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Jones already a living legend

TUSCALOOSA _ When it comes to the biggest names in University of Alabama football history, the list of legends goes way beyond a mere handful.

Although Barrett Jones may not end up on the Mt. Rushmore of Alabama football, he's carving out an impressive legacy.

We’re talking about Paul W. "Bear" Bryant, Joe Namath, Lee Roy Jordan, Wallace Wade, Ozzie Newsome, Gene Stallings, Frank Thomas, Harry Gilmer, John Hannah, Don Hutson …

It’s not easy for even someone like Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram to elbow his way into that group, never mind all the other standout players from both the 2009 and 2011 national championship teams.

But what about offensive lineman Barrett Jones?

While he has another season to play, the guard-turned-tackle-turned-center has quietly put together the kind of resume that would make any coach more than proud.

“I can't say enough about what he's accomplished since he's been here and what he might be able to accomplish in the future,” Nick Saban said.

The thing about Crimson Tide lore, though, is that once someone starts being compared to the all-time greats it sticks with him forever.

“I’m not sure that Barrett will be with the likes of the best who ever played here, but he’ll certainly be in the ranks of the most versatile of those who played here,” longtime Alabama broadcaster Tom Roberts said. “He’s going to get out of here as one of the most smartest guys to ever be a part of the football program. The other thing about him is that he’s such a great kid who’s willing to help: Haiti after the earthquake, Tuscaloosa after the tornado.”

"The name that comes to mind for comparison is Fred Sington," said Ken Gaddy, director of the Paul W. Bryant Museum. "All-American and a star in the class room who went on to be a true civic leader.

This was the second time that Barrett Jones got to kiss a crystal football.

"It;s hard for offensive linemen to stand out in historical terms. They only get their name called when they are caught holding."

Here’s the kind of exclusive company Jones shares:

Heading into the fall of 2011, 98 Alabama players had been honored 114 times as All-Americans. Last season’s national champions had seven players picked for first-team honors from various organizations, with Jones, running back Trent Richardson and safety Mark Barron all unanimous selections, and linebacker Dont’a Hightower a consensus pick. The other three were cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie, and linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

Jones became the 19th Alabama player to win the Jacobs Awards as the Southeastern Conference’s best blocker, with Butch Avinger the only repeat winner (in 1949-50, when quarterbacks would frequently make leads blocks for running backs).

Even though the Outland Trophy for the nation’s best interior lineman has been handed out since 1946, Jones was just the third Crimson Tide winner, joining Andre Smith (2008) and Chris Samuels (1999). This season he could potentially join Dave Rimington, the Nebraska center for whom the best center award is named after, as the Outland’s only two-time winner (1981-82).

Jones also recently became the first Alabama player to win both the Wuerffel Trophy, which since 2005 goes to the player who best combines exemplary community service with academic and athletic achievement, and the ARA Sportsmanship Award -- fittingly presented to him at halftime of a basketball game that he almost certainly would have attended anyway as a fan.

“It would take five minutes to read all the accomplishments that Barrett has received as a football player,” Stallings said.

“I don’t know where Barrett gets all the energy.”

Jones is also on Alabama’s relatively short list of prominent Academic All-Americans, and its only player to be honored three times:

Crimson Tide Academic All-Americans
1961: Tommy Brooker, end; Pat Trammell, quarterback
1964: Gaylon McCullough, center
1965: Denis Homan, end; Steve Sloan, quarterback
1967: Bob Childs, linebacker; Steve Davis, kicker
1970: Johnny Musso, tailback
1971: Johnny Musso, tailback
1973: Randy Hall, defensive tackle
1974: Randy Hall, defensive tackle
1975: Danny Ridgeway, kicker
1979: Major Ogilvie, halfback
2002: Kenny King, defensive tackle
2009: Barrett Jones, guard; Colin Peek, tight end
2010: Barrett Jones, guard; Greg McElroy, quarterback
2011: Barrett Jones, tackle

“I think Barrett stands in with the best of them,” Roberts said about some of the Crimson Tide’s most beloved players, like Trammell, Musso and McCullough, who went on to create the McCollough Plastic Surgery Clinic in 1975 and was honored by the March of Dimes as "Alabama Citizen Of The Year" for 1994-95.

“He’s kind of special,” said Jim Heinz, Jones’ former coach at Evangelical Christian School in Memphis, Tenn. “I’d like to think he’s one of the best to play down there.”

He’s also one other thing that helps set him a little further apart from his contemporaries, a legacy. Jones’ father Rex played basketball for Wimp Sanderson, and should youngest sibling Walker accept his scholarship offer to follow Barrett and Harrison to the Capstone, Jones will be become a prominent Crimson Tide family name like Britt (Justin, Taylor and Wesley, 2001-07), Hannah (Charles, David and John, 1970-79), and Van de Graaff (Adrian, Bully and Hargrove, 1911-15).

“To me it’s just wonderful because of his heritage as an Alabama athlete’s son,” Roberts said. “One of my favorite things as is at (team doctor James) Robinson’s office there’s a huge picture of Antoine Pettway scoring the winning field goal against Florida to win to the SEC Championship, and over behind the Alabama bench you see young Barrett Jones jumping up and down, screaming. His dad had brought him to the ball game.”

This is part five of a five-part series that will appear on BOL this week.

The Barrett Jones Chronicles
Day 1, Charity/academics:
Day 2, Leadership:
Day 3, Athletic ability:
Day 4, NFL future:
Day 5, Legacy:

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