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My name is Eric. My love of and loyalty to the University of Alabama football team is unparalleled and completely inappropriate. I hate all other teams, and wish them peril. Also, you can hear my music at www.reverbnation.com/EricBlackerby or www.youtube.com/EricBlackerbyMusic

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Alabama Players On Watch Lists For Postseason Awards

The Lombardi Award  is presented annually by the Rotary Club in Houston, TX, to the nation's best college football lineman (offense or defense). This year's list includes two Alabama players: G Arie Kouandjio and DE/DT A'Shawn Robinson. In my opinion, A'Shawn has the best chance because he will be one of the most feared players in the nation at his position and should be a guy that gets 10 or 15 sacks and over 20 tackles for loss. I think he's the best in the SEC.

A'Shawn Robinson

Last year's winner: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh.

Past Alabama Winners: Cornelius Bennett, 1986.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

A.J. Cann, South Carolina , G
La'el Collins, LSU , OT
Reese Dismukes, Auburn, C 
Trey Flowers, Arkansas , DE
Leonard Floyd, Georgia, LB 
A.J. Johnson, Tennessee, LB
Chris Jones, Mississippi State, DT
Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State, LB 
Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss, DT 
Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M, OT 
Ramik Wilson, Georgia, LB

The Butkus Award is named after the greatest linebacker of all time, Dick Butkus, and is awarded to the best linebacker in the nation. LB is my favorite position on the field so I am always happy when Bama is represented here. This year's list includes two Bama players to watch out for:  Trey DePriest and Reggie Ragland. I can't help but think that Reuben Foster could make some noise, but that'll probably be in 2015. DePriest is expected to be the leader of Bama's front seven on defense, so he could have a huge year.

Reggie Ragland

Last year's winner: CJ Mosley, Alabama. 

Past Alabama Winners: Derrick Thomas, 1988; Rolando McClain, 2009; CJ Mosley, 2013

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Leonard Floyd, Georgia
Kris Frost, Auburn
Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
Braylon Mitchell, Arkansas
Ramik Wilson, Georgia

The Nagurski Award is given to the top defensive player in college football. The award is named after Bronko Nagurski, who played for Minnesota in college and for the Chicago Bears in the NFL. Alabama has never won this award, but this year we have three guys on the list: S Landon Collins, LB Trey DePriest, and DL A'Shawn Robinson. Again, A'Shawn is a beast. Expect big things from this man.

Trey DePriest

Last year's winner: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Alvin "Bud" Dupree, Kentucky, DE
Trey Flowers, Arkansas, DE
Leonard Floyd, Georgia, LB
Dante Fowler Jr., Florida, DE/LB
Markus Golden, Missouri, DE
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida, S
Jordan Jenkins, Georgia, LB
A.J. Johnson, Tennessee, LB
Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State, LB
Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss, DT
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss, S
Ramik Wilson, Georgia, LB
Gabe Wright, Auburn, DT

The Outland Trophy is named after John Outland, of the University of Kansas, who was named All American at two different positions in the very early days off football: offensive tackle and halfback. Can you imagine that these days? The award goes to the best interior lineman in college football(offensive or defensive). Alabama has three on this list: C Ryan Kelly, G Arie Kouandjio, and DL A'shawn Robinson. I don't have to tell you which one of these guys I am highest on. However, 8 out of the past 11 years the award has gone to an offensive guy and Kelly has the chance to be a Barrett Jones type of leader and player this year and all of our past winners were O-Lineman.

Arie Kouandjio


Last year's winner: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh.

