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Alabama Football: Who Will Be in the Running for 2012 Awards?

Jimmy McMurreyAnalyst IIMarch 1, 2012

Alabama Football: Who Will Be in the Running for 2012 Awards?

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    The award watch lists have not been compiled yet, but there are several Alabama players that are expected to make waves in 2012. It's waves that bring home the hardware, so who will make the most waves?

    The only trophy that truly matters in college football is the crystal football at the end of the season, but fans love to see their players get recognized for their accomplishments on the field.  

    For the upcoming 2012 season, the Crimson Tide has more than a handful of players ready to make a run at another championship title, and in their journey, they just may include having some trophies dropped in their laps.

Nico Johnson

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    Possible Awards

    • Bronko Nagurski Trophy: Nation's most outstanding defensive player
    • Lombardi Award: College lineman of the year
    • Butkus Award: Nation’s most outstanding linebacker

    Nico Johnson will enter the season as possibly the most important player on the defense. He is expected to take over as Alabama's field general linebacker. 

    In a year where the defense is reloading, Johnson will get a lot more opportunities to make tackles and be all over the field as there won't be as many three-and-outs.  

    The Nagurski and Lombardi may be a bit of a stretch for Johnson, while the Butkus is a very real possibility. 

    Boston College's Luke Kuechly ran away with all three awards last year with his ridiculous 191 tackles.

    Johnson won't rack up that many, but if he puts up 100-plus tackles (as he should), he could be hoisting one or more of these tropies.  

    As a player that split time heavily, Johnson racked up 46 total tackles last year. In 2012, he will be on the field as much as possible as a senior who has spent a lot of time on the field since 2009.

Barrett Jones

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    Possible Awards

    • Walter Camp Award: Nation’s most outstanding player
    • William V. Campbell Trophy: Nation’s top collegiate scholar-athlete
    • Lombardi Award: College lineman of the year
    • Outland Trophy: Nation’s most outstanding interior lineman
    • Rimington Trophy: Nation’s most outstanding center

    Barrett Jones will enter the season as the media's heartthrob. His character, grades and play on the field are all immaculate. 

    The Walter Camp and Lombardi awards could be long-shot awards for Jones, as they typically go to guys with numbers on paper.  

    He'll likely be the favorite to win the Outland Trophy—again—but he could quite possibly be on the watch list for many others. 

    The Rimington Trophy could possibly be hoisted by Jones if he moves to center.  

    The W.V. Campbell Trophy would be an easy item for Jones to pick up if he maintains his 4.0 GPA.

Eddie Lacy

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    Possible Awards

    • Maxwell Award: College player of the year
    • Doak Walker Award: Nation’s most outstanding running back
    • Heisman Memorial Trophy Nation’s most outstanding player

    Alabama will have another running back in the mix for these three awards. Get used to it, it's not changing as long as Nick Saban is around

    The Heisman and the Maxwell could be difficult for Lacy to bring home, but he will be on the radar.

    Lacy is expected to easily put up a 1,300 -yard season, but if he exceeds expectations and closes in on 1,600 yards and close to 20 touchdowns, he'll be greatly considered for all three awards.

    If Lacy runs all over opponents but falls short of winning the Heisman, he could certainly win the Doak Walker, just as Trent Richardson did in 2011. 

Robert Lester

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    Possible Awards

    • Bednarik Award: College defensive player of the year
    • Jim Thorpe Award: Nation’s most outstanding defensive back

    The only thing Robert Lester needs to do to bring home some hardware is exactly what he did in 2010. 

    Lester needs to play like he has in the past, and if he racks up a mountain of tackles and picks off the quarterback eight or nine times, he'll be a solid candidate to win something. 

    Big plays, especially the momentum-changing ones, get players recognized. 

    Lester has always been in the shadow of Mark Barron, even when he was out-playing him. Barron won't be around in 2012, and it will all be up to Robert Lester. 

    If he steps up to the plate, as expected, he'll be one of the best candidates for the Jim Thorpe. 

A.J. McCarron

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    Possible Awards

    • Heisman Memorial Trophy: Nation’s most outstanding player
    • Maxwell Award: College player of the year
    • Davey O’Brien Award: Nation’s best quarterback
    • Johny Unitas Award: Nation’s top college quarterback

    I am going all in with A.J. McCarron. I'm completely sold on him. I never doubted he would become the starter, but after the Penn State game (who actually had a pretty stout defense), I knew McCarron would do some great things.

