Tiders Contend For Top Awards
As would be expected, second ranked Alabama, with a 10-1 record and national championship aspirations, has many worthy individual award candidates.
Trent Richardson was named a finalist for the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award, while left tackle Barrett Jones was selected as a finalist for the Outland Trophy. Mark Barron was tabbed as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and Dont'a Hightower was selected as a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award.
Richardson, a junior from Pensacola, Fla., leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks fourth nationally with 1,380 yards and 22 total touchdowns. He is the Crimson Tide's second Doak Walker Award finalist in the last three years – joining Mark Ingram in 2009. The Doak Walker Award goes to the nation's top running back. The Maxwell Award goes to the Collegiate Player of the Year.
"It is something I have dreamed of my entire life to be a finalist for the Doak Walker Award and the Maxwell Award," Richardson said. "I have to thank my teammates, especially the offensive line, because I wouldn't have this opportunity without their help. I am very proud to be a finalist and blessed to be put in this situation."
Jones, a native of Germantown, Tenn., has helped clear a path for Richardson throughout the season and protected quarterback A.J. McCarron's blindside. He is looking to be the Crimson Tide's third Outland Trophy winner, joining Chris Samuels (1999) and Andre Smith (2008). Jones has started nine games at left tackle this season after starting 25 games the previous two seasons at right guard.
"It is a really big honor to be an Outland finalist," Jones said. "It is something that has been a goal of mine for a very long time, but more than anything it is a team award. I play on a great offensive line, have great running backs to make me look good and a tremendous coaching staff."
Hightower, a fourth-year junior from Lewisburg, Tenn., is one of three finalists for the Chuck Bendarik Award, which goes to the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year. He has a team-high 72 tackles on the season with 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Hightower is also responsible for the on-field calls and checks for the front seven, and has added one interception, one blocked field goal, eight quarterback hurries and three pass breakups.
Barron, a senior from Mobile, the leader of the Alabama secondary is a finalist for the Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation's best defensive back. He has 37 career starts and 65 tackles this season. He leads the team with two interceptions and has 34 career passes defended. Barron is also a finalist for the Nagurski Award.
Junior long snapper Cason Tinker will also be on hand to represent Alabama and accept the Disney Spirit Award, which was announced on Monday.
It was also announced last week that Hightower and Courtney Upshaw were selected as finalists for the Lombardi Award, which goes to the nation's top linebacker or interior lineman. That award will be announced on Dec. 7, in Houston, Texas.
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