Coaching staff names captains, other postseason awards

As the Alabama Crimson Tide football team gathered in Birmingham for its annual banquet to not only celebrate its SEC Championship and season as a whole, but also to receive confirmation that the Tide will be playing Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship, there were also some personal awards to give out.

Offensive lineman Barrett Jones, offensive lineman Chance Warmack and defensive lineman Damion Square were named team captains and will have their hand and footprints planted in cement near Denny Chimes at A-Day in 2013.

Here is a list of the other awards and the players who received them.

cj Most Valuable Player

Linebacker C.J. Mosley. Mosley led the team in tackles by a longshot with 99, towering above Trey Depriest, who is in second with 56. Mosley also tied the school record for career defensive touchdowns, with three. Mosley’s interception and 16-yard touchdown return against Michigan was his third, tying the mark set by Antonio Langham (1990-1993).

Iron Man Award

Running back T.J. Yeldon, kicker Cade Foster, H-Back Kelly Johnson and defensive lineman Jesse Williams.

tink Unsung Hero Award

Wide receiver Kenny Bell, defensive lineman Quinton Dial, long snapper Carson Tinker (pictured left, 51), linebacker Xzavier Dickson and place kicker Jeremy Shelley (pictured left, 5).

Outstanding Scholar Senior Award

Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack.

Outstanding Defensive Performer Award

C.J. Mosley and cornerback Dee Milliner

Up-Front Award

Defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan, defensive lineman Ed Stinson, offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio and offensive lineman Anthony Steen.

Most Inspiring Player

Damion Square

Commitment to Academic Excellence Award

Linebacker Denzel Devall, cornerback Geno Smith, offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, Quinton Dial and offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio

haha Defensive Achievement Award

Linebacker Adrian Hubbard, cornerback Deion Belue, safety HaHa Clinton-Dix (pictured right returning his interception in the SEC Championship game), and linebacker Trey DePriest

Offensive Achievement Award

Wide receiver Amari Cooper, running back Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon and offensive lineman D.J. Fluker

President’s Award

Jesse Williams, safety Robert Lester, Chance Warmack and wide receiver Kevin Norwood

Special Teams Award

Safety Vinnie Sunseri, punter Cody Mandell, wide receiver/punt returner Christion Jones, safety Landon Collins

Defensive Players of the Year

Linebacker Nico Johnson and Dee Milliner

barrett-aj Offensive Players of the Year

Quarterback AJ McCarron and Barrett Jones (pictured together, left)

Pat Trammell Award

Tight end Michael Williams and Nico Johnson

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All photos courtesy of the AP

AJ McCarron Award Watch

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron’s redshirt junior season has yet to be deemed a successful one by him, as the national championship has yet to be claimed for the Crimson Tide, but many others have taken those duties for him.

After being included in the Heisman Trophy talks for several weeks, McCarron has been named a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (pictured left) and the Manning Award.

News to him.

U“I didn’t even know that until you just told me,” McCarron said.

Now that McCarron does know, he probably will think about it just as much as he did before he was aware: none.

“I don’t think it’s a distraction at all,” McCarron said. “If anything it shows how great my teammates are. This is a game, it doesn’t matter how many individual awards there are, even the Heisman Trophy. It’s not an individual award, as much as people try to make it to be. If you didn’t have your teammates none of that would be possible.

“Being blessed enough to be put into those finalists for all those awards, like I said it’s truly a blessing but like I said none of it’s possible without my teammates. I give them all the thanks and all the praise.”

McCarron is a finalist with the following players for his three awards.

Unitas: Kansas State’s Collin Klein, USC’s Matt Barkley, West Virginia’s Geno Smith and Florida State’s E.J. Manuel.

ajAndrew Luck of Stanford won the award  last season. One Alabama quarterback has won the award, Jay Barker in 1994.

Manning: Barkley, Klein, Smith, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Jordan Lynch of North Illinois, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and Georgia’s Aaron Murray.

