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January 1, 2011

Notebook: McElroy salutes fans during final exit

ORLANDO _ It probably didn't surprise many people that University of Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy got his own ovation from Crimson Tide fans when he was pulled from Saturday's Capital One Bowl.

That it came with roughly nine minutes remaining in the third quarter and Alabama up 35-0, was a little unexpected.

"It was kind of a surreal moment," he said. "I had to reflect briefly and it was nice to salute the fans because they make it special to come here. That's why I came here, to play for a passionate fan base and I wanted to make them proud."

McElroy completed 13 of 17 attempts for 220 yards and one touchdown, but the play he was asked about the most was junior wide receiver Julio Jones' end-around for a 35-yard touchdown when the quarterback made the last block.

"The one time I can probably get credit for making a physical play, it's because Julio set it up," he said, drawing laughter from reporters. "I'm surprised I didn't trip over myself going over the edge."

McElroy was one of the last players off the field at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium along with senior tight end Preston Dial.

"It was so emotional," said Dial, with reserve lineman David Ross enjoying the moment as well with "It was annihilation."

McElroy completed his career with his name in the Alabama record books numerous times, including:

SEASON PASSING YARDS
2,914 Greg McElroy, 219 of 309, 2010
2,846 John Parker Wilson, 255 of 372, 2007
2,707 John Parker Wilson, 216 of 379, 2006
2,507 Greg McElroy, 198 of 325, 2009
2,499 Brodie Croyle, 202 of 339, 2005

SEASON TOUCHDOWN PASSES
20 Greg McElroy 2010
18 John Parker Wilson 2007
17 John Parker Wilson 2006
17 Greg McElroy 2009

CAREER TOUCHDOWN PASSES
47 John Parker Wilson 2005-08
41 Brodie Croyle 2002-05
39 Greg McElroy 2007-present
35 Andrew Zow 1998-01
35 Mike Shula 1983-86

"We've had a lot of great players at the University of Alabama, and Greg is certainly a great player for us the last two years, but I would want to put him and his legacy as an University of Alabama football player as one of the greatest ambassadors who could ever represent the university," Coach Nick Saban said. "You talk about a lot of class personally, academically his achievements and accomplishments, and what he's been able to do on the field, not only with his performance but how he affected other people on the field, has to be right up there with the best and great ones."

Staying or going?

None of the underclassmen who could declare themselves eligible for the NFL Draft early gave an insight as to which way they're leaning.

"It's a tough decision, it's a life-changing decision," junior running back Mark Ingram said. "I'm going to talk with Coach Saban, my family, things like that in the next week or so and make a decision, what's best for me, come back to school or leaving.

"There are a lot of things you have to weigh. Staying and getting your degree."

Ingram, Jones and junior defensive end Marcell Dareus are all projected to be first-round selections.

Jones went as far as to tell reporters that he really hasn't made up his mind yet.

Records and leaders

In addition to McElroy, numerous players are now among Alabama's all-time leaders in numerous categories:

CAREER RECEPTIONS
194 DJ Hall, 2,923 yards, 2004-07
179 Julio Jones, 2,604 yards, 2008-present
152 Freddie Milons, 1,859 yards, 1998-01
132 David Bailey, 1,857 yards, 1969-71
117 Keith Brown, 1,863 yards, 2004-07

CAREER RECEIVING YARDS
2,923 DJ Hall, 194 catches, 2004-07
2,653 Julio Jones, 179 catches, 