Hall Big Winner Of Spring Awards

Alabama wide receiver D.J. Hall has already proved himself to be a very fine football player. He proved it again Saturday with five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown to earn the award as the game's most valuable player.

The media covering the Alabama spring football game selected D.J. Hall as winner of the Dixie Howell Award. It was the second consecutive year for the upcoming senior to win the Dixie Howell Award.

The selection by the media validated an earlier vote of the Crimson Tide coaching staff. Following the game it was revealed the Hall, who was second team All-Southeastern Conference and Bama's leading receiver in 2006, had been selected by the coaches as winner of the Ray Perkins Most Improved Receiver Award for his work in the spring.

It was the second time Hall had won the award. He was also the Perkins winner in 2005.

Beginning in the early 1970s, the Alabama coaching staff began selecting players for spring practice awards based on improvement. The awards were named for former great players. Over the years the list of spring awards has been expanded. This year there were several categories in which more than one player was selected.

In addition to Hall winning the Dixie Howell Award for the second consecutive year, the media also selected center Antoine Caldwell as winner of the Dwight Stephenson Award as the A-Day game's most valuable lineman. Caldwell won the award last year. And he also won the Paul Crane Most Improved Offensive Lineman Award in 2005, an award that went to Andre Smith this year.

Caldwell was also this spring's winner of the Mal Moore Leadership Award, sharing the honor with senior cornerback Simeon Castille.

"Winning the awards were special," Hall said. "I was surprised. You're lucky to get an award that so many great players have won. My goal was to go out and play as hard as I can. I thought I did a decent job, but there were a few other plays I should have made. I left a few out on the field."

Hall said the A-Day Game was "one of the better scrimmages we've had. I think we've progressed well. We ran the ball well, we protected well, and John Parker passed well." He said one of quarterback John Parker Wilson's strong points is the good touch on his passes.

As was everyone, Hall was overwhelmed by the size of the A-Day crowd of over 92,000. I came out of that tunnel and went "Wow!" he said. "It excited us to know the fans have faith in us. It felt more like a season-opening game than a spring game."

Hall said the Tide wants to be known as having an explosive offense. "I love our offense," he said. "There's so much we can do. We're not one-dimensional."

Hall said that new coach Nick Saban "puts it into perspective of what we need to do to get to the next level, to be a champion. We needed someone like him who has done it. We love him to death, even when he gets on you. If he didn't get on you, you'd think he didn't care about you."

Many years ago the coaching staff had a somewhat surprising selection for the Jerry Duncan I Like To Practice Award, giving it to a place-kicker. Many thought a place-kicker would like to practice, at least a lot more than someone in the trenches.

There was another surprise of sorts this year when Jimmy Johns was announced as the winner. That's because Johns missed a couple of practices for "academic reasons."

Saban had an explanation. "He practices good all the time," the coach said. "He didn't practice because he didn't go to class. I knew you all (media) would have a hard time figuring that one out. They're not related. If the guy practices good and doesn't go to class and I don't let him practice what's that have to do with practicing good? I knew that would get you. I knew it. It was like fishing, just reeling them in. Hook 'em."

Johns was last year's winner of the Ozzie Newsome Most Improved Freshman Award. That award went to redshirt freshman tailback Terry Grant and true freshman cornerback Kareem Jackson this spring.

Ezekial Knight, who was 2005 winner of the Ozzie Newsome award, was also a repeat winner this year as he was selected for the Lee Roy Jordan Headhunter Award.

Keith Saunders, winner of last year's I Like To Practice Award when he was a defensive end, has been billed as a linebacker, but he won the Billy Neighbors Defensive Lineman Award this spring.

Safety Rashad Johnson, a former winner of the Paul "Bear" Bryant Outstanding Non-Scholarship Player Award, was selected as this year's winner of the Bobby Johns Defensive Back Award. This year the Bryant Award went to linebacker Darren Mustin.

The Woodrow Lowe Linebacker Award went to Prince Hall.

The Johnny Musso Most Improved Offensive Back Award went to quarterback John Parker Wilson. Wilson had been winner of the 2005 Bart Starr Most Imrpoved Quarterback Award, which has been changed to the Bart Staff Most Imroved Player Award. This year that is shared by defensive tackle Brian Motley and offensive tackle Michael Johnson.

The Derrick Thomas Community Service Award is shared by fullback Baron Huber and defensive tackle Byron Walton and the Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award is shared by Bobby Greenwood and Travis McCall.

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