Defensive end Antwan Odom was voted the "Dwight Stephenson Most Valuable Lineman" by media members. ">
Defensive end Antwan Odom was voted the "Dwight Stephenson Most Valuable Lineman" by media members. ">

Athletes shine at A-Day

For a man just two days removed from a sick bed, quarterback Brodie Croyle had an outstanding day, earning the "Dixie Howell Most Valuable Player" award at Saturday's A-Day scrimmage. <br><br>Defensive end Antwan Odom was voted the "Dwight Stephenson Most Valuable Lineman" by media members.

Only last Wednesday Croyle missed practice sick with nausea and other assorted symptoms he'd rather not discuss in polite company. But Saturday's stats would have been impressive even for a quarterback in the picture of health. In barely more than two quarters of work, Croyle passed for 260 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was 13-of-22 on the afternoon. His longest completion went for 56 yards.

Antwan Odom was named the most valuable lineman.

Head Coach Mike Price talked about his prized pupil's performance. "I thought Brodie Croyle was very good," Price said afterwards at the press conference. "He really (showed courage). Not only that, but he played well."

After an interception on the scrimmage's first series, Croyle and the Crimson team took over on White's 25-yard line. Perhaps providing a glimpse of Bama's 2003 offense, the sophomore QB immediately went for the jugular, throwing a touchdown pass to Zach Fletcher in the end zone.

One play. One pass. One touchdown.

"That's just the mentality of this coaching staff," Croyle said. "They like to go deep. They like to get after you."

With the first teamers working against reserves on both sides of the ball, getting a read on the best lineman wasn't easy. But junior Antwan Odom was a disruptive force all afternoon.

Odom finished with four unassisted tackles, which led the Crimson squad (and all defensive linemen) in that category. Two of his tackles were behind the line of scrimmage for a total loss of 12 yards.

Croyle fought off illness to win MVP honors. (Associated Press)

"Antwan just needs to decide how good he wants to be," Tide Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines said after the scrimmage. "No matter how high he sets the mark, he's got a chance to achieve it."

Alabama is blessed with several talented linemen, but Odom is the prototype for an NFL defensive end. "Our job as coaches is to help him set his goals real high," Kines said. "He's got God-given ability and instincts. He's like many of our players, he just needs to have a great summer (of off-season work)."

The Tide only has three quarterbacks on scholarship. And one, Brandon Avalos, had his appendix removed two days ago, sidelining him for A-Day. So sitting out was simply not an option for Croyle.

Smiley won the leadership award.

"At halftime Brodie looked like he had just come from a concentration camp," Price related, shaking his head. "His skin was white and he had great big dark rings under his eyes. He's lost 12 pounds the last three days."

As the old saying goes, in the halftime locker room Croyle pretty much looked like "death warmed over." But at that point his numbers showed 224 yards on 10 completions, including three TDs. That works out to 22.4 yards per completion.

So, was that the best he's ever played with the flu? "I guess so, Croyle admitted with a smile. "I'm pretty much over being sick. I just haven't gotten my strength back yet."

With Avalos out, Bama's other scholarshipped quarterback, Spencer Pennington, was directing the White squad offense. And the Tide's only available backups (Mike Machen and Teo Clark) had not a single college snap between them.

Britt was honored for his work in the weight room.

Following the halftime break, Croyle went in for three more series, before leaving completely spent.

Croyle recalled the third quarter. "I was pretty worn down by halftime, but I went back out there and played a couple of more series. It just seemed like we played those entire series on the far right side of the field. I had to run all the way across the field to the left to get the play. It seemed like it took awhile."

Pennington finished out the scrimmage calling signals for the Crimson squad, while Machen took over the White team. Clark got in on some snaps at the end.

Pope won the Headhunter Award.

In addition to those two game awards, at the conclusion of each spring practice, Alabama coaches select a number of spring awards, named in honor of former Crimson Tide football stars.

This year the football coaching staff voted a new honor, the Mal Moore Leadership Award. The award, named for Bama's longtime assistant coach and offensive coordinator who now serves as director of athletics, was awarded to junior offensive guard Justin Smiley in recognition of his leadership on and off the field.

Smiley also won the Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award.

The complete list of honorees:

  • Lee Roy Jordan Headhunter: senior linebacker Derrick Pope
  • Jerry Duncan "I like to Practice": senior tailback Shaud Williams
  • Billy Neighbors Most Improved Defensive Lineman: sophomore defensive end Mark Anderson
  • Woodrow Lowe Most Improved Linebacker: freshman Juwan Garth
  • Bobby Johns Most Improved Defensive Back: sophomore strong safety Roman Harper
  • Paul Crane Most Improved Offensive Lineman: senior guard Dennis Alexander
  • Ray Perkins Most Improved Receiver: senior split end Zach Fletcher
  • Johnny Musso Most Improved Offensive Back: junior tailback Ray Hudson
  • Ozzie Newsome Most Improved Freshman: tailback Kenneth Darby
  • Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant Best Walk-on: freshman defensive tackle J.P. Adams
  • Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence: junior offensive guard Justin Smiley
  • Derrick Thomas Community Award: sophomore quarterback Brodie Croyle
  • Mal Moore Leadership: junior offensive guard Justin Smiley
  • Iron Man: junior offensive tackle Wesley Britt

Today's game marked the culmination of spring practice for the Tide. The next on-the-field action for the team will come in the heat of August when two-a-day practices begin.

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