Alabama football juniors Minkah Fitzpatrick, Calvin Ridley and Bo Scarbrough, along with sophomore Jalen Hurts were named to the 2017 Walter Camp Award Watch List on Friday.
The foursome are a part of the 40-man list from around the country, with Alabama’s total of four candidates leading all FBS schools. Running back Derrick Henry became the first Alabama player to win the award when he took home the hardware in 2015.
Fitzpatrick made the move to safety midway through the season in 2016 and will direct the Tide defense in 2017. He has returned four interceptions for touchdowns during his career to set the Alabama all-time mark for pick-sixes. Fitzpatrick was a first team All-American by the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association and Pro Football Focus in 2016 and earned second-team honors from Walter Camp and The Sporting News. He led last season’s team in interceptions (6) and interception return yards (186) as a sophomore and his 186 return yards ranked near the top nationally while his six picks tied for seventh in the FBS.
Hurts became the first freshman to start at quarterback under Nick Saban when he took control of the Crimson Tide offense in the second game of the 2016 season and finished 13-1 as the Tide’s starter. He was selected as a Freshman All-American by USA Today and ESPN and earned SEC Offensive Player of the Year accolades from the conference coaches and the Associated Press. Hurts also garnered SEC Freshman of the Year (coaches) and SEC Newcomer of the Year (Associated Press) accolades. Hurts threw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns and completed 62.8 percent of his passes with a 139.1 quarterback rating. He also set school records for touchdown responsibility (36) and quarterback rushing yards (954).
Ridley had 72 catches for 769 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore. Thirty-nine of his receptions went for a first down or a touchdown, and he had 21 explosive receptions of 15 yards or more to lead the Tide last season. In his first season with the Tide, Ridley set Alabama freshman records for receptions (89) and receiving yards (1,045). Ridley has caught at least five passes in 20 of his 30 career games at UA and already ranks in the Alabama career top-10 in receptions (161), touchdown receptions (14) and receiving yards (1,814).
Scarbrough provided a power option in the Crimson Tide backfield as a sophomore. He rushed 109 times for 719 yards and nine rushing scores in 2016 with 42 of his rushes going for a first down or a touchdown. Scarbrough finished the season with some big performances, rushing 46 times for 364 yards and six touchdowns over his final three contests to average 7.9 yards per carry (SEC Championship, CFP Semifinal and CFP National Championship). Scarbrough earned Offensive MVP honors for his performance in the College Football Playoff Semifinal against Washington, rushing for 180 yards and two touchdowns against the Huskies.
The Walter Camp Player of the Year Award has been presented annually since 1967 by the Walter Camp Foundation to recognize the nation’s most outstanding player in college football. The award is named in honor of Walter Camp, “The Father of American Football,” who is credited with numerous innovations in the game.
The watch list will be narrowed to 10 semi-finalists in mid-November. The 2017 Walter Camp Player of the year recipient, which is voted on by the 130 NCAA Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors, will be announced on December 7.