Saban, Smith Win National Recognition
Alabama All-America left tackle Andre Smith is the 63rd recipient of the Outland Trophy, presented annually to college football's best offensive lineman or linebacker. Smith received the award at the 2008 ESPNU Home Depot College Football Awards Show Thursday night in Orlando. Smith won the Outland over fellow finalists Duke Robinson (Oklahoma) and Michael Oher (Mississippi). Smith is the first Alabama winner since Chris Samuels earned the award in 1999.
"It is a special honor to win the Outland trophy," Smith said. "I want to give thanks to God, my family, my teammates and our coaching staff. I never could have realized this dream without all of these people."
The Tide junior was also named to the 2008 Walter Camp Foundation All-America Team Thursday night in Orlando. Smith has been named a first-team All-America by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Foundation. In addition, he was a unanimous first-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press, The Sporting News, SEC head coaches and Phil Steele.
"There are a lot more guys who get the reputation than actually live up to the billing," said Alabama Coach Nick Saban. "He started as a freshman and has improved every year. I don't see them all, and I'm not saying he is better than anybody else, but it's hard for me to think there is any other offensive lineman who has played any better than him this season."
Smith anchors a powerful and talented offensive line at Alabama, paving the way for 1,000-yard rusher Glen Coffee this season. Coffee is one of nine players in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and his 1,347 rushing yards are fourth in UA history. Overall, he has blocked for six 100-yard rushing performances this season. Smith yielded only one sack all season, allowing time for quarterback John Parker Wilson to post the fourth-best pass efficiency rating (123.81) in the SEC.
Smith was named Alabama's Offensive Player of the Year and captured the offensive line's Up-Front Award for his outstanding blocking this season. He has started 12 games this season, missing only the Tulane game with sprained left knee. Overall, he has played 38 games in his UA career.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban was named the 2008 Home Depot Coach of the Year Thursday night in Orlando. He led the Crimson Tide to a 12-1 record and the SEC Western Division championship.
Saban set the Alabama record for the largest win increase from year one to year two by an Alabama head coach. The Crimson Tide posted a 7-6 record in Saban's first year in 2007, and won 12 games this season, an increase of five wins. Saban was also named the 2008 SEC Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and SEC head coaches earlier this week.
"This should be the team of the year award," Saban said. "It starts with my family, Mal Moore (director of athletics) and our President Dr. Robert Witt, but most of all the coaches and our team, the people who made a commitment and worked hard and perservered a lot to have a successful season. I'd like to accept this on behalf of them."
Saban is also a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, which will be presented on ESPN at halftime of the Music City Bowl on December 31.