Stuart McNair

Alabama players have dominated in individual awards under Nick Saban

Jonathan Allen was winner of four major individual awards in 2016

When former Auburn Coach Pat Dye brought up the subject of tradition recently, saying that Auburn couldn’t catch Alabama in college football tradition in 500 years, the initial thought was the Crimson Tide’s huge gap over Auburn (and almost every other college football team) in things like national championships (Bama has 16), Southeastern Conference titles (26), all-time wins (894), winning percentage (72.9), bowl games and College Football Playoff games (66), bowl victories (37), etc.
Those numbers have grown dramatically in the 10 years of the Nick Saban Era as he has compiled a record of 119-19 with four national championships, four SEC crowns, and a record of 8-4 in bowls and CFP games.
But Alabama also has a tremendous tradition in individual honors, including 124 players being recognized as first team All-America a total of 158 times.
There has been more emphasis placed on national individual awards in recent years. The Heisman Trophy, given to the nation’s best player, has been perhaps the most recognized individual award in sports for many years, but Alabama had never had a Heisman Trophy winner prior to the arrival of Saban. Now Bama players have won two of the last eight, Mark Ingram in 2009 and Derrick Henry in 2015.
Alabama added to its list of individual winners in stunning fashion in 2016 with defensive end Jonathan Allen winning the Lombardi Award as the nation’s best lineman, the Bednarik and Nagurski trophies as the nation’s best defensive player, and the Hendricks Award as the nation’s best defensive end. Allen joined Cornelius Bennett (1986) as Bama’s second Lombardi winner and was the first Crimson Tide player to win the Bednarik, Nagurski, and Hendricks honors.
Reuben Foster was presented with the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker, previously won by Derrick Thomas in 1986 and by Saban linebackers Rolando McClain (2009) and C.J. Mosley (2013).
Offensive tackle Cam Robinson was winner of the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top interior lineman, joining Chris Samuels (1999) and Saban linemen Andre Smith (2008) and Barrett Jones (2011).
Barrett Jones is also Alabama’s only winner of the William V. Campbell Trophy, the so-called “Academic Heisman.” He was awarded the trophy for his combination of academics, athletics, and community leadership.
Jones is also Alabama’s only winner of the Wuerffel Trophy, which he won in 2011 for community service, academics and athletics achievements.
The Rimington Trophy presented to the nation’s best center has gone to two Alabama players, both in the Saban Era, Jones in 2012 and Ryan Kelly in 2015.
Quarterback A.J. McCarron became Alabama’s second winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 2013. Jay Barker had been a Tide honoree in 1994.
The Maxwell Trophy, given to the nation’s best player, went to McCarron in 2013 and to Derrick Henry in 2015.
Henry was Walter Camp Player of the Year in 2015 and the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s best running back went to Trent Richardson in 2011 and Henry in 2015.
Amari Cooper claimed the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver in 2014.
Special team awards have also come to Alabama in the Saban Era. The Joe Moore Award for the nation’s best offensive line, went to Alabama’s corps in 2015. The Disney Spirit Award was presented to the Alabama team for its service to Tuscaloosa in 2011 following the devastating tornado in April that year.
Additionally, Alabama has had one winner of the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding assistant coach. It went to Kirby Smart in 2009.
Only two awards presented to Alabama players have not been claimed by Tiders from the Saban Era — linebacker DeMeco Ryans taking the 2005 Lott Trophy given to the nation’s top defensive player who also exemplifies integrity, academics, and community service; and cornerback Antonio Langham, winner of the Jim Thorpe Award in 1993 as the nation’s best defensive back.


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