Nov. 24, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - University of Alabama left tackle Andre Smith was named a finalist for the 63rd Outland Trophy the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) announced on Monday.
The Outland Trophy is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football. The winner will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 11 during "The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show" at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Smith, a junior from Birmingham, Ala., anchors a powerful offensive line that has been a key to the top-ranked Crimson Tide's success in 2008. Smith has surrendered just one sack all season and only seven in his 36-game Alabama career. Smith has also helped clear the way for 198.5 rushing yards per game this season, which ranks 23rd nationally. Smith was ask Monday what winning the Outland Trophy would mean.
"It would mean that hard work and determination that we did as a team helped certain individuals be nominated for certain awards," Smith said. "That's why I give all the success to my teammates helping me and other guys earn the honor to be finalists for certain awards."
Joining Smith as finalists is Mississippi's Michael Oher and Oklahoma's Duke Robinson. Smith is the only player selected as a finalist for the both the Outland Trophy and the Rotary Lombardi Award, which is given to the top offensive lineman, defensive lineman or linebacker.
"I really can't say enough about the consistency that he's (Andre Smith) played with," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "He's worked hard this year, he worked hard on his weight, and he worked hard on his conditioning. I think his ability to sustain is better, I think his knowledge and experience at his position has helped him play with more consistency. I think Joe Pendry (offensive line coach) has done a really good job of helping him develop, and Andre's worked really hard. It's hard for me to think that anybody could've played much better at his position, though I don't see them all play and I'm not making comparisons, but he's played about as well as, I think, anybody could."
Smith is looking to become the Crimson Tide's second Outland Trophy winner. Former Tide All-American Chris Samuels captured the 1999 Outland Trophy.
The Outland Trophy has been awarded annually by the FWAA since 1946. It is named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at Pennsylvania at the turn of the century. The Outland Trophy is the third-oldest award in major college football behind the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award.