Nick Saban Press Conference Video: Nov. 28, 2012

Special teams big for the ‘Dawgs

The Mark Richt tenure as the head coach at Georgia has been mired with many negative perceptions, including the head man on the hot seat, discipline issues galore and inconsistencies in big games.

One thing, however, has remained constant: blocked kicks.

UGA blocked kick Under Richt, the Bulldogs have blocked more than two kicks in a season five times, including setting the program record for a single season with nine (five punts, four field goals).

“They’ve got big guys and they really push you inside on field goals,” head coach Nick Saban said. “They’ve got some good guys to come off the edge. I think they always have good scheme against how they want to try to rush you.

“And they’ve got really good team speed. That’s always helpful when you have skill guys that you can put in position to try to get free to do those kinds of things.”

So far this season, the Bulldogs have blocked four kicks: two punts, one extra point and one field goal, and have converted on those blocks for nine points.

It’s the points after those blocked kicks that are a concern for Saban and the Tide.

“Those are the kinds of things in games like this that are very, very critical that you execute well,” Saban said. “Those are huge field position type things, getting kicks blocked and everything.”

Football Practice Video: Nov. 28, 2012

Today’s practice video features a pair of fantastic one-handed catches from wideout Cyrus Jones and defensive back Nick Perry, in addition to more video of the wide receivers, defensive backs and quarterbacks.

Before you view, click here to read my report from practice, including an update on the status of wide receiver Chris Black and which NFL general manager was in attendance.

COLUMN: Black may be able to, but should not play

Is it February? No? Fine. But it definitely is August, right?

No?

Sorry, again. Normally, hype around unproven true freshmen like Chris Black only centers around signing day and the beginning of preseason camp.

Now, here we go again.

The leg injury to Kenny Bell that has likely ended his season has sent the Alabama coaching staff on yet another search for production at the wide receiver position, also losing DeAndrew White to a knee injury early in the season.

The crisis of sorts has forced the coaching staff to turn to Black, the Jacksonville native, as a possible player in the SEC Championship game, therefore ruining his redshirt season for one or two games.

Saban has said the following on Black and the status of the wide receivers group.

Fortunately or unfortunately, one of those guys that we lost is now ready to come back. He’s been practicing for three weeks now. Now he’s been cleared. So we’re going to try to get him some reps because we’re getting down to where we only have maybe five guys that have much experience at the position.

Now, excuse me if I am mistaken, but I’ve never seen a formation with more than five wide receivers on the field. Have you?

A look at the roster tells me that Alabama is fine at the wide receiver position, without Black.

Alabama still has two of its top three receivers in terms of yards: fellow Floridian freshman Amari Cooper with 767 yards and a team-high 45 catches, plus Kevin Norwood, who is second only to Cooper in receptions with 26 and has 395 yards out of it.

Behind Norwood in receiving yards is Christion Jones with 306. Beyond that is Cyrus Jones, who you have seen returning punts at times and catching four passes on the season.

Even more, we have yet to mention Danny Woodson, Jr., Marvin Shinn, or unheralded senior Nathan McAlister.

By my count, that’s seven wide receivers and for the most part, a maximum of four wide receiver spots on the field to fill. However, more often than not Alabama will trot out three wideouts (as the depth chart specifies), and conveniently, three of those seven names above (Chr. Jones, Cooper and Norwood) have more than 20 receptions and stand at Nos. 1, 2 and 4 on the team in catches.

With that type of talent and production at-the-ready, I see no reason to burn the redshirt on a player who, according to some, was one of the best players in a talent-rich recruiting class.

Although they are the two most important games of the season, being the only two in postseason play, are those two games worthy of throwing away an entire year of eligibility for a potential stand-out wide receiver for only two games, especially when the current recruiting class only has one true wide receiver (Raheem Falkins) and the 2015 and possibly ‘16 teams could really use another playmaker at the position?

Football Practice Video: Nov. 26, 2012

The Alabama Crimson Tide hit the practice field for the first time of SEC Championship week Monday afternoon, and Chris Black stole the show, practicing for the first time in a regular white jersey as opposed to the noncontact black jersey. There’s also a bonus drill or two thrown in for you.