Auburn and Alabama have had tremendous success this football season, but neither school could have produced as many wins if they did not have a roster full of talented players. For fans watching their television sets this bowl season, many familiar faces can be seen when the state’s top teams take the field.
• The Tigers had one of the best rushing attacks in the nation, with Tre Mason grabbing most of the headlines and an invitation to the Heisman Trophy presentation. Leading the way for many of his runs has been center Reese Dismukes of Spanish Fort. The 6-foot-3, 297-pound junior was named third-team All-American by The Associated Press, was selected as a first-team member of the coaches’ All-SEC squad and was a finalist for the prestigious Rimington Trophy.
Also in the backfield is senior fullback Jay Prosch, who played his prep ball at UMS-Wright. Primarily a blocker, he caught a touchdown pass this season.
Robert Leff, a redshirt freshman from Fairhope, played in all 13 games on the offensive line. Other players with local connections for the Tigers are junior defensive back Adam Dyas (St. Paul’s), sophomore linebacker Daniel Pond (Spanish Fort) and sophomore defensive lineman Jabrian Niles (Davidson).
• The Crimson Tide fell short of its goal of winning a third straight national title this season, but senior quarterback AJ McCarron (St. Paul’s) did everything he could to keep Alabama in the hunt. With a career record of 36-3, he completed 67.6 percent of his passes this year for 2,676 yards and 26 touchdowns.
The winner of the Maxwell Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, McCarron was also invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy event. He finished second in the balloting, trailing eventual winner Jameis Winston of Florida State. McCarron was all on the AP’s third-team All-American squad.
Senior C.J. Mosley (Theodore) was the recipient of the Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate linebacker, and was a first-team All-American pick by The Associated Press. The third Crimson Tide player to win the trophy, Mosley leads his club with 102 tackles and nine tackles for loss. Mosley shared the coaches’ SEC defensive player of the year honor with Missouri’s Michael Sam.
In the SEC coaches’ first-team backfield is sophomore T.J. Yeldon (Daphne). He finished third in the conference with 1,163 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Others seeing action for the Crimson Tide this year have been junior defensive back Jarrick Williams (Blount), sixth on the team with 37 total tackles; junior running back Jalston Fowler (Vigor), who got one start this year; freshman offensive lineman Alphonse Taylor (Davidson), who played in eight games; and sophomore tight end Corey McCarron (Spanish Fort), who caught a pass from his older brother. Joining them on the roster for the Sugar Bowl showdown with Oklahoma on Thursday, Jan. 2, in New Orleans are junior wide receiver Spencer Baumhower (Fairhope), freshman linebacker Ryan Anderson (Daphne) and freshman defensive back Jonathan Cook (Spanish Fort).
• When the BCS championship game kicks off on Monday night, Jan. 6, in Pasadena, Calif., Auburn will not be the only team for whom local fans will be cheering. Several area players have produced for No. 1 ranked Florida State. this season.
Freshman defensive back Nate Andrews (Fairhope) leads the Seminoles with four interceptions. He is 10th on the team with 31 total tackles, and has a sack and a fumble recovery.
Freshman defensive end Chris Casher (Davidson) has 25 total tackles, two sacks and scored on a fumble return. Others on the roster are sophomore quarterback Jacob Coker (St. Paul’s), who passed for 250 yards this year, and freshman offensive lineman Wilson Bell (Blount).
• Mobile’s own GoDaddy Bowl will also have a chance to show off some local talent when Arkansas State and Ball State clash on Sunday night, Jan. 5.
The Sun Belt Conference co-champion Red Wolves (7-5) are back for their third straight postseason contest at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Helping them to get back have been senior wide receiver Carlos McCants (LeFlore), sophomore offensive lineman Steven Stevens (Baldwin County High) and freshman Carl Lee Jr. (McGill-Toolen).
Ball State (10-2) comes in with a powerful offensive attack, with quarterback Keith Wenning fifth in the nation with 3,933 yards passing. The Cardinals have played in the Mobile bowl once, having fallen to Tulsa in 2008.
For what has become a common occurrence, this will be the sixth straight GoDaddy Bowl where a team will be directed by an interim coach. In the last three trips, Arkansas State has seen Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss), Gus Malzahn (Auburn) and now Bryan Harsin (Boise State) move on to new schools prior to the bowl games.
As he did last season, defensive coordinator John Thompson will be ASU’s interim coach. He did well in his first trial, directing the Red Wolves to a 17-13 win over Kent State. Ball State, meanwhile, will be looking for the school’s first bowl victory.
Events for the week start with the Mayor’s Luncheon at noon on Friday, Jan. 3, with Brett Favre serving as the guest speaker. The always popular Carnival-style parade is that Saturday night at 6:30, followed with a pep rally and fireworks display at 8 p.m. at Cooper Riverside Park.
NEW LOOK FOR MARATHON
L’Arche Mobile has announced a three-year partnership with ServisFirst Bank to be the title sponsor for the First Light Marathon. The 13th annual race is scheduled for Jan. 12.
The Mobile Sports Authority, which serves as the presenting sponsor, said that Sunday would include a 26.2-mile marathon, a half-marathon, a 1.2-mile fun run, plus a five-person relay. During the first dozen years, the races have had more than 19,000 participants, with visitors from all 50 states and 15 countries.
Following feedback from runners, the two longest courses have been changed. Participants will no longer have to cross railroad tracks, while less of the race will be run on Springhill Avenue. The event will once again serve as a qualifier for the prestigious Boston Marathon.
Proceeds from the race benefit L’Arche Mobile, a Christian community where people with and without intellectual disabilities share their lives together. All race medals are handmade by members of L’Arche Mobile, which marks its 40th anniversary in 2014.
For more information on the race, call Marty O’Malley at 251-438-2094 or visit www.firstlightmarathon.com.