Sept. 1, 2009
SOPHOMORE SENSATIONS: Julio Jones and Mark Ingram return for their sophomore season and give the Alabama offense a big-play threat both inside and outside. The duo turned in some of the best rookie seasons in school history in 2008. Jones set school freshman marks for receptions (58), yards (924) and touchdowns (4), while Ingram rushed for 728 yards and a UA rookie record 12 scores.
BURNS AND COCHRAN HONORED: Associate head coach and running backs coach Burton Burns along with head strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran were named the nation’s best at their respective fields in 2008. Burns was named college football’s 2008 FootballScoop Running Backs Coach of the Year, while Cochran was tabbed as the 2008 Samson Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Year for his work with the Crimson Tide in the weight room.
SPORTING NEWS CHRONICLES Mike Johnson: Like his fellow offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell did a season ago, Alabama senior left guard Mike Johnson will write a regular diary for the Sporting News in 2009. Johnson will take a look at all aspects of life when you are a college football player at one of the most storied programs.
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama’s success on the field over the past two seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has also coincided with the Crimson Tide’s success in the classroom. An impressive 12 Crimson Tide players will take the field in 2009 with degrees already in hand, including Eryk Anders (Health Studies), Drew Davis (marketing), P.J. Fitzgerald (management), Mike Johnson (consumer affairs), Tyrone King (Health Studies), Greg McElroy (business marketing), Cory Reamer (finance), Chris Rogers (consumer affairs), Ali Sharrief (human environmental science), Travis Sikes (consumer affairs), Heath Thomas and Lorenzo Washington (human environmental science). McElroy finished his undergraduate degree in just three years with a 3.86 grade point average while graduating magna cum laude. On top of that, another 10 players are on track to graduate in December of 2009. In 2008, Alabama had six players with degrees already in hand.
TIDE LEADS NATION IN GRADUATES: Alabama’s 12 graduates on the 2009 roster are the most of any school in the Bowl Championship Subdivision. The Crimson Tide is four graduates ahead of any other SEC school with Auburn checking in fifth with eight graduates. Boston College and the Tide season-opening opponent Virginia Tech are tied for second with 10 graduates while Miami and Penn State are fourth with nine.
PRESEASON RANKINGS: Alabama is ranked in the Associated Press preseason poll for the 42nd time in school history with its No. 5 ranking this season. The Crimson Tide is ranked in the AP preseason poll for the second time since 2001. From 1961-84, Alabama was ranked in 24 consecutive preseason polls. Overall, the Tide is 30-10-1 in season openers when ranked in the preseason top 25.
TOUGH SLATE: Alabama will once again have one of the most difficult schedules in the nation with three games against teams ranked in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll top 10. The Tide will face No. 7 Virginia Tech in the opener and then travel to No. 10 Mississippi on Oct. 10. The final preseason top-10 foe is LSU, who will visit Tuscaloosa on Nov 7.