Past Alabama Winners: Chris Samuels, 1999; Andre Smith, 2008; Barrett Jones, 2011

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Vadal Alexander, LSU, G
David Andrews, Georgia, C
Evan Boehm, Missouri, C
A.J. Cann, South Carolina, G
La'el Collins, LSU, OT
Reese Dismukes, Auburn, C
D.J. Humphries, Florida, OT
Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M, OT
Alex Kozan, Auburn, G
Mike Matthews, Texas A&M, C
Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss, DT
Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M, OT
Corey Robinson, South Carolina, OT
Brandon Shell, South Carolina, OT
Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss, OT
Gabe Wright, Auburn, DT

The Mackey Award is given to the best tight end in college football who best exemplifies the play, sportsmanship, academics, and community values of NFL Hall of Fame TE John Mackey. I think most people know who that is probably gonna be. OJ Howard was an under-utilized man among boys in his true freshman campaign last season. Lane Kiffin knows what he has in this guy and whenever he's not trying to get the ball to Amari Cooper, it will probably be going to OJ Howard. OJ can play across the middle like a traditional tight end, and can block like a lineman, but this guy could line up at wide receiver and be one of the elite guys in the country there as well. Barring injury or the Apocalypse, I'm gonna just go ahead and predict that OJ Howard will be the first Alabama TE to win this award. 

OJ Howard

Last year's winner: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Rory Anderson, South Carolina
Evan Engram, Ole Miss
Hunter Henry, Arkansas
Malcolm Johnson, Mississippi State
Jay Rome, Georgia
C.J. Uzomah, Auburn

The Rimington Trophy goes to the best center in College Football, and is named for Dave Rimington who played center at Nebraska from 1979-1982. Ryan Kelly represents Bama and should do well in 2014.

Ryan Kelly

Last year's winner: Bryan Stork, Florida State.

Past Alabama winners: Barrett Jones, 2012.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

David Andrews, Georgia
Evan Boehm, Missouri
Dillon Day, Mississippi State
Reese Dismukes, Auburn
Max Garcia, Florida
Mike Matthews, Texas A&M
Elliott Porter, LSU
Jon Toth, Kentucky
Joe Townsend, Vanderbilt
Cody Waldrop, South Carolina

The Bednarik Award is presented by the Maxwell Football Club to the best defensive player in college football and is named after Chuck Bednarik, who was one of the most devastating tacklers in the country for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949-1962.. Alabama is well represented here with three guys: Landon Collins, Trey DePriest, and A'Shawn Robinson


Last year's winner: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:
Alvin "Bud" Dupree, Kentucky, DE
Trey Flowers, Arkansas, DE
Leonard Floyd, Georgia, LB
Dante Fowler Jr., Florida, DE/LB
Markus Golden, Missouri, DE
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida, CB
Jordan Jenkins, Georgia, LB
A.J. Johnson, Tennessee, LB
Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State, LB
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss, S
Robenson Therezie, Auburn, S
Ramik Wilson, Georgia, LB

The Maxwell Award is named after Robert "Tiny" Maxwell,  a Swarthmore College player and coach, and is given annually to the best player in college football. Alabama had never had a player win this award until last year, when AJ McCarron took it home. He should've taken home the Heisman too, but that's another argument for another day. Four Alabama players are on the preseason list this year: QB Jacob Coker, WR Amari Cooper, RB TJ Yeldon, and RB Derrick Henry. I have no idea why Coker is on here, since he's yet to take a single snap as a starter or in an Alabama uniform at all, but I guess it's just a testament to the respect that everyone has for Nick Saban that most people expect the Alabama QB to be a major player for this type of attention. I think Derrick Henry is the best in the country, but his ultimate candidacy for this award will depend upon how many carries he gets, splitting time with TJ Yeldon and a couple of other guys. 

TJ Yeldon

Last year's winner: AJ McCarron, Alabama.

Past Alabama Winners: AJ McCarron, 2013

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Sammie Coates, Auburn, WR
Alex Collins, Arkansas, RB
Mike Davis, South Carolina, RB
Jeff Driskel, Florida, QB
Todd Gurley, Georgia, RB
Nick Marshall, Auburn, QB
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State, QB
Bo Wallace, Ole Miss, QB
Jonathan Williams, Arkansas, RB

The Thorpe Award is named after Jim Thorpe, and goes to the nation's top defensive back. Landon Collins has a chance to be the best safety in college football and will have a very good shot at winning this award.

Landon Collins

Last year's winner: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State.

