Tide's Andre Smith wins Outland Trophy

Saban named national coach of year
Friday, December 12, 2008
Sports Reporter

TUSCALOOSA — Junior left tackle Andre Smith received the 63rd Outland Trophy on Thursday night, making him the first Alabama player since Mobile's Chris Samuels in 1999 to be named college football's best interior lineman.

Smith was honored at the Home Depot ESPN College Football Awards, broadcast live from Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

"I think it helped to play on a dominating offensive line like we had, that opened up holes for our running game," Smith said. "I am proud to win this award, though I'd still like to be playing for a national championship."

Smith — a former blue-chip recruit from Huffman who has missed only one start during his three-year college career — beat fellow finalists Michael Oher of Ole Miss and Duke Robinson of Oklahoma.

Oher and Smith are friends who roomed together during a preseason photo shoot as members of Playboy's All-America team. The Outland Trophy is awarded by the Football Writers Association of America, which voted differently from SEC coaches, who chose Oher over Smith for the conference's Jacobs Trophy.

Smith said he "was surprised to hear my name called because either one of those other two guys could have won the award."

"There are a lot more guys who get the reputation than actually live up to the billing," Alabama coach Nick Saban said of Smith.

"He started as a freshman and has improved every year. I don't see them all, and I'm not saying he is better than anybody else, but it's hard for me to think there is any other offensive lineman who has played any better than him this season."

ESPN's Lee Corso interviewed Smith's parents, asking Smith's father Andre Sr. when he realized his son's future in football.

"When he wanted to know what was the highest-paying position in football," Andre Sr. said with a laugh. "I told him left tackle."

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