Alabama Football’s Bozeman, Payne and Williams Named to Outland Trophy Watch List
Alabama senior center Bradley Bozeman, junior defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne and sophomore offensive lineman Jonah Williams have been named to the 2017 Outland Trophy Watch List announced today by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
The trio are among 81 candidates from around the country named to the preseason list. Four Crimson Tide players have won the award previously, including Chris Samuels (1999), Andre Smith (2008), Barrett Jones (2011) and Cam Robinson (2016).
A versatile lineman who has shown the ability to play at numerous spots along the offensive line, Bozeman moved to center at the start of the 2016 season after spending parts of his first two seasons at the tackle and guard positions. He started all 15 games during his junior campaign and helped the Tide rank 16th nationally and first in the SEC in scoring offense (38.8 ppg), as well as 12th nationally and second in the league in rushing offense (245.0 ypg). The Roanoke, Ala., native blocked for 11 100-yard rushing games a season ago — four from Damien Harris and Jalen Hurts along with two from Bo Scarbrough and one by Josh Jacobs.
One of the key cogs along the Crimson Tide’s vaunted defensive front, Payne totaled 36 tackles, three quarterback hurries, one pass breakup and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in 2016. He added 3.5 tackles for loss (-13 yards) and 1.5 sacks (-10 yards) from his nose guard spot on one of the top defenses in Alabama history. The Birmingham, Ala., native scored a key touchdown in Alabama’s come-from-behind victory at Ole Miss last season with a three-yard return early in the third quarter to highlight his sophomore campaign.
Williams secured a starting job at right tackle for the Crimson Tide in 2016 and earned a reputation as one of the top true freshmen in the nation, not only on the offensive line but across all positions. He was selected as a Freshman All-American by USA Today and ESPN and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team by the conference coaches while earning second team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press last season. The Folsom, Calif., native helped the Tide rank 16th nationally and first in the SEC in scoring offense (38.8 ppg), 12th nationally and second in the league in rushing offense (245.0 ypg) and 34th in the nation in total offense (455.3 ypg). He finished with 29 knockdown blocks on the year.
The Outland Trophy has been presented annually since 1946 by the Football Writers Association of America to recognize the top interior lineman in college football. The award is named in honor of All-America offensive lineman John Outland of Penn. The 2017 winner will be announced at the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show in December.