Minkah Fitzpatrick picks off Danny Etling (Photo by Stuart McNair)

Alabama should be on watch lists for 2017 football honorees

Minkah Fitzpatrick was consensus All-America last year

With it having been announced that Alabama senior Bradley Bozeman is on the Rimington Award watch list for nation’s best center, what other Crimson Tide players might be considered for 2017 preseason honors? The watch lists for various awards will be released over the next few weeks.
Of course, preseason recognition doesn’t really count, but Alabama players under Coach Nick Saban have been dominating awards in the postseason, too, just as the Crimson Tide has become the dominant program in college football. That early recognition, coupled with excellent play (individual and to some extent team) results in trophies.
It will be hard to equal the performances of the 2016 team, primarily because of defensive end Jonathan Allen.
Allen won the most prestigious awards a defensive lineman can earn — the Nagurski and Badnarik awards as the nation’s best defensive player, the Hendricks as the best defensive end, and the Lombardi as the nation’s best lineman on offense or defense.
Reuben Foster won the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker.
Offensive tackle Reuben Foster took home the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman and the Jacobs Award selected by Southeastern Conference coaches as the league’s best blocker.
Allen, Foster, and Robinson were all unanimous All-America, and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was consensus All-America. Tight end O.J. Howard and cornerback Marlon Humphrey were both named first team All-America.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts and offensive tackle Jonah Williams were both Freshman All-America selections.
Fitzpatrick, Hurts, and Williams return and will likely be mentioned for preseason awards, along with Bozeman.
Upcoming senior punter JK Scott has been ranked among the nation’s best punters in each of his first three seasons.
Alabama has a number of outstanding running backs with Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris the most likely to be up for awards.
Junior Ross Pierschbacher has been a solid performer the past two years as Bama’s starting left guard.
Hurts having had a full year as a starter could become more of a passing threat this year, and that could mean an honors season for junior wide receiver Calvin Ridley.
Junior nose tackle DaRon Payne was in the shadow of Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson last year, but is considered one of the outstanding defensive linemen in college football.
Alabama has had great success with linebackers under Saban. In addition to Foster last season, the Tide has also had Butkus Award winners in Rolando McClain and C.J. Mosley. The linebacker corps was mostly decimated by graduation, but Shaun Dion Hamilton will return at middle linebacker and be joined in the middle by Rashaan Evans, both of whom have been outstanding.
Ronnie Harrison playing at safety alongside Fitzpatrick gives the Tide a great pair of playmakers, and cornerback Anthony Averett was excellent in his first year as a starter in 2016.
It’s not to say that others won’t end up as stars this season, but those who have already performed at a high level are the ones who will have the best shots at being on the preseason watch lists.
Alabama is expected to be very good in 2017 because the Crimson Tide has very good players, and Bama should have its share of honorees.

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