Past Alabama Winners: Antonio Langham, 1993.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Vernon Hargreaves, Florida, CB
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss, S
Tre'Davious White, LSU, CB

The Biletnikoff Award is given to the nation's most outstanding receiver, and is name after Fred Biletnikoff from Florida State. Amari Cooper headlines any list of great receivers in college football right now and should have his best season yet, with Lane Kiffin on the sidelines.
Amari Cooper

Last year's winner: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Sammie Coates, Auburn
Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss

The Doak Walker Award goes to the best running back in college football every year, and Bama has a couple guys on this list. TJ Yeldon, and Derrick Henry. The SEC is well represented here, no thanks to Auburn, with 11 total backs. Roughly 1 in 5 RBs on the complete list are from the SEC, with none being from Auburn.

Derrick Henry

Last year's winner: Andre Williams, Boston College.

Past Alabama winners: Trent Richardson, 2011.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Tra Carson, Texas A&M
Alex Collins, Arkansas
Mike Davis, South Carolina
Todd Gurley, Georgia
Terrence McGee, LSU
Josh Robinson, Mississippi State
Kelvin Taylor, Florida
Jonathan Williams, Arkansas
Trey Williams, Texas A&M

The Walter Camp Award is awarded to the Player Of The Year in college football. Alabama places 3 on this list: Landon Collins, Amari Cooper, and TJ Yeldon. I think Henry could be on the list later on in the season, but that will depend on how many carries he takes from Yeldon of course.


Last year's winner: Jameis Winston, Florida State.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Mike Davis, South Carolina, RB
Todd Gurley, Georgia, RB
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida, CB
Nick Marshall, Auburn, QB
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss, S
Ramik Wilson, Georgia, LB

These are just preseason lists based on past performance and hype, so expect several of these players to fall off as the season goes on and many more players to be added by December. But Alabama is well represented with 10 total players on the preseason watch lists, and with a few of the young guys that should step up, added to the fact that we will be in the playoff, it's a safe bet that at least one of these awards will be heading to Tuscaloosa.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Alabama vs USC, 2016

On Sept 3, 2016, the Alabama Crimson Tide will face off against the University of Southern California in Arlington, Texas.

The last time Alabama played in AT&T Stadium, Bama chicken-kicked Michigan 41-14 to start the 2012 season and this would be another great start to a championship run like that one was.

Alabama was supposed to play Penn State in this game, but according to Nick Saban Penn St "Bailed out on us".

Of all the big time non-conference games in recent years, this might be the biggest and most anticipated one of all. I know I've been wanting to play USC for about 10 years. Back when we'd have had no business thinking we could win against them. Back when Auburn thought they could beat them. I've always wanted these guys. And now we are going to get them.

This will be the 8th time in history Alabama and USC will have met. This will be the first time Alabama and USC will have played each other, barring a playoff matchup, in 31 years. Bama beat USC 24-3 in the Aloha Bowl in 1985.

Alabama leads the series 5-2.

Alabama and USC split the national title in 1978, even though USC beat Alabama that year. You can still piss off some old Trojan fans by bringing that one up.

USC is 21-11-1 all time against the SEC. But that won't matter on this night.

Alabama and USC have combined for 26 national titles, 66 bowl wins, 272 first team All-Americans, 797 NFL draftees, 52 College Football Hall Of Fame players, and 7 Heisman Trophy winners.

John McKay. USC Head Coach from 1960-1975.
 Won 4 national titles.
Paul "Bear" Bryant

USC Fullback Sam Cunningham
In 1970, the two schools played in one of the most important games in history. USC won the game 42-21, thanks to a huge game from African American fullback Sam Cunningham, who is credited with having a lot to do with college football becoming integrated in the south. Cunningham ran for 135 yards and 2 TDs on only 12 carries and the Trojans outgained Alabama by 300 yards. Bear Bryant personally sought out Cunningham after the game to congratulate him. Bryant already had one black player on the freshman squad, and people say that Bryant would have already had more black players on the team if he had thought it was socially acceptable at the time. Whatever the case may be, getting embarrassed in this way changed the way Bryant and Alabama saw things and paved the way for future Hall Of Famers like Ozzie Newsome to come along over the next several years. This game helped to reinforce what had already started and won over a lot of the ignorant fools who were going to fight it because they wanted the Tide to win and the message was clear that to win you needed to have the best players, regardless of the color of their skin.

