Alabama players like Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Cam Robinson, and O.J. Howard may not win awards as national players of the year at their respective positions, but at least these outstanding members of the nation’s top-ranked Crimson Tide are being given a chance.
Just days after the Augusta (Ga.) Sports Council decided that two-time All-America punter JK Scott of Alabama, who is second in the nation in punting this year, wasn’t worthy of their group of 10 semifinalists, the Football Writers Association of America selected two Alabama players among five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the national defensive player of the year.
In Nebraska, the Greater Omaha Sports Commission announced that Crimson Tide offensive tackle Cam Robinson is one of five finalists for the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s top interior lineman.
And the Friends of Mackey announced that Bama’s O.J. Howard is one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end.
The Charlotte (N.C.) Touchdown Club, which presents the Nagurski Trophy, said that Bama seniors Allen and Foster are joined by defensive back Tarvarus McFadden (Florida State), linebacker/defensive back Jabrill Peppers (Michigan), and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (Clemson) as the five nominees. The award is named after the legendary Bronko Nagurski, who dominated college football at the University of Minnesota as a bruising fullback and defensive tackle from 1927-29.
This will be Alabama’s sixth consecutive season with at least one finalist for the award. The previous Crimson Tide players to be named finalists include: Reggie Ragland (2015), Landon Collins (2014), C.J. Mosley (2013), Dee Milliner (2012), Mark Barron (2011), Terrence Cody (2009) and Rashad Johnson (2008).
This year’s winner will be announced on Dec. 5.
Allen has been a force for one of the nation’s top-ranked units, anchoring the defensive line. He has a team-high 13 quarterback hurries to go with his 40 tackles, seven of which are sacks (-55 yards), which ranks second on the team. The senior defensive lineman has returned a team-leading two fumble recoveries for 105 combined yards and two touchdowns. His 25 career sacks places him second on the Tide’s all-time list behind former Crimson Tide standout and NFL Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas.
From the linebacker spot, Foster has been the Crimson Tide’s heartbeat of the defense with a team-high 70 tackles. As the main signal caller for one of the nation’s top-ranked units, the senior has led the team in tackles in six of the Crimson Tide’s 10 games this season and has helped the Alabama defensive unit limit opponents to only 12.8 points per game on the season. He has also collected seven tackles for loss (-27 yards) and two sacks (-18 yards) to go along with four quarterback hurries and two pass breakups on the year.
Robinson, a junior junior three-year starter at left tackle for Alabama, anchors the Crimson Tide offensive line. His play has helped the Alabama offense rank 14th nationally and first in the Southeastern Conference in scoring offense at 41.2 points per game.
The Monroe, La., native has blocked for ten 100-yard rushers in games this season and 27 100-yard rushers during his three year career. This season, he has recorded 21 knockdown blocks in 10 games while protecting Alabama quarterbacks from some of the top edge pass rushers in the nation.
Howard, a senior who was Offensive MVP in last season’s national championship win over Clemson, has kept up his stellar play as a senior. In Alabama’s 10-0 season to date, Howard has caught 29 passes for 352 yards to average 12.1 yards per catch while adding two touchdowns. He has at least one catch in every game this year and has improved as the season wears on, recording 15 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown in his last three contests. Howard has also improved on his blocking this season, helping the Crimson Tide rushers accumulate 2,581 yards through 10 games to average 258.1 yards per game on the ground.
Finalists for the Mackey Award will be announced on Nov. 22 and the winner announced Dec. 8. The Mackey Award is given annually to the most outstanding tight end in college football and has been presented each year since 2000.