Alabama's Tagovailoa earns top honors from SEC coaches


From Special Reports



BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Southeastern Conference coaches named Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen as offensive and defensive players of the year Wednesday. 


Kentucky's Mark Stoops is the SEC Coach of the Year in voting by league coaches. 


Texas A&M's Braden Mann is the pick as top special teams player and Crimson Tide receiver Jaylen Waddle is freshman of the year. Alabama players also claimed two other awards. 


Tight end Hale Hentges is scholar athlete of the year and left tackle Jonah Williams wins the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the top lineman. 


Tagovailoa is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and led Alabama into the College Football Playoffs. Allen won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's top defensive player. 


Tagovailoa has thrown for 3,353 yards and a school-record 37 touchdowns with just four interceptions on 199-for-294 passing (67.7 percent) this season. The sophomore is tied for second on the Alabama career touchdown pass list with 48 and has thrown for 300 or more yards an Alabama-record five times this season. His 42 combined passing and rushing touchdowns are also a Alabama single-season record. His six total touchdowns (five passing, one rushing) against Auburn on Nov. 24 is also a school single-game record. 


Waddle established himself as at receiver and on special teams in his debut campaign with the Tide. He led all SEC freshmen in scoring (48 points on eight touchdowns), receptions per game (3.2) and receiving yards per game (61.8). The Houston, Texas native caught 41 passes for 803 yards to average 19.6 yards per catch with seven touchdown receptions. He added 15 punt returns for 226 yards and one score with his 15.1 yards per return average ranking second in the SEC. 


Hentges already has earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for efforts in the classroom this season and is a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. The Jefferson City, Missouri, native was also a semifinalist William V. Campbell Trophy. On the field, Hentges has caught three passes for 33 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season while also serving as a proficient blocker for the Crimson Tide's record-setting offense. 


A veteran presence on the Crimson Tide offensive line, Jonah Williams has started all 42 games during his Alabama career and blocked for 20 100-yard rushing performances over his three standout seasons at the Capstone. The junior anchors an Alabama offensive front that is one of three finalists for the Joe Moore Award. He helps clear the way for a Tide offense that leads the SEC and is second nationally in scoring at 47.9 points per game. Alabama also leads the league and ranks No. 7 in the country in total offense, averaging 527.6 yards per game, which is on pace to shatter the school record. 


Williams is also a finalist for the Outland Trophy and was the Outland National Player of the Month in September. 


n In related news, Nick Saban was announced as a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award and Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Trophy on Wednesday. 


In his 12th season at Alabama, Saban has led the Crimson Tide to a 13-0 record, its 27th Southeastern Conference championship and the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. This is the sixth time Alabama has won 13 games under Saban and the fifth consecutive season the Tide has won at least 12 games, the longest such streak in Football Bowl Subdivision history. 


Saban is joined as a finalist for the Robinson Award by Bill Clark (UAB), Josh Heupel (UCF), Brian Kelly (Notre Dame), Jeff Monken (Army), Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma), Dabo Swinney (Clemson) and Jeff Tedford (Fresno State). Saban previously won the award, which is presented by the Football Writers Association of America, in 2003 and 2008. 


Joining Saban as Dodd finalists are Dino Babers (Syracuse), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern) and Kirby Smart (Georgia) along with Kelly, Riley and Swinney. Saban was previously honored with the Dodd Award, which is presented by the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, in 2014. 


The Robinson Award winner will be announced Jan. 5, 2019, in San Jose, California, in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. The Dodd Trophy will be announced during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl week in Atlanta later this month. 


n Mississippi State defensive duo earns All-America honors from Sports Illustrated: At Starkville, Mississippi State senior defensive end Montez Sweat and senior safety Johnathan Abram were named second-team All-Americans by Sports Illustrated on Wednesday. 


This was Sweat's first postseason All-America honor and the second for Abram, who also earned second-team status from The Athletic on Wednesday. Joining Abram on The Athletic's All-America teams were senior center Elgton Jenkins (first team) and junior defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons (second team). 


Wednesday's selections marked the second time in MSU history and the first time since 2000 that the Bulldogs had four different players land on All-America teams (linebacker Mario Haggan, safety Pig Prather, cornerback Fred Smoot, offensive tackle Pork Chop Womack). Sweat and Simmons also become the second Bulldog defensive line tandem in program history to earn All-America status in the same season and the first since defensive tackle Glen Collins and defensive end Billy Jackson in 1981. 


One of college football's most feared edge rushers, Sweat racked up 11 sacks, good for sixth in the Football Bowl Subdivision and second in the Southeastern Conference. He boasted 40 total pressures over the season, according to Pro Football Focus, which was the second most in the SEC among edge defenders. Sweat totaled 51 total tackles, 13 1/2 tackles for loss and one forced fumbled over the year en route to two SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week selections and two national defensive player of the week honors. 


A hard-hitting playmaker, Abram filled the stat sheet in his final year with the Bulldogs, racking up 93 tackles, seven-and-a-half for loss, two-and-a-half sacks, five pass breakups, two interceptions, once forced fumble and one fumble recovery. 


On ESPN's Todd McShay's top 32 players for the 2019 NFL draft, Sweat is listed No. 24 and Abram is at No. 30. 


Sweat and Abram also were first-team All-SEC picks by The Associated Press on Monday. 


Jenkins, from Clarksdale, is the first first-team All-American offensive lineman for MSU since Gabe Jackson in 2013. A versatile veteran who has started 31 games in his career and can play all four positions on the offensive line, Jenkins anchors a unit that paves the way for a Bulldog run game that averages 226.4 yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry. Jenkins, who claimed the Kent Hull Trophy last week as the top offensive lineman in the state of Mississippi, is a two-time SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week this season and boasts an 80.8 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus. In 726 snaps in pass protection at center over the last two seasons, he has allowed just one sack. He has played 2,597 total snaps over his 48-game career and is projected to be the No. 1 center selected in the 2019 NFL Draft, according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. 


Simmons, one of the most dominant defensive linemen in college football, closed the regular season with 59 tackles, 14 1/2 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, and four pass breakups. A first-team All-SEC pick by The AP, Simmons' 14 1/2 tackles for loss ranked fourth in the SEC. A total of 45 of his 59 tackles came during conference play, which led all defensive lineman. 


The Macon native, was one of just four SEC defensive interior linemen with at least 15 hurries and four quarterback hits this season. He is just one of three players in the league with at least 12 tackles for loss in the last two seasons. Simmons won the C Spire Conerly Award on Nov. 27, which is presented to the best college football player in the state of Mississippi. 




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