The Cowboys Classic. Bama and USC. This will be awesome.

Lane Kiffin on the Alabama sideline.

Nick Saban coming off back to back titles. OK, I'm not gonna get carried away there.

“We are excited to participate in a game that is such an attractive matchup for the nation’s fans. The 2016 Cowboys Classic not only brings together two of college football’s most tradition-laden and successful programs, but teams that in 1970 played a significant role in shaping the history of the game. At USC, we have always tried to schedule as many outstanding nonconference opponents as possible because we believe that should be part of the experience our players get when they come here. The Trojans versus the Crimson Tide in Arlington will certainly be such a game.”
                                                                               - USC Coach Steve Sarkisian

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

SEC Media Days: I'm Back

A lot has happened in the year since I was last able to write here. I won't bother with catching up on old times, since we all know the good and bad things that happened in 2013. I will just start from this week, my favorite week of the offseason.

SEC Media Days is kicking in Hoover right now. This event will always hold an especially fond place in my heart, for obvious reasons. For those who don't know, or remember, go HERE. And you can also read THIS excellent article by @JonSolomonCBS that will catch you up on the past craziness that has been SEC Media Days.

But they've already forgotten about me because of this guy:

Alabama Fan With $300 National Championship Ring Hat


The past couple weeks, we've had to deal with a couple of off the field incidents, as is always the case during the summer for most major college football programs. Speedy back up running back Kenyan Drake had yet another brush with the law, and while this most recent case was much ado about nothing, it remains to be seen how it will affect his playing time and position on the team. Whatever happens, it should go without saying that Nick Saban will make the best decisions and we should respect whatever he does as he clearly knows what he is doing.

Huge defensive lineman Jarran Reed was arrested for DUI after he crashed into a parked car in his 2011 Dodge Charger. The incoming JUCO transfer blew a .13 on the breathalyzer. Alot of fun was made of Auburn QB Nick Marshall after he was caught with marijuana in his car during a traffic stop in Georgia last week, but that has nothing on this. While Marshall's actions were idiotic considering the position he is in, he didn't put anyone else in danger other than himself, and that is of course debatable these days with the changing views on and more knowledge of marijuana. But what Reed did, without question, put himself and anyone else with him or around him in danger and I doubt we see him on the field for awhile this year. I have faith that Saban will punish him justly and that Reed will learn from this. As bad as it is, people do make mistakes, especially young people, and there is always room for forgiveness and this can be put in the past if Reed does whatever Saban has in mind for him from this point forward.

 "We are disappointed in Jarran's actions and this is obviously not the kind of behavior we expect from our players," he said. "It is a privilege to represent the University of Alabama and there are responsibilities that go along with that privilege. We'll evaluate the situation and determine the appropriate discipline so better choices and decisions can be made in the future." - Nick Saban.

RB Altee Tenpenny was cited for possession of marijuana back in April, and LB Dillon Lee was arrested for DUI also in April. These guys are all for sure in Saban's doghouse. Thankfully, we have plenty of depth and every single one of these guys, while very talented players, has at least a couple other guys who can take their spots without us noticing a difference.

"The time for leniency has ended. The use of “internal discipline” is no longer enough. Nick Saban needs to tighten the reins on his program, make an example of someone publicly, and send the message to every one of his players that the offseason has ended, the time for work is here and any instances of poor behavior will not be tolerated." - Alex Scarborough. You can read his full article on all this HERE


As of this writing, Alabama has picked up 3 big time commitments for the 2016 class. Nick Saban is ridiculous and it is obvious that the man never sleeps. While Steve Spurrier is making jokes and pressing the flesh with the media, this is what Nick is doing: Preparing for future national titles. It is exactly why he is the very best there is.

4 star DT Benito Jones, Wayne County HS, Waynesboro MS. 
6'0 280
Chose Bama over Ole Miss, Georgia, Florida State 
Those who have seen him in person say that his hand-quickness, strength, and ability will make him among the top 2 or 3 guys in the country at his position when he graduates.

