All-Star Nominees

Midway through each football season, nominations are made for various all-star teams. This year it appears that the Alabama players with the best chances at earning post-season honors will be three redshirt freshmen who are starting in the offensive line. And it may be that the most likely honoree among upperclassmen is also an offensive lineman.

The University of Alabama has 13 nominees. It is from lists of each school that selectors (including the media and coaches) will determine All-America, All-Southeastern Conference, and Freshman All-America and Freshman All-SEC squads.

In a major change from recent seasons, Alabama has nominated four of its five offensive line starters. The group of three redshirt freshmen, tackles Wesley Britt and Evan Mathis, and guard Justin Smiley, are very likely to end up on the Freshman All-SEC team. It is also possible that one or more could receive All-SEC and/or Freshman All-America recognition. Britt is 6-8, 313, from Cullman; Mathis 6-5, 281 from Homewood; and Smiley 6-3, 295 from Ellabell, Georgia.

Also nominated is Alonzo Ephraim, who will probably get the coaches' nod for All-SEC at center. Because this is his first year to start he may not have had enough previous publicity to get media honors. He's a 6-4, 292-pound junior from Birmingham.

It would not be a surprise for senior tight end Terry Jones (6-4, 267 from Tuscaloosa) to make All-SEC, but it will also not be a surprise if he does not.

Some Crimson Tide players have played very well, but won't earn post-season honors because of very outstanding players from other schools at the same position. Foremost among them is placekicker Neal Thomas, a senior from Clinton, Mississippi. Auburn's Damon Duval has this spot wrapped up on the basis of his game-winning kicks.

Although he is coming off a lack-luster game this week, in some years the play of Tide quarterback Tyler Watts would have been worthy of all-star recognition. A year after suffering a serious knee injury, Watts, a 6-3, 217-pound junior from Pelham, has come back to be one of the top offensive threats in the SEC. One wit noted that Watts' statistics would be a lot better if he ever had the chance to play against Alabama's secondary.

Wide receiver Antonio Carter 5-9, 191 junior from Tallahassee, Florida, is another who has the skill to be an all-star candidate, but he is not likely to have the numbers as Alabama's receivers have had to share the wealth this season. An irony is that if Alabama lands a kick return specialist on all-star teams it will likely be senior Freddie Milons (5-11, 187 senior from Starkville, Mississippi), who has not had as good a year as Carter either as a receiver or as a kick return man. Milons had some pre-season build-up, but has not had an all-star game since the 1999 SEC Championship Game, when he was the Most Valuable Player.

Middle linebacker Saleem Rasheed (6-3, 223, junior from Birmingham) is another player with glowing press credentials, but not such brilliant performance this season. Rasheed had an excellent freshman year, earning "SEC Freshman Defensive Player of the Year," but has not been dominating.

Three defensive linemen are on Alabama's list of nominees, and one or more could be honored. Probably the most effective player has been tackle Jarret Johnson, 6-4, 274 junior from Chiefland, Florida. He was an All-SEC selection by The Birmingham News last year. End Kindal Moorehead (6-4, 228, junior, Memphis) has more accolades than even Milons or Rasheed, and after missing last year with an injury is on pace to have his best season ever at Alabama. Kenny King (6-5, 277, junior from Daphne) made the switch from end to nose tackle and is having a solid season, but doesn't have great statistics.

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