Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Five outstanding seniors from the University of Alabama - led by the school's all-time leading passer Brodie Croyle and first-team All-American linebacker DeMeco Ryans - will play for the South in the 2006 Senior Bowl, presented by Food World.
Bowl officials also announced on Wednesday that three other members of the nation's top ranked scoring defense in 2005 - linebacker Freddie Roach, All-SEC defensive back Roman Harper and defensive end Mark Anderson would join Croyle and Ryans on the South team roster.
"This group is to be admired not only for their athletic ability, but also their class and the leadership they've shown," said Senior Bowl President and CEO Steve Hale. "They can also be very proud of their senior year, going to a major bowl game."
Croyle enjoyed a legendary Alabama career as a four-year starter, finishing as the school's all-time leader in several major passing categories including career yards with 6,107, completions with 469 and touchdown passes with 40.
Also considered one of the top senior quarterbacks available in this year's NFL Draft, Croyle passed for 2,224 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2005 in helping lead Alabama to a 9-2 regular season record and berth in the 2006 Cotton Bowl.
The 6-3, 205-pounder from Rainbow City, Ala., is also the only quarterback in school history to pass for 2,000 yards or more in two different seasons, as his 2,303 yards in 2003 ranks second on the all-time Alabama single season list.
His 341 pass attempts that year ranks as the all-time school single season best, and his 16 TD passes that season tied the single season school mark, a total he shares with current Alabama head coach Mike Shula.
He also set another Alabama record during the 2005 season when he engineered a streak of 190 consecutive pass attempts without an interception, third longest in SEC history, and shattered the former school mark of 155 held by Jay Barker.
Ryans enjoyed a truly spectacular senior season, earning first-team All-American honors and is a finalist for three major national defensive player awards, while enabling the Crimson Tide defense to lead the nation in fewest points allowed with just 10.7 per game.
Named last week to the AFCA first-team All-American squad and the Associated Press SEC Defensive Player of the Year on Monday, he is also one of three finalists for the Butkus Award, presented annually to the top linebacker in college football.
The 6-2, 232-pounder from Bessemer, was one of the five finalists for the prestigious Nagurski Award, presented to the top defensive player in college football, as well as one of three finalists for the 2005 Lott Award, given to college football's premier defensive player which takes into account an individual's performance both on and off the field.
A four-year starter who has played in all 49 games in his career, Ryans led the Crimson Tide defense with 69 total tackles this season, 38 of them solos, and also added ten tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two pass break-ups, four quarterback hurries, recovered two fumbles and forced another.
A standout student, as well, he graduated from Alabama in just seven semesters, was a 2004 Academic All-American and was also named a finalist for the 2005 Draddy Award, often referred to as the "Academic Heisman."
Ryans turned in one of his best single game performance of the 2005 season against Tennessee when he recorded 11 tackles, 1.5 for loss, one fumble recovery and one interception the Tide's 6-3 win which earned him Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week honors.
In 2003, he set a school single game record when he recorded an amazing 25 tackles in a double-overtime loss to Arkansas.
In addition to leading the nation in scoring defense, the Tide allowed just 248.4 yards per game in 2005, which led the SEC and ranked second only to Virginia Tech among all NCAA Division I-A defenses this season.
Joining Ryans from that outstanding unit will be three other senior stars, two of whom also finished their careers ranked among the top ten tacklers in school history.
Harper has enjoyed a stellar Crimson Tide career as the three-year starter. He is currently fifth all-time with 300 tackles.
The 6-1, 200-pounder from Prattville, Ala., also made the biggest defensive play of the 2005 season against Tennessee when, with the score tied at 3-3 and Vols inside the Bama 15-yard line in the game's final moments, he hit UT fullback Cory Anderson on third and goal at the UA four-yard line and forced a fumble that rolled through the end zone for a touchback.
He is currently second on the team in tackles in 2005 with 67, and added 5.5 tackles for loss, one pass break-up, forced two fumbles and had one interception, which he returned 50 yards.
Named to the first-team All-SEC squad selected by the Mobile Register in 2005, he was a second-team AP All-SEC pick a year ago when he recorded 77 tackles. As a sophomore in 2003, he made 111 total tackles which ranked second on the squad to Ryan's 126.
Anderson developed into one of the nation's top pass rushers during the 2005 season, finishing the year with a team-leading seven quarterback sacks and seven quarterback hurries to go along with his 37 total tackles. His 13 tackles for loss also led the Crimson Tide defense.
The 6-5, 253-pounder from Tulsa, Okla., turned in his best single game performance against Southern Miss when he recorded six total tackles, which included two tackles for loss and one quarterback sack.
He finished his career with 138 total tackles, 33 for loss, and added 13 quarterback sacks and 23 quarterback hurries.
Roach teamed with Ryans to give the Tide one of the nation's top linebacking duos this past season.
A second-team Associated Press All-SEC selection in 2005, Roach finished third on the Tide defense with 63 total tackles from his middle linebacker position this year. He also added a team-leading nine pass break-ups, two quarterback hurries and 2.5 tackles for loss, and turned in his best single game effort with an 11-tackle performance against Arkansas.
He currently his 269 career tackles, which ranks tenth on the all-time school list.
The 6-2, 248-pounder from Killen, was named a first-team Freshman All-American following his stellar 2002 campaign which saw him record 63 tackles in ten games to rank sixth on the team.
Tickets to the January 28, 2006, Senior Bowl are currently on sale at all area Food World stores, selected AmSouth Bank branches and the Senior Bowl ticket office in the Riverview Plaza Hotel
Tickets sell for $24, $18 and $12 each and can also be purchased by calling the 251-432-4109 or ordered through the bowl's website at www.seniorbowl.com.