    With an incredibly promising army of top-notch receivers, a deadly running back and an offensive line for the ages, McCarron has all the tools he needs to shred defenses.

    I fully expect him to do so in 2012 and come home with at least one of these awards.

    Critics of the SEC don't think a SEC quarterback can win a Heisman again. We'll see.  

DeMarcus Milliner

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    Possible Awards

    • Bednarik Award: College defensive player of the year
    • Jim Thorpe Award: Nation’s most outstanding defensive back

    Like Lester, Milliner could be a prime candidate for these two awards.

    He will enter the season as the Tide's most experienced cornerback, and he should be completely prepared to create his own island for opposing receivers to get stranded on. 

    He led the Tide in 2011 with three interceptions, one of which was a pick-six.  

    He will be somewhat of a dark-horse candidate, but if he embarrasses a few receivers and quarterback Denard Robinson when the Tide faces Michigan, he'll be the talk of the town.  

Kevin Norwood

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    Possible Awards

    • Biletnikoff Award: Nation’s most outstanding receiver

    If you aren't on the Kevin Norwood boat, then you better get in gear!

    His four catches for 78 yards (19.5 average) against LSU in the title game was one of the most impressive performances by a receiver against LSU all year.  

    With the advent of A.J. McCarron, Norwood is in a great position to stretch the field, move the chains and light up the scoreboard.  

    If Alabama breaks recent tradition and throws, throws and throws some more, Norwood will be hauling in a lot of passes.

    I don't see a 1,600-yard year for him, but 1,200? Maybe.

    The Kevin Norwood Boat is not going to set sail for fail. 

Michael Williams

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    Possible Awards

    • John Mackey Award: Nation’s most outstanding tight end

    Like Norwood, Michael Williams is about to become the beneficiary of a possible increase in the Tide's passing attack.  

    A.J. McCarron can make throws that his predecessors Greg McElroy and John Parker Wilson could not, and McCarron and the coaches surely see the potential in Williams.

    With an increased emphasis on finishing in the red zone, Williams is going to play a much larger role when it comes down to touchdowns versus field goals. 

    At 6'6", 270 lbs., Williams is a somewhat of a slow target, but he's very tough to match up with when the ball goes high.

    He can go toe-to-toe with any linebacker, and cornerbacks and safeties will have a lot of difficulty with such a large guy. 

    The "interception" on Nov. 5, 2011 is in the past, and Williams is looking to the future.

    Does that future hold the John Mackey Award?

Jesse Williams

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    Possible Awards

    • Lombardi Award: College lineman of the year
    • Bronko Nagurski Trophy: Nation’s most outstanding defensive player
    • Outland Trophy: Nation’s most outstanding interior lineman

    Jesse Williams played a quiet role in 2011 with Alabama's linebackers going into beast-mode, but he's going to make some noise in 2012. 

    A likely move to nose tackle will force Williams to really step up while the young defense grows.

    He is one of the meanest and strongest defensive linemen in the country and has the motor to take on double-teams for a full 60 minutes. 

    All the awards are long shots for Williams, as the folks that decide the outcome love the numbers game. Williams won't be racking up 50 tackles and 20 sacks, but he will be the anchor of the Alabama defense.

    A 3-4 system like Alabama runs lives and dies with their nose guard, and with Jesse Williams playing that position, the Tide defense is going to look immortal. 

Kirby Smart

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    Possible Awards

    • Broyles Award: Nation’s most outstanding assistant coach

    Alabama's defensive coordinator is quickly becoming one of the most coveted staff members in all of collegiate football, and for good reason.

    Since he arrived at the Capstone, the Alabama defense has been one of the best in the country every year. He is a defensive genius, and his two national title rings say all that needs to be said.

    If he takes Alabama's young defense to another BCS bowl or title game, I don't know how he cannot be selected for the Broyles Award.

    He's a former Georgia Bulldog, but we'll forgive him for that. 

Nick Saban

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    Possible Awards

    • Eddie Robinson Award: National coach of the year

    Nick Saban doesn't win this award nearly as often as he should, but if he did, the rest of the college football world would have a conniption.  

    Regardless, he'll be a strong candidate for it in 2012 as he is every year. 

    He's too intimidating to not be. 

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