Nick Saban has built the Alabama Crimson Tide back into a national power in college football from the inside out. He’s recruited offensive and defensive linemen who can control the line of scrimmage by being tougher, smarter and more physical than their competition. Nobody has exemplified those characteristics more for Saban at Alabama than starting center Barrett Jones.
Jones has been the leader of the offensive line all season long. It has been an offensive line that has helped open up running lanes for the Alabama rushing attack, which is averaging 224.6 yards per game, and protected quarterback A.J. McCarron as the Tide have rolled to a 12-1 record and a second consecutive appearance in the BCS National Championship. If Alabama is victorious, it will be Jones’ third national title in his career with the Crimson Tide.
But to truly understand how impressive Barrett Jones has been at Alabama, we have to consider his sophomore and junior years. In 2010, Jones broke into the starting lineup as a guard. The sophomore would go on to have an excellent season and was named a first-team All-American.
He followed up his All-American campaign with a move from guard to left tackle. He responded pretty flawlessly, anchoring McCarron’s blind side as the Tide rolled all the way to a national championship. He was also named first-team All-American for a second time and won the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s most outstanding offensive lineman.
This season, he moved again, this time to center, and he hasn’t missed a beat. The Alabama offensive line is once again one of the strongest in the country as Jones leads them by calling out protections and assignments. The senior is once again a first-team All-American selection and is not only up for a second consecutive Outland Trophy this year, but also the Rimington Award, which goes to the country’s best center. And oh yeah, he just took home the Campbell Trophy, also known as the “Academic Heisman.”
Jones is a unique combination of size, smarts and versatility that has made him a vital cog in the Alabama football machine over the last three seasons. If Saban could clone one player to fill his roster with, you can bet that Barrett Jones would be at the top of the list to get stuffed into a test tube.
Three seasons, three positions, three first-team All-American honors with the possibility of two Outland Trophy wins, a Rimington Award and the Campbell Trophy. You would be hard pressed to find a more impressive resume for any college football player, let alone another offensive lineman. He is likely one of the best offensive linemen in the history of college football and easily one of the most decorated and impressive.
And after the BCS National Championship Game January 7, we likely won’t see another player like him for a long, long time.