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November 8, 2010

Notebook: McElroy named finalist for two national awards

TUSCALOOSA _ It was a day of good news for University of Alabama senior quarterback Greg McElroy, but not so much for his teammates.

Monday he was named a finalist for both the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Wureffel Trophy. The Golden Arm is presented annually to the nation's top senior quarterback, while the Wuerffel goes to the college football player who best combines exemplary community service with outstanding academic and athletic achievement.

Last week McElroy was also nominated by writer Lars Anderson for Sports Illustrated's prestigious Sportsman of the Year award, with the winner announced Nov. 30.

"That was pretty cool, I must say," McElroy said. "It was something that totally blindsided me, I wasn't expecting it whatsoever.

"Obviously I've heard of Sportsman of the Year, I probably have every one of those issues dating back to 1988 when I was born. It's remarkable when you look at people who had won in the past, and nominated in the past, it's just a tremendous honor to be mentioned with the same breath."

The other nine finalists for the Golden Arm are Andy Dalton of TCU, Pat Devlin of Delaware, Nathan Enderle of Idaho, Colin Kaepernick of Nevada, Jake Locker of Washington, Christian Ponder of Florida State, Ricky Stanzi of Iowa, Tyrod Taylor of Virginia Tech and Scott Tolzien of Wisconsin.

The other finalists for the Wuerffel are Ponder, Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell, Memphis lineman Dominik Riley, Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins, Notre Dame lineman Chris Stewart, Penn State lineman Steve Wisniewski, Purdue tight end Kyle Adams, Texas defensive end Sam Acho and Washington State safety Chimaobim Nwachukwu.

Meanwhile, Alabama players fell out of the running for the Maxwell (outstanding player) and Bednarik (defensive player) awards, with no one on the Crimson Tide among the semifinalists, nor was Nick Saban named a semifinalist for the Joe Paterno coach of the year award.

Here's the awards rundown:
Fred Biletnikoff Award (wide receiver): Julio Jones named to watch list. Semifinalists named Nov. 15
Butkus Award (linebacker): Dont'a Hightower named semifinalist. Finalists announced Nov. 23. Nico Johnson was on watch list. (Rolando McClain reigning winner).
Walter Camp Award (Player of the year): Mark Ingram named to watch list. Semifinalists announced Nov. 16.
William Campbell Trophy (scholar-athlete, formerly known as the Draddy Trophy): Greg McElroy finalist. Winner announced Dec. 7.
Heisman Trophy: Finalists announced Dec. 6 (Mark Ingram reigning winner).
Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end): Marcell Dareus was named to the watch list. Midseason list to be announced in November.
Lott Trophy (defensive impact player): Mark Barron named quarterfinalist. Semifinalists named Nov. 11.
Manning Award (quarterback, includes bowls): Greg McElroy on watch list. Finalists named Nov. 29.
Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player): Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower and Robert Lester on watch list. Finalists announced Nov. 18.
Outland Trophy (interior lineman): James Carpenter and Barrett Jones on watch list. Finalists announced Nov. 22.
Paul Hornung Award (most versatile): Trent Richardson on watch list. Finalists announced in early December.
Rimington Trophy (center): William Vlachos on watch list. Finalists announced Dec. 6.
Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back): Mark Barron on watch list. Finalists announced Nov. 22.
Unitas Golden Arm (senior quarterback): Greg McElroy named finalist. Winner announced in December.
Doak Walker Award (running back): Mark Ingram named to watch list. Semifinalists announced Nov. 11.
Burlsworth Trophy (walk-on): Nominees announced Nov. 17.
Wuerffel Trophy (community service with outstanding achievement): Greg McElroy finalist. Winner announced Dec. 7.

No one from Alabama being considered
Maxwell Award (outstanding player): Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Greg McElroy were all on the watch list.
Bednarik Award (defensive player): Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus and Dont'a Hightower were all on the watch list.
Davey O'Brien Award (quarterback): Greg McElroy was on watch list.
Rotary Lombardi Award (lineman): James Carpenter, Marcell Dareus and Dont'a Hightower were all on the watch list.
John Mackey Award (tight end).
Lou Groza Award (kicker).
Ray Guy Award (punter).

Injury/practice report

Sophomore running back Trent Richardson didn't appear to be doing much during Monday's practice and was wearing a protective sleeve/brace on his left knee. He along with defensive lineman Kerry Murphy (sore knee) and junior linebacker Chris Jordan (undisclosed) are considered day-to-day.

