HE IS THE MOST VERSATILE OFFENSIVE LINEMAN IN THE history of Alabama football, having started one national championship game at right guard, another at left tackle and now about to start another—on Jan. 7 against Notre Dame—at center. But what is most impressive about Barrett Jones, who won the Outland Trophy in 2011 and the Rimington Trophy this year? "Barrett is one of the true leaders on this team, he's our emotional center," says quarterback AJ McCarron. "He's so smart, and that has enabled him to play different positions for us. Without him, I don't think we'd have accomplished all that we have in the last few years. He's so valuable."
That was evident in the SEC championship game against Georgia. Though he suffered a left-foot injury in the first quarter that would later force him to use a crutch during the postgame celebration, Jones didn't miss a snap. And in the second half it was Jones, listed at 6' 5", 302 pounds, who neutralized the Bulldogs' 6' 3", 358-pound noseguard, John Jenkins, paving the way for Alabama to rush for 211 yards in the game's final 30 minutes.
"I may not be the biggest or fastest guy out there, but I like to think I have a good feel for angles and just figuring out ways to get the job done," says Jones, who probably weighs closer to 285 pounds.
A native of Germantown, Tenn., Jones, who graduated in August 2011 with an accounting degree and a perfect 4.0 GPA (he took graduate classes in accounting this fall), has started 48 games at Alabama; in 25 of those games a Crimson Tide tailback has run for at least 100 yards. Perhaps more impressive, Jones has missed only six blocking assignments in 606 snaps this season, according to the Alabama coaches. But in Tuscaloosa, Jones is especially revered for something that has nothing to do with football. In the aftermath of the April 27, 2011, tornado that decimated the town, he could be seen for weeks going street-to-street and house-to-house with a chain saw in his hands to help clear debris.
"Barrett is as fine a person as you're ever going to be around," says Nick Saban. "He's a good teammate. He's done a lot of things to really help others. He really has the right stuff."