TUSCALOOSA _ Even though he’s never played left tackle before in a live University of Alabama football setting, junior guard Barrett Jones won the Dwight Stephenson Lineman of the A-Day Game Award on Saturday.
Jones, who had two practices at left tackle this week, has played in 25 games, all at right guard. Instead, coaches had junior-college transfer Aaron Douglas with the second unit next to Alfred McCullough at left guard.
“It’s been a big challenge,” Jones said. “I really felt like I had to get back to the basics.”
The other award voted by media was the Dixie Howell Memorial Most Valuable Player of A-Day Game Award, which went to Trent Richardson. He had 167 all-purpose yards and led the team in both receiving (seven receptions for 85 yards and one touchdown) and rushing (49 yards on nine carries).
The coaching staff handed out the following spring awards:
Lee Roy Jordan Headhunter Award – Josh Chapman, Dont’a Hightower
Jerry Duncan “I Like to Practice” Award – Brad Smelley, Damion Square, Brandon Gibson
Billy Neighbors Defensive Lineman Award – Ed Stinson
Paul Crane Offensive Lineman Award – William Vlachos
Bobby Johns Defensive Back Award – Dequan Menzie
Johnny Musso Offensive Back Award – Eddie Lacy
Ray Perkins Receiver Award – Darius Hanks, Marquise Maze
Woodrow Lowe Linebacker Award – CJ Mosley
Derrick Thomas Community Service Award – Nico Johnson, Tana Patrick
Bear Bryant Outstanding Non-Scholarship Award – Hardie Buck, Will Lowery
Ozzie Newsome Most Improved Freshman Award – Adrian Hubbard, Jarrick Williams, Deandrew White, Phillip Sims
Bart Starr Most Improved Player Award – AJ McCarron, Anthony Steen, Jerrell Harris, Dre Kirkpatrick
Mal Moore Leadership Award – Barrett Jones, Mark Barron
Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award – Trent Richardson, Courtney Upshaw
A-Day attendance record
Although Bryant-Denny Stadium wasn’t filled to capacity (101,821), the Crimson Tide did set an A-Day attendance record with 92,310.
The previous record was 92,138 when fans packed the stadium for Saban’s first A-Day, before the South End Zone expansion was completed.
Alabama has attracted 91,000 for A-Day during three of the past five seasons. The national record for attendance at a spring football game was set by Ohio State in 2009 when 95,722 attended the Buckeyes’ spring game.
Senior wide receiver Marquis Maze appeared to have the only injury of significance on an incompletion near the end of the third quarter.
“He got dinged a little bit, hit his head on the ground,” Coach Nick Saban said. “He’s fine.”
Sophomore right tackle D.J. Fluker (ankle/foot) only played about half the game with the Crimson Tide. After starting he was replaced by redshirt freshman Arie Kouandijo, but returned in the fourth quarter.
“We feel really fortunate about the fact that Alex Watkins was the only real severe injury that we had (this spring), and we feel comfortable and confident that with the progress he’s making we should get him back in the fall,” Saban said. “To make the kind of progress that we did, with the kind of hitting that we did, we feel good about the fact that we didn’t have a lot of injuries.”
Watkins sustained a knee injury roughly three weeks ago. Saban said some players will have “minor” surgeries in the next week or so.
Saban on his statue: “That statue represents a lot of people. It represents all the people on the team. I definitely wanted everyone’s name that was on the team and contributed to that – whether it’s players, coaches or administration, our fans and everyone who contributed to that – to be a part of it. It’s an honor, but it’s also something that is just representative of a lot of people in terms of what they’ve done. I think all those other statues out there set the standard for what we want to try to accomplish here. It feels good to have accomplished that, but certainly it’s something we want to work towards individually in the future, that everybody works to be the best they can be and play to a high standard, team wise, and also how we rank nationally with everybody else and in terms of how we compete together as a team. I am proud of what the 2009 team accomplished. It was good to see all those guys come back and be a part of that and also the families of all the other coaches who had good fortune here to win a national championship and contribute to the tradition we have at The University of Alabama.”
Although Richardson had the most receptions, senior Brandon Gibson had the most catches by a wide receiver with five for 53 yards. “It was a great day to play,” Gibson said. “It was a beautiful day. We wanted to come out and do everything right. We wanted to try to compete well and get better every play. We came out at full speed. I know that when I give it 100 percent every play, everything else will fall into place.”
Sophomore linebacker C.J. Mosley led the White team with nine tackles while senior linebacker Chris Jordan and walk-on cornerback Ranzell Watkins each had nine for the Crimson team. DeQuan Menzie and Jarrick Williams each had an interception. Both teams were credited with four sacks, with Brandon Lewis leading with two, and combined for 15 tackles for a loss. Senior cornerback Phelon Jones broke up the most passes with four.
Although Andrew Zow showed that he can still zing the ball, Greg McElroy and Kenny Stabler won the halftime Quarterback Challenge.