Richardson had a sore knee heading into the LSU game, and cornerback Patrick Peterson aggravated it when he landed on his leg while making the tackle on the 1-yard touchdown reception.

Murphy appeared to be going through individual injuries but Jordan was wearing a black jersey signaling no contact.

Meanwhile, redshirt freshman D.J. Fluker (groin) was still working behind A.J. McCullough at right tackle, but junior defensive back DeQuan Menzie (groin) was back at star in the nickel package.

"He could have played," Saban said about Menzie. "He was healthy, he warmed up. He practiced all week and we'll probably play him a little bit more in this game. In fact, he may end up starting in this game, but he was capable of playing in this last game, so he has no physical problems."

McElroy practiced in his usual sport after taking a helmet to his right knee on the sack and fumble against LSU.

"I'm ok, just some bumps and bruises," McElroy said. "It could have been a lot worse, I was pretty fortunate that my knee just happened to go straight back instead of in."

Players of the week

Count junior center William Vlachos among those impressed with LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis, who was the SEC defensive lineman of the week and figures to complete with Ole Miss' Jerrell Powe and Auburn's Nick Fairley for all-conference honors.

"He's really good," Vlachos said about Nevis. "He plays with power and a lot of quickness. Powe is more of a penetrator."

Nevis had seven tackles, including the sack and forced fumble when he got through Vlachos and to McElroy before the quarterback saw him.

"Something that we've seen a lot this year playing on the road is a lot of shifting very late," Vlachos said. "It's a challenge when I have my head down, especially in Baton Rouge with the crowd noise you can't really make a late check. There were times they would shift and I would have to leave the previous protection calls because we couldn't relay it everyone. I was just in a tough spot Saturday, but my coaches expect me to block whomever and whatever they put in front of me. Certainly I'm not making any excuses about that. I have to do better."

LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, who had seven tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery, was named the SEC's defensive player of the week.

Meanwhile, junior wide receiver Julio Jones was named Alabama's offensive player of the week by the coaching staff, with junior nose tackle Josh Chapman and sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower sharing the defensive honor and junior Marquis Maze and freshman John Fulton the special-teams award. Junior running back Mark Ingram was an honorable mention for SEC offensive player of the week.

Tide on ESPN2

Although Saturday's kickoff time was already announced ESPN finalized its schedule by opting to show South Carolina at Florida, which will decide the SEC East on ESPN, pushing Mississippi State's visit to Bryant-Denny Stadium to ESPN2.

Ole Miss at Tennessee, 11 a.m., CBS
Vanderbilt at Kentucky, 11:21 a.m., SEC Network
Georgia at Auburn, 2:30 p.m., CBS
UTEP at Arkansas, 6 p.m., ESPNU
Louisiana-Monroe at LSU, 6 p.m., pay-per-view
South Carolina at Florida, 6:15 p.m., ESPN
Mississippi State at Alabama, 6:15 p.m., ESPN2

As for next week's slate of games, here's the schedule:

Thursday, Nov. 18
Georgia State at Alabama, 6:30 p.m., ESPNU

Saturday, Nov. 20
Troy at South Carolina, 11:21 a.m., SEC Network
Appalachian State at Florida, 11:30 a.m., Pay-per-view
Ole Miss at LSU, 2:30 p.m., CBS
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 6 p.m., ESPN
Tennessee at Vanderbilt, 6:30 p.m., CSS

Tide-bits

Junior defensive end Marcell Dareus is dedicating the rest of this season to the memory of his close friend Nick Bell, the Mississippi State defensive end who died last week. "Of course they're going to dedicate the game to Nick," he said. "I'm going to dedicate the game to Nick. I'm dedicating the rest of the season to Nick. I'm just going to try and do the best I can, I know they're going to do the best they can. You just have to be ready for whatever they have."

During Saturday's game Ingram took the team lead in rushing with 641 yards, ahead of Richardson's 634. With two fewer games, though, he averages 91.6 yards compared to 70.4.

McElroy reflected on living with tight end Preston Dial and offensive lineman David Ross as a freshman, and compared Dial to the character D-Day from "Animal House." "I probably wasted more energy in the room getting in fights than on the practice field that year," he said. "I used to make strawberry lemonade and Preston took the canister and broke it over his head one day, just because he said he could. Just stupid things like that." McElroy also called his tight end "probably the most improved player on the team."


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