Center Ryan Kelly joined Derrick Henry and Reggie Ragland on the 126th edition of the WCFF All-America First Team. Second team members included defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson and safety Eddie Jackson. Walter Camp, the distinguished “Father of American Football”, named his inaugural All-America team in 1889, three years prior to the Alabama Crimson Tide assembling a squad in 1892.
Fifty-three Tide student-athletes from the past and present have been so designated with First Team recognition by the prestigious organization. Six were two-time selections increasing the total number to fifty-nine – linebacker, C.J. Mosley Jr. (2013 & 2012), tackle/center, Barrett Jones (2012 & 2011), linebacker, @Cornelius Bennett (1986 & 1985), safety, Tommy Wilcox (1982 & 1981), linebacker, Thomas Boyd (1981 & 1980) and running back, Johnny Musso (1971 & 1970).
Henry is the first player in school history to be honored as the Walter Camp Player of the Year. He is the fifth Bama running back to be a First Team WCFF All-American joining Trent Richardson (2011), Mark Ingram (2009), Bobby Humphrey (1987) and Johnny Musso (1971 and 1970). Ragland is the 10th Tide linebacker following Dont'a Hightower (2011), Rolando McClain (2009), DeMeco Ryans (2005), Keith McCants (1989), Derrick Thomas (1988), Cornelius Bennett (1986 and 1985), Thomas Boyd (1981 and 1980), Woodrow Lowe (1974) and Mike Hall (1968). Kelly is the fifth center representing the crimson and white proceeding Barrett Jones (2012), Paul Crane (1965), Lee Roy Jordan (1962) and Joseph Domnanovich (1942). Nineteen players from The Capstone have been honored as First Team WCFF All-Americans during the Nick Saban era; eleven were named to the Second Team.
Recognition by the oldest and most distinguished college football organization in the country was not lost on the evening’s star attraction. “It’s a blessing. I’m very honored and thankful to win this award,” said Henry amidst shouts of “Roll Tide” as he approached the podium for his acceptance speech. “I thank my teammates and coaches. It was a goal of mine to be a Walter Camp All-American.” The junior running back set to leave Alabama for the 2016 NFL Draft made his first trip to the Nutmeg State. “They (WCFF) have great people here. It has been a great experience.” He was accompanied to the event by his father, Derrick Henry, Sr., mother, Stacy Veal and step-Dad, Latrell.
According to the foundation, The Walter Camp Trophy is awarded to the outstanding player of the year who has exemplified the qualities of self-discipline, unselfish team play, desire to excel, mature judgement and respect for leadership. He must be a dedicated competitor who has made effective use of his athletic talent to enhance the great American game of college football. His standout performance on the playing field must be accompanied by an equally strong effort to contribute to the betterment of the life of all his fellow human beings. He must exhibit an awareness of the need to fulfill his role as a leader. He must espouse the ideals adhered to by Walter Camp, the “Father of American Football”.
Dabo Swinney from the Clemson Tigers was present in "The Elm City" on Saturday as well to be honored as the 2015 Walter Camp Coach of the Year. The former walk-on wide receiver went on to earn a scholarship for The University of Alabama and was a member of the 1992 National Championship team.