Alabama’s Barrett Jones added a couple more awards to his trophy case Thursday.
He won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center, which was presented during the Red Carpet Show before the Home Depot College Awards Show on ESPNU.
“I am truly honored to be recognized as the winner of the Rimington Trophy,” Jones said in a news release. “The job of learning the center position as a senior has been one of the most difficult challenges of my career, but also one of the most enjoyable and rewarding. With that said, this award would not have been possible without of my teammates, coaches and specifically the rest of our offensive line.”
He was the third Rimington finalist since Nick Saban became the Tide’s head coach in 2007. Antoine Caldwell (2008) and William Vlachos (2011) also were finalists, but before Jones, no Alabama player has won the award.
“From day one, Barrett Jones has been an indispensable part of the Alabama Crimson Tide’s offensive line,” said Dave Rimintgon, President of the Boomer Esiason Foundation. “He has enjoyed outstanding success on the playing field and in the classroom. We are extremely proud to name him the winner of the 2012 Rimington Trophy. Congratulations to Barrett and all of the watch list candidates and finalists.”
Earlier in the day, Jones was named the Capital One Academic All-American of the Year for Division I football. The College Sports Information Directors of America made the selection.
Jones is a four-time academic All-American and carries a 4.0 grade point average as he pursues a graduate degree in accounting.
Jones and his Alabama teammates will face Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7, 2013.
Also Thursday, Notre Dame standout linebacker Manti Te’o continued to reap postseason awards.
Now the linebacker needs two more victories to cap an unforgettable senior season.
Te’o was honored three times Thursday, including the Maxwell Award for the nation’s most outstanding player.
Te’o has now won six major awards since the end of Notre Dame’s regular season, also taking home the Bednarik Award for top defensive player and Walter Camp Foundation player of the year award on Thursday. He became the first defensive player to win the Maxwell Award since 1980, ending a string of nine straight quarterbacks.
Next up is the Heisman Trophy ceremony on Saturday night, with Te’o and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel considered the favorites. Then Te’o will try to help the Fighting Irish dethrone defending champion Alabama in the BCS national championship game.
“I’m at a loss for words,” he said of winning the Maxwell. “The last time I ever dreamt of winning that award was on a video game. So to win it is a mind-blowing experience.”
Wearing a black beaded lei representing his native Hawaii, Te’o said coming back to play football following the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend just four days apart this season makes everything he’s achieved since then more worthwhile.
“I never thought that me coming back for my senior year would be the best situation for me with the tragedy,” Te’o said. “It’s a testament that the Lord answered my prayers and that I had 80-plus brothers there with me, sacrificing for me.”
Te’o finished the regular season with 103 tackles and seven interceptions.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who was presented with the Coach of the Year award after leading the Irish to their first 12-0 regular season since 1988, said Te’o is an example of the family culture he’s tried to build in his three seasons in South Bend.
“Everybody knows you don’t do it with one guy,” Kelly said. “Collectively, everybody just bought in. ... We still got one (game) left. We want to finish it off the right way.”
While Te’o and Notre Dame certainly had a big night, so too did Texas A&M. Manziel won the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and junior offensive lineman Luke Joeckel took home the Outland Trophy for the nation’s best interior lineman.
Other players honored Thursday were Southern California’s Marqise Lee (Biletnikoff Award for top receiver), Tulane’s Cairo Santos (Lou Groza Award for top kicker), Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen (Ray Guy Award for top punter), Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks (Jim Thorpe Award for top defensive back), and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball (Doak Walker Award for top running back).
Manziel acknowledged he will be nervous Saturday knowing he has a chance to win college football’s most hallowed individual honor. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is the third finalist for the Heisman Trophy.