Five Tiders named to pre-season squads

The voting of the press attending the Southeastern Conference Media Days in Hoover (suburban Birmingham) should not come as a great surprise. For one thing, only 70 of over 800 in attendance bother to vote on a pre-season All-SEC team and order of finish.

Alabama had five players named to the 2008 Southeastern Conference Media Days preseason All-SEC Team, the league office announced Friday morning as the three-day event concludes at the Wynfrey Hotel.

Junior offensive tackle Andre Smith and senior defensive back Rashad Johnson were first-team preseason picks by the SEC Media, while senior center Antoine Caldwell, sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain and junior return specialist Javier Arenas were all second team picks. All five players were named to the 2008 Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team earlier this week.

Any surprise there? No. Unless you look at the voting and see that six of the 70 voters didn't see fit to include Andre Smith on their first team ballots. It isn't like they were voting for the best left tackle (which almost everyone would concede Smith to be). They were voting for four generic offensive linemen and didn't see fit to write down Andre Smith.

Smith has been named a pre-season All-America. He was All-SEC last year as a sophomore.

SEC coaches, who presumably know a little something about offensive line play, selected him as winner of the Jacobs Award, given to the best blocker in the league. He is on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, presented to the nation's top lineman.

And six people who call themselves reporters decided they knew better.

Indeed, there were no unanimous picks. Hello? Have you heard of Tim Tebow? The Heisman Trophy winner as a sophomore?

Johnson, a Nagurski Trophy and Jim Thorpe Award candidate, led the Tide a year ago with 94 tackles and six interceptions from his free safety position.

Caldwell, a three-year starter on the offensive line for the Tide and a 2006 All-SEC performer, has also been named to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy and Outland Trophy in 2008.

McClain is coming off of a freshman season where he was named to the SEC Coaches Freshman All-SEC Team while registering 75 tackles with five tackles for loss and two interceptions. Arenas was selected as a return specialist after finishing second in the SEC last season in punt returns with a 15.4 yard per return average.

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