Dec. 8, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama had nine players selected to the Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference Team on Monday, including six on the first team. Head coach Nick Saban also earned the SEC Coach of the Year honor and wide receiver Julio Jones was picked as the SEC Freshman of the Year.
Saban captured SEC Coach of the Year honors after guiding the No. 4 Crimson Tide to a 12-1 record and an SEC Western Division Championship. He also engineered the largest win increase from year one to year two in Alabama history. It is Saban’s second SEC Coach of the Year honor from the AP after winning the award at LSU in 2003.
Jones took home the top freshman award after shattering all of the Crimson Tide’s freshman receiving records. The Foley, Ala., native caught 51 passes for 847 yards and four touchdowns. He produced three 100-yard receiving games and was fourth in the league in receiving years per game with 65.2.
Left tackle Andre Smith and free safety Rashad Johnson were unanimous first-team All-SEC selections and garnered first-team honors for the second straight season. Center Antoine Caldwell and running back Glen Coffee joined Smith as first-team selections on offense with nose guard Terrence Cody and linebacker Rolando McClain being tabbed along with Johnson as first-team picks on defense.
Jones and left guard Mike Johnson were second-team All-SEC selections on offense with cornerback Javier Arenas being named to the second-team defense.
First-team selections Smith and Caldwell teamed up with second-team choice Johnson on Alabama’s offensive line to help the Tide’s offense rank 23rd nationally with 196.5 rushing yards per game. They also helped open holes for Coffee, who leads the SEC in rushing yards (1,347) and is third in average yards per game (103.6). A junior from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., Coffee has scored 10 rushing touchdowns and produced five 100-yard rushing games this season.
On defense, McClain led the Crimson Tide with 91 tackles, including 45 solo stops, 11.0 tackles for loss (-44), 3.0 sacks (-22), one interception, five pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. Johnson was second on the team in tackles with 82 while leading the team and ranking fourth in the SEC with five interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns. Cody, a junior from Fort Myers, Fla., accounted for 23 tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss (-14) and two fumble recoveries while occupying multiple blockers at once.
Arenas, a junior from Tampa, Fla., excelled as both a cornerback and punt returner. The second-team All-SEC honoree accounted for 58 total tackles with seven pass breakups and one interception, which he returned 63 yards for a touchdown at Arkansas. He also ranked second in the SEC in punt returns with a 14.42 per return average with two returns for touchdowns.