Bama's offensive All Stars

As Head Coach Dennis Franchione aptly pointed out this week, football is the ultimate team game. But 11th-ranked Alabama has been helped to its current 7-2 record by some outstanding individual performances. <br><br>With the end of the year now in sight, numerous Tide athletes deserve consideration for individual post-season honors.

Averaging 407.3 yards per game, the Tide leads the SEC in offensive output, though interestingly not a single Bama athlete is listed among the league's Top 10 in either passing, receiving or rushing yards.

Shaud Williams

However, "Mr. Versatility" Shaud Williams, is ranked fifth in the league for all-purpose yards. Williams (5-8, 189, TR, Jr., Andrews, TX) has a team-leading 538 yards rushing on 78 carries to average 6.9 yards per carry. He also has 11 receptions for 162 yards; 33 punt returns for 269 yards and 5 kickoff returns for 91 yards. Shaud posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing games against USM (135) and Arkansas (119). He had 5 punt returns for 59 yards against Ole Miss. Shaud Accounts for 117.8 all-purpose yards per game.

Last season the Tide led the SEC rushing the football. In 2002 the Tide quarterbacks have improved, averaging 194.4 yards per game. But Bama's 212.9 yards per game on the ground is still second in the conference, just behind decidedly one-dimensional Arkansas.

Those numbers don't happen by accident, and the Tide's entire offensive line is being touted for individual honors.

Wesley Britt

Offensive tackle Wesley Britt (6-8, 312, 1VL, So., Cullman, AL) was a freshman All-America and first-team Freshman All-SEC selection in 2001, Britt has now started 21 consecutive games. He has played 666 snaps this season, given up only one sack and has 134 knockdown blocks. He has graded 98 percent or better in 7 of the Tide's 9 games this season. He's been one of the mainstay blockers in helping the Tide to the SEC's second-best and the NCAA's 21st ranked rushing attack (212.9 yards per game).

Britt's Career Totals: 21 consecutive starts; 245 knockdown blocks, 1,302 snaps

Senior center Alonzo Ephraim (6-4, 312, 2VL, Sr., Birmingham, AL) was a first-team All-SEC pick last season, Alonzo was a preseason All-SEC choice in 2002. He now has 21 career starts and has 615 snaps this season. He has 125 knockdowns and has not allowed a sack all season. It has been Ephraim's calls at the pivot that has paved the way for the league's second-best rushing attack (212.9 yards per game). He has 243 career knockdowns, including a career-high 20 in the Ole Miss game.

Ephraim's Career Totals: 21 consecutive starts; 243 knockdown blocks, 1,538 snaps

Evan Mathis

Strong tackle Evan Mathis (6-5, 298, 1VL, So., Homewood, AL) has started 18 consecutive games and in 634 snaps this season, has allowed just one sack. He has registered 103 knockdown blocks and has graded 97 percent or better in 8 of the Tide's 9 games. He owns the Tide's offensive line record of 33 inches in the vertical jump.

Mathis' Career Totals: 18 consecutive starts; 2217 knockdown blocks; 1,096 snaps

Marico Portis

Strong guard Marico Portis (6-3, 312, 2VL, Sr., Prichard, AL) has 646 snaps on the season and 118 knockdown blocks to his credit. He has started every game and now has 21 career starts. He is part of an offensive line that paves the way for the SEC's No. 2 rushing team which is averaging 212.9 yards per game. He has graded 99 percent or better in 8 of the Tide's 9 games in 2002. He has had double-digit knockdowns in all but one game this season, including a career-high 17 against Southern Miss. Marico set the offensive line record in the bench press with a lift of 500 pounds.

Portis' Career Totals: 21 starts; 228 knockdown blocks; 1,508 snaps

Justin Smiley

Quick guard Justin Smiley (6-4, 296, 1VL, So., Ellabell, GA) was a first-team Freshman All-America and was a consensus Freshman All-SEC pick last season. He was a pre-season All-SEC pick in 2002. Smiley has started 21 consecutive games and has played 1,311 career snaps. In 2002 he has 610 snaps and 117 knockdowns. He set the weight room record for offensive linemen with lift of 420 in the hang and clean and had a 32.5 inch vertical jump.

Smiley's Career Totals: 21 consecutive starts; 1,311 plays; 250 knockdowns

Brodie Croyle

Because he has played mostly in relief of Tide starter Tyler Watts, redshirt freshman Brodie Croyle's total stats aren't as impressive as some. But there's no question the rifle-armed quarterback deserves consideration for SEC and even national freshman honors.

In limited action Croyle (6-2, 198, Fr., Rainbow City, AL) already has career starts vs. Arkansas and Georgia and has hit 51 of 102 passes for 942 yards and 5 TDs. He has also rushed 34 times for 3 TDs. With 59 yards passing the remainder of the season, he will become only the 2nd Alabama freshman to pass for 1,000 yards in a season. Against Arkansas, Croyle hit 12 of 24 for 285 yards and 2 TDs in a crucial Tide road win.

Larry White, Alabama's Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations, made a huge contribution to his report.


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