Alabama Football: What we can learn from the spring awards

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 22: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after their 33-14 win over the Texas A
TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 22: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after their 33-14 win over the Texas A /

Player awards after spring practices are an Alabama football tradition. Who wins and who doesn’t win can say a lot about the team.

The tradition of handing out Alabama football, player awards at the end of each spring goes back to Bear Bryant. A few awards have been added over the years. Two of the awards, the Dixie Howell MVP and the Dwight Stephenson Lineman of A-Day award are determined by media votes.

The number of award winners has grown more than the number of awards. Other than the media awards, it is common for most of the awards to be shared by two or more players. Last season the Ozzie Newsome Most Improved Freshman and the Bart Starr Most Improved Player awards were shared by 14 players. Last year a total of 44 Alabama football players received spring awards.

The award numbers were down slightly this year to 42. The media spring awards for 2018 were a big surprise and almost no surprise. An advance poll predicting the Dixie Howell MVP winner would have never chosen Mac Jones or Joseph Bulovas. The two surprises shared the award. Surprising no one, Raekwon Davis won the Dwight Stephenson Lineman of A-Day award.

Three awards where character plays a big part

Derrick Thomas Community Service Award: Joshua Casher and Jamey Mosley

Bear Bryant Outstanding Non-Scholarship Award: Giles Amos, Mac Hereford, D.J. Lewis and DeMarquise Lockridge

Mal Moore Leadership Award: Shyheim Carter, Hale Hentges and Ross Pierschbacher

Two of Bryant’s favorite awards

Jerry Duncan “I Like To Practice” Award: Miller Forristall, Jalen Hurts, Derek Kief and Deionte Thompson

Lee Roy Jordan Headhunter Award: Irv Smith Jr. and Mack Wilson

The other traditional spring awards

Billy Neighbors Defensive Lineman Award: Raekwon Davis and Isaiah Buggs

Paul Crane Offensive Lineman Award: Lester Cotton and Alex Leatherwood

Bobby Johns Defensive Back Award: Trevon Diggs and Xavier McKinney

Johnny Musso Offensive Back Award: Damien Harris and Najee Harris

Ray Perkins Receiver Award: Henry Ruggs III and Devonta Smith

Woodrow Lowe Linebacker Award: Christian Miller and Dylan Moses

Ozzie Newsome Most Improved Freshman Award: Chris Allen, Kedrick James, Phidarian Mathis, LaBryan Ray and Jedrick Wills

Bart Starr Most Improved Player Award: Deonte Brown, Johnny Dwight, Brian Robinson Jr., Saivion Smith and Quinnen Williams

Before too many conclusions are drawn, it is important to remember several players have been injured and missed out on a chance at spring awards: Anfernee Jennings, Matt Womack, Jerry Jeudy, Josh Jacobs and others.

It is noteworthy that six players, apparently leading to become the 2018 first-team, nickel defense, won awards. The awards do not make Deionte Thompson, Shyheim Carter, Saivion Smith, Trevon Diggs and Xavier McKinney first-team locks, but it shows they have earned the staff’s confidence.

It is possible to win a spring award and play little the following fall. It happened to Johnny Dwight last season. Hopefully, it will not happen to Dwight again.

Alabama football players win so many awards – team and conference, plus national awards – the spring awards may not seem significant. For anyone thinking such foolishness, look down the list of Alabama football legends for whom the awards are named – and think again.

Next: Saban hunting for No. 1 class

ICYMI, Alabama football secured its second and expected to be final QB commit for 2019. Tua’s younger brother, Taulia (Lia) committed on Saturday.