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October 8, 2009

Notebook: Three Tide players named to watch lists

TUSCALOOSA | University of Alabama football players Greg McElroy and Mark Ingram were added to the watch lists for the Maxwell Award, which is presented to the best player in college football, and Javier Arenas was added to the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award for best defensive player, Thursday by the Maxwell Football Club.

McElroy, a junior quarterback, has completed 78 of 119 passes (66.5 percent) for 1,086 yards and nine touchdowns with just one interception. His 165.48 efficiency rating ranks sixth nationally. He's set two Crimson Tide passing records this season, for most consecutive completions (14 vs. FIU and North Texas) and highest completion percentage (13-of-15, 86.7 percent vs. North Texas).

Ingram, a sophomore running back, leads Alabama with 487 rushing yards on 83 carries and leads the Southeastern Conference with nine touchdowns (six rushing, three receiving).

Arenas third in Tide tackles with 26, and has four tackles for a loss, three sacks and two pass breakups. He joins senior nose tackle Terrence Cody and junior middle linebacker Rolando McClain on the Bednarik watch list.

Alabama has nine players on 12 different watch lists:

Arenas: Bednarik, Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year) and Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back).

Cody: Bednarik, Lombardi Trophy (top lineman or linebacker), Lott Trophy (best defensive player), Nagurski Award and Outland Trophy (top interior lineman).

Sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower (who is out for the year with a knee injury): Butkus Award (top linebacker) and Lombardi Trophy.

Ingram: Doak Walker Award (best running back) and Maxwell Trophy (player of the year).

Senior guard Mike Johnson: Lombardi Trophy and Outland Trophy.

Sophomore wide receiver Julio Jones: Biletnikoff Award (best receiver) and Maxwell Trophy (player of the year).

McClain: Chuck Bednarik Award, Dick Butkus Award, Lombardi Trophy, Lott Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Award.

McElroy: Maxwell Trophy.

Senior kicker Leigh Tiffin: Lou Groza Award (top kicker).

Saban knew back then
Long before John McDaniels became the coach turning heads with the Denver Broncos, he was a graduate assistant for Nick Saban at Michigan State in 1999.

Saban first learned of McDaniels while recruiting McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio, where his father Thom McDaniels coached, and kept an eye on him at John Carroll University.

"Well, Canton McKinley and all that were always my recruiting areas, so I knew (Josh) when he was a kid," Saban said during Wednesday's SEC conference call. "He was a quarterback in high school, always a bright, young guy that, you just knew if the guy wanted to be a coach, he'd be a good one. When he got out of college, we couldn't hire him fast enough. He wanted to be a grad assistant at Michigan State."

He eventually became an assistant coach for Saban's friend Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, where he became the offensive coordinator.

"Bill always does a good job of grabbing the good ones up, especially from people that he knows," Saban said.

Tide-bits
The NCAA has asked the 1st District Court of Appeal to reconsider a ruling for public release of documents on an academic cheating scandal at Florida State. The issue stems from the Committee on Infractions' decision for Florida State to vacate wins in numerous sports, including football.

The average SEC game time this season has been 3:19 in 42 total games. That's from 3:12 last season, although it was 3:23 in 2007. The shortest average SEC game time since 2001 was in 2006, 3:07.

From Alabama sports information, the Tide ranks seventh nationally defending third-downs, with a 27.14 conversion rate (19 for 70). UA held Virginia Tech to just two conversions on 12 third down attempts (16.7 percent). Florida International was just 7 for 17 (41.1), while North Texas was 4 of 14 (28.5). In SEC play, Arkansas was 2 for 14 (14.3 percent), and Kentucky 4 of 13 (30.8). Last year Alabama was third nationally at 28.14 percent (56 of 199).


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