5 star CB Shyheim Carter, Kentwood HS, Kentwood, LA
6'0 185
Chose Bama over Georgia, Clemson, Mississippi St
Carter is considered the No. 1 DB prospect in the country in his class. Physicality is where is excels, so he fits the mold of a Dre Kirkpatrick of the future.

5 star ATH Demetris Robertson, Savannah Country Day School, Savannah, GA
6'0 165
Chose Bama over Auburn, Clemson, Florida

Robertson could be an elite talent at corner, safety, or wide receiver and is considered the No. 1 athlete in the country for 2016.

All 3 of these guys should be in the overall Top 30 when those lists come out in the future. Robertson and Carter have already been invited to the US Army All American Game.

Keep in mind, these kids won't set foot on campus for 2 years, but this is how you build a program that competes year in and year out for the top spot in the land.

News, Notes, and Links 

Jacob Coker, Jeff Driskel Potential SEC Villians 
"He’s no McCarron. Let’s get that out of the way first. Unlike his predecessor, Coker is about as unassuming as a major talent can get. He started out as a humble three-star recruit, and his disposition has remained the same. But with the runaway hype machine that’s surrounded his landing at Alabama -- not to mention that he transferred to Alabama in the first place -- you’ve got the perfect recipe for blind dislike."

Lane Kiffin also gets a mention of course.

Alabama's Flight Records Reveal Controlled Chaos Behind Securing The Nation's No. 1 Recruiting Class 
"Not even perhaps the most successful coach in the nation was immune to becoming just another frequent flyer in search of new talent. To determine just how frenzied this period was for Nick Saban, AL.com, through the Freedom of Information Act, obtained the logs of the 24-year-old plane (N1UA) registered to the Crimson Tide Foundation — the fundraising arm of the Alabama athletics department — that carried Saban and his staff to their destinations."

Steve Spurrier: Bama SEC Favorite
"Spurrier, who enters his 10th season leading the Gamecocks, called Alabama "the favorites" to win the SEC, in large part because of its recruiting efforts. The Crimson Tide wrapped up their third straight No. 1 class in February and have never finished outside of the top three in ESPN's rankings since Saban's first year in Tuscaloosa in 2007. With 16 current ESPN 300 commitments, they are well on their way to another top class."

Someone Hung An Alabama Flag In Texas A&M's Stadium 
"Someone -- perhaps an Alabama fan working as a construction worker doing renovations at Texas A&M's Kyle Field -- decided to have a little fun with the Tide's new SEC rival Monday morning and flew an Alabama flag outside of the stadium"

He got fired for it.

ESPN Projections For Each SEC Team Have Alabama Winning It All
"The Crimson Tide is projected to win 9.9 games and has a 4 percent chance of going undefeated. In addition to its 22.6 percent chance of winning the SEC, Alabama has a 38 percent chance of winning the SEC West. Alabama is the favorite in every game and has at least a 64.5 percent chance of winning all but the LSU (57.5) and Auburn (57.8) games"

Obviously, Alabama will win more than 10 games, but I like the way they crunch the numbers here.

"Auburn is the favorite to win every game this season except the Iron Bowl, but the Tigers have only the fourth-best odds of winning the SEC title for a second straight season."


Kirby Smart Is The Smartest Assistant Coach In College Football
“My family’s so happy in Tuscaloosa,” Smart said. “My wife loves it. We’ve got 6-year-old twins and a 2-year-old. We’ve been very fortunate. I moved seven times the first seven years I coached. The last, I guess, eight, going on eight, I’ve been in the same place, and my kids only know one place. So for us that’s very comfortable.”

Kirby Smart Ranks 4 Best Alabama Players He's Coached 

Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Javier Arenas.

Tide 2014: Coker Needs A Chance, Not Crushing Pressure
"If Coker doesn’t come right out of the gate looking like some combination of Joe Namath, Peyton Manning, Y.A. Tittle, an M1A1 Abrams tank and Secretariat, the fan backlash could be the biggest thing since … well, since the last second of the 2013 Auburn game. There is no meltdown like that of an angry Alabama fan."