Tide Players Cited For First Half Job

If a man is named an all-star at two positions halfway through the season, is that as good as making one honor team at the end of the year? Hopefully there will be an opportunity to pose that question to Alabama cornerback and kick return specialist Javier Arenas at the end of 2008.



Alabama Coach Nick Saban has spent time this week reminding his Alabama football team that the job is only partway done. The Crimson Tide is 6-0 and ranked second in the nation, but there are six more regular season games and a post-season game or two before the task is complete.

Bama begins the second half of the season hosting Ole Miss at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday, a game that will be telecast by CBS.

Nevertheless, others are marking up midpoint achievements. On Tuesday it was announced that nine Alabama players were named to the Midseason All-Southeastern Conference team by sports analyst Phil Steele. The Crimson Tide had five offensive selections, four defensive selections and one special teams' honoree. Junior Javier Arenas was named as both a cornerback and kick return man.

Junior left tackle Andre Smith was the Tide's lone first-team All-SEC representative on offense. Smith has started five games for the Tide this season and anchors an offensive line that paves the way for the top rushing team in the league.

Junior running back Glen Coffee, freshman receiver Julio Jones and senior center Antoine Caldwell were second-team honorees, while left guard Mike Johnson was named to the third team. Coffee ranks second in the SEC with 118 yards per game this season.

Junior nose tackle Terrence Cody and sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain were named first-team All-SEC defensive players on Tuesday. Cody has 15 tackles and three tackles for loss for the SEC's top run-defense squad, while McClain leads UA with 44 tackles and has one touchdown this season.

Rashad Johnson, who leads UA with eight pass break-ups, was a second-team All-SEC pick.

Arenas was tabbed a third-team All-SEC selection as cornerback and kick returner. Arenas is third on the team with 25 tackles this season and has added three pass break-ups and a 63-yard interception return for a touchdown at Arkansas. He also leads UA with 25.8-yard kickoff return average and a 16.8-yard punt return average, including an 87-yard return for a touchdown against Tulane.

It was also announced Tuesday that Alabama senior quarterback John Parker Wilson was selected as one of 10 finalists for the 2008 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

The prestigious Golden Arm Award is presented annually to the nation's top senior quarterback by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation, Inc. and Transamerica.

"It is a tremendous honor to be a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award," Wilson said. "Johnny Unitas was one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game, and to have my name mentioned along with his is something special. But we are only halfway through the season and there is a lot left to accomplish. I just want to go out there and help my team win football games and everything else will take care of itself."

In addition to Wilson, finalists are: Tom Brandstater (Fresno State); Chase Clement (Rice); Chase Daniel (Missouri); Cullen Harper (Clemson); Graham Harrell (Texas Tech); Brian Johnson (Utah); Curtis Painter (Purdue); Pat White (West Virginia); Drew Willy (Buffalo).

Alabama has a rich tradition of signal callers and Wilson has eclipsed nearly all of their records. He is the Crimson Tide's season and career leader in completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns and attempts.

Six games into his senior season, Wilson has passed for 853 yards while completing 59.8 percent of his passes with six touchdowns. His 127.70 passing efficiency rating ranks fifth in the SEC and 50th nationally.

The 2008 winner will be presented with the Golden Arm Award at the Tremont Grand in Baltimore, Maryland, on December 5.

Boston College's Matt Ryan captured last year's Golden Arm Award before becoming the No. 1 overall draft pick of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and their starting quarterback. Alabama's Jay Barker captured the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 1994.

The namesake of the Golden Arm Award has a storied history, which earned him the recognition of being one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL. He had an 18-year career in the NFL that included 17 years with the Baltimore Colts and 40,239 passing yards with 290 touchdowns. He played his collegiate career at Louisville (1951-54) where he passed for 3,007 yards and 27 touchdowns.

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