Pre-Season Lists Include Tiders

It is pretty much a given that football season never ends in Alabama, even when the temperature is in the mid-90s as it is now. But that doesn't mean players aren't going through off-season drills. It doesn't mean that coaches aren't scheming and/or recruiting. And it certainly doesn't mean that football writers aren't writing.

And so along with the many publications that are previewing the 2010 college football season and predicting a top 25 or top ten or top one, there are also pre-season All-America teams and early watch lists for awards.

We already know that Alabama is the consensus favorite to be the national champion this year, primarily because Bama was national champion last year. But also because the Crimson Tide has Nick Saban as head coach. And because Alabama returns a number of top players, including Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.

Ingram isn't on either of the watch lists that were revealed this week. That's because one is for linemen and one is for defensive players. Ingram, an All-America tailback, doesn't qualify.

But five Alabama players did qualify for those lists, as revealed by the Football Writers Association of America.

Three Crimson Tide players represented Alabama on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Preseason Watch List, including safety Mark Barron, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus and linebacker Dont'a Hightower. Offensive linemen James Carpenter and Barrett Jones were selected to the Outland Trophy Preseason Watch List.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded each year to the nation's top defensive player by the FWAA and the Charlotte (N.C.) Touchdown Club. Additional players may be added throughout the season with five finalists being announced on November 18.

Barron started all 14 games for Alabama in 2009 and finished second on the team with 76 tackles while leading the Southeastern Conference with seven interceptions and ranking tied for second with 18 passes defended. Barron was a first-team All-SEC selection and a third-team Associated Press All-American.

Hightower suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee early in the 2009 season but returned to form this spring during practice. He was a 2008 Freshman All-American and has 80 career tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss and one sack.

Dareus has only started four career games for the Tide, but has proven to be a playmaker when he is on the field. He knocked Texas quarterback Colt McCoy out of the BCS National Championship Game with a first-quarter hit and then intercepted a pass at the end of the first half and returned it for a touchdown. He has 37 career stops with nine tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

The Outland Trophy goes to the best offensive or defensive linemen in the country. It is selected by the FWAA and has been presented annually since 1946, making it the third-oldest award in major college football. Players can be added to the watch list throughout the season with three finalists chosen in November and the winner being selected at the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show.

Both Carpenter and Jones started 14 games a season ago, and were two of three new starters on the Tide's offensive front. Carpenter was a second-team All-SEC selection while Jones was a second-team Academic All-American and a first-team Freshman All-American. The offensive line helped crank out 403 yards of total offense per game in 2009 and 215 yards rushing that ranked 12th nationally.

The Sporting News had six Alabama players on its pre-season All-America teams with Ingram the lone Crimson Tide player selected for its first team.

Julio Jones, Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower and Mark Barron were named to the second team and Barrett Jones received third-team recognition.

Ingram became Alabama's first Heisman Trophy winner after rushing for a school-record 1,658 yards and 20 total touchdowns in 2009. Julio Jones has combined for 101 receptions for 1,520 yards and eight scores during his first two seasons at The Capstone. Barrett Jones is one of three returning starters on the Crimson Tide's offensive line.

The defensive trio of Barron, Dareus, and Hightower anchor a defensive unit that must replace nine starters from a season ago when the Tide ranked second nationally in total defense, scoring defense, and rushing defense.

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