"The compassion and generosity that these young men displayed were instrumental in the rebuilding efforts of a community in dire need of physical as well as emotional help, and Disney Sports is proud to honor them for their contributions," said Disney Sports executive Faron Kelley. "The Crimson Tide and the University of Alabama have shown that sports can have a healing power far beyond the field or court."
Quarterbacks are naturally destined to collect big statistics and have high touchdown numbers. They touch the ball on every play. A running back has to work for his numbers, before and after contact. When that running back faces seven of the nation’s top 50 defenses, five of the top 50 rush defenses and five top-20 total defenses, and still ranks in the top 5 nationally in rushing, he deserves credit for such a high level of production. Alabama running back Trent Richardson led the Crimson Tide to an 11-1 record on his way to receiving an invitation to the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York, making him the second Alabama player in three years to rank among the Heisman finalists (Mark Ingram won in 2009).
"Your heart drops for real, then it jumps out of your chest," Richardson said of the feeling when his name was called. "You say all year, 'If I win, it doesn't really matter.' But once you get here, it's like, 'Yeah, I do wanna win.' " Richardson also was named to the prestigious Walter Camp All-America Team.
"When I'm watching Trent, it's awesome," said Smith, whose best showing in the Heisman voting was seventh in 1989, the year Houston's Andre Ware was the winner. "I am a BIG Trent Richardson fan. Every time Alabama is on TV, and I can get my eyes on the set, I'm watching to see how well he does. I'll tell you this, he's never disappointed me with his effort or his performance. And what I love best about him is he moves the pile. He runs with cruel intentions. I absolutely love that about the way he plays the game."
"As a child you dream of winning the Heisman or MVP at any level, and now that it's here and my team has worked hard for this, and I know I worked hard for it," Richardson said. "Just to represent for Alabama is going to be an honor for real, and to represent for (Florida hometown) Pensacola. It's pretty big for me. My name will be in the books if I do win."
With Alabama replacing a handful of offensive veterans, Richardson was the offense’s linchpin. There was no game-changing wide receiver. There was no proven quarterback. So, Richardson, who spent two previous seasons as a backup, was left to carry Alabama’s offense on his doublewide shoulders. Without Richardson, Alabama isn’t even in the conversation for the national championship. "He does everything for us," said quarterback AJ McCarron, who gave Richardson some bonus points by calling him a great role model.
The latest results from Stiffarmtrophy.com, which projects Heisman balloting by polling a limited number of Heisman voters, suggests the honor is a long shot for Richardson. Respondents to the website's most recent poll placed Griffin in a comfortable lead over Luck, with Richardson placing third. No matter. "If he gets it, it's OK, if he doesn't, that's OK, too," said Katrina, the player's mother. "I'm just glad he's made it to that level."
Jones, a 6-5, 311-pound junior from Memphis, Tenn., follows previous Outland Trophy winners from Alabama, offensive tackles Chris Samuels (1999) and Andre Smith (2008). In 2011, Jones was one of the most versatile and productive linemen in the game. He has started 10 games at left tackle, but has also played right tackle, center and left guard. The only interior offensive line position he did not play in 2011 for the Crimson was right guard. Before this season, he had started 25 games at the position during the 2009 and ’10 seasons. "It was kind of fun, it was definitely a challenge," Jones said. "I watched a lot of film. Playing all those positions gave me a greater understanding of the schemes and concepts of the entire offensive line. It helped me understand the big picture better."
The Alabama football team was heavily represented on the Walter Camp All-America Teams, which was announced Thursday. The Crimson Tide had four players earn first team honors while an additional two garnered second team accolades. The six selections were the most of any program. On the first team offense was junior running back Trent Richardson and junior offensive lineman Barrett Jones. On the defensive side was junior linebacker Dont'a Hightower and senior safety Mark Barron. Senior center William Vlachos and senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw earned second team honors.
The AJC Super 11 linebacker from Buford High School is the younger brother of UGA offensive lineman Dallas Lee. The younger Lee has gone with his parents (both longtime UGA fans) to just about every Bulldogs game this season to see his brother play, even after Dallas broke his leg in October. While at the games, Dillon has had the chance to build a relationship with UGA’s coaches, including Mark Richt. For the record, Dillon says he’s committed to Alabama.
"They made an ‘unofficial’ scholarship offer," Hughes told the AJC. "They’ve want to sign three cornerbacks this year, and he’s one of those three. Alabama said that they know his focus is on the state championship game. They told him to think about things, and after the playoffs are over, they would continue to pursue him if he’s interested."
Like 2010, Florida's offense was a disaster. Even with a great offensive mind like Weis, the Gators finished the year with the eighth-ranked offense in the SEC and scored just 25 points a game. Under a coach who helped repair Brady Quinn's college career, the Gators tossed just 12 touchdown passes. And after having the top rushing offense through the first four weeks of the season, the heart of the SEC crushed Florida's ground game, as it finished the season ranked eighth in the league. In Florida's six losses, the Gators averaged just 11 points a game and failed to consistently move the ball for four quarters in each. Plain and simple, you would have never guessed that Weis was in charge of Florida's offense by watching the Gators live. Lots of fingers will be pointed at Weis, but there is plenty of blame to go around.
Charlie Weis' first try at being a college head coach ended in disaster, the longtime NFL assistant unable to live up to the lofty expectations at Notre Dame. He'll get another chance at a program with much more modest aspirations. Weis accepted an offer to coach Kansas on Thursday, and will set about rebuilding a program that won the Orange Bowl just a few years ago but floundered under Turner Gill.
Every February, the NFL descends on Indianapolis for the Scouting Combine. In 2012, the NFL will supplement that effort with a series of eight Regional Combines. "The NFL Regional Combines program provides players – who may not have had the chance before – the opportunity to work out for NFL personnel executives," NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson said in a statement released by the league. "It allows all 32 clubs a chance to further evaluate future prospects."