TUSCALOOSA -- It’s preseason watch list time, and once again, several Alabama players have made the cut.
Alabama's swiss army knife, Christion Jones, nabbed a spot on the Paul Hornung Award watch list, which recognizes the country’s most versatile player. Jones was one of 47 players named, and one of four from the SEC, joining Mississippi State’s Jameon Lewis, Missouri’s Marcus Murphy and South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper.
During his time with the Crimson Tide, Jones has excelled as a wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner. He graced the cover of Sports Illustrated after his week one performance against Virginia Tech in which he scored a touchdown receiving, on a kick return and on a punt return.
He finished third on the team with 36 receptions while racking up 347 yards and two touchdowns. He returned three kicks (one kickoff, two punts) for touchdowns. He averaged 28.7 yards on kick returns and 14 yards on punts.
LSU’s Odell Beckham won the award last season.
Four Alabama players earned a spot on the Maxwell Award watch list, which goes to the nation’s most outstanding college football player. Wide receiver Amari Cooper, running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry and quarterback Jacob Coker made the 76-man list. Both Cooper and Yeldon were named to the watch list last season.
Quarterback AJ McCarron became the first player in program history to win the Maxwell when he took home the award last year.
Yeldon returns after leading Alabama in rushing last season with 1,235 yards and 14 touchdowns. With 2,343 rushing yards through two seasons, Yeldon trails Shaun Alexander by 1,222 yards for Alabama’s all-time career rushing record.
Despite battling nagging foot injuries last year, Cooper led the Tide with 45 receptions and 736 yards, adding four touchdowns.
Henry’s performance in the Sugar Bowl has garnered much praise as he’s being included on the preseason watch list. He ran for 100 yards on eight carries and had a 61-yard touchdown reception.
Coker hasn’t played any meaningful snaps throughout his career. He completed 18 of 36 passes for 250 yards in mop-up duty before a season-ending knee injury. Coker is considered by many to be the favorite to replace McCarron.
Not to be outdone, Alabama’s defense put three players on the 76-man Bednarik Award watch list, which goes to the nation’s best defensive player. Senior linebacker Trey DePriest, safety Landon Collins and sophomore defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson made the cut. Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald won the award last year. Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley was a finalist.
A returning two-year starter, DePriest is expected to be Alabama’s leader in the middle, replacing Mosley. DePriest had 65 tackles last season.
Collins is one of the nation’s top safeties. He finished second on the team with 70 tackles. He snatched two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown.
Robinson had a team-high 5.5 sacks. He totaled 38 tackles, eight tackles for loss and five quarterback hurries. Robinson has the ability to play both defensive tackle and defensive end, depending on the defensive alignment.