Dec. 7, 2008
HOOVER, Ala. – The 2008 Southeastern Conference Western Division Champion University of Alabama football team held its annual awards banquet Sunday at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. Alabama head football coach Nick Saban addressed the crowd of team members, coaching staff, administration and support staff following the awards session. Saban recapped the 2008 regular season and outlined his team’s goals for the upcoming Sugar Bowl game against Utah.
“First of all, I'm very proud of what our football team was able to accomplish this year,” Saban said. “The only team that plays in a real BCS conference that went 12 0, which is very difficult to do, and I'm very proud of the way our players played, with consistency all year, the way they competed. You know, football is a lot like life; you know, you get what you expect, and these guys had a high standard for how they competed and how they played.
‘I also think that this team should be remembered as, and have a legacy as, a team. The seniors on this team should have a legacy on this team and be remembered by they were the team that brought a lot of pride back to the University of Alabama, to the football program and to the people of the state of Alabama who support it. And I think that should be their legacy; that they went undefeated in the regular season, which is a very difficult thing to do.
Alabama also named its permanent team captains for the 2008 season. The Tide voted senior center Antoine Caldwell, senior safety Rashad Johnson and senior quarterback John Parker Wilson as its team captains. Caldwell and Johnson were elected captains for the second year in a row and join S.B. Slone (1894,1896), W.E. Drennen (1900-01), W.S. Wyatt (1903-04), Al Clemens (1921, 1923), Jarret Johnson (2001-02) and Tyler Watts (2001-02) as the only two-time captains in school history.
Junior running back Glen Coffee was named the team’s Most Valuable Player, after posting the fourth-high single-season rushing total (1,347) in school history. Wilson and junior left tackle Andre Smith shared Offensive Player of the Year honors. Wilson was 12-1 as the Tide’s starting quarterback and passed for more than 2,000 yards for the third straight season. Smith started all 13 games at left tackle and allowed only sack all season.
Johnson and sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain shared Defensive Player of the Year honors. McClain led the Tide with 91 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss. Johnson was second on the team with 82 tackles and led the Tide with five interceptions and 11 pass break-ups.
Juniors Javier Arenas, P.J. Fitzgerald and Leigh Tiffin won Special Team Player of the Year honors. Arenas led the Tide in punt returns and kickoff returns and had two punt returns for touchdowns this season. Tiffin was the team’s leading scorer with 101 points and converted 44 of 45 extra-point attempts and 19 of 26 field goals. Fitzgerald averaged a career-best 41.1 yards on 55 punts this year.
The complete list of award winners:
Unsung Hero Award:
Kareem Jackson, Nikita Stover, Nick Walker and Justin Woodall
Outstanding Senior Scholar:
Commitment to Academic Excellence Award:
Charlie Higgenbotham, Greg McElroy and Charlie Kirschman
Iron Man Award:
Drew Davis, Marlon Davis, Cory Reamer and Roy Upchurch
Most Inspiring Player:
Pat Trammel Award:
Bobby Greenwood and Travis McCall
Outstanding Defensive Performer:
Rolando McClain and Rashad Johnson
Brandon Deaderick, Brandon Fanney, Mike Johnson and Andre Smith
Defensive Achievement Award:
Terrence Cody and Dontá Hightower
Offensive Achievement Award:
Mark Ingram and Julio Jones
Javier Arenas, Antoine Caldwell, Glen Coffee and Rashad Johnson
Jefferson County Distinguished Alumnus Award:
Special Teams Player of the Year Award:
Javier Arenas, P.J. Fitzgerald and Leigh Tiffin
Offensive Player of the Year Award:
Andre Smith and John Parker Wilson
Defensive Player of the Year Award:
Rolando McClain and Rashad Johnson
Most Valuable Player Award:
Antoine Caldwell, Rashad Johnson and John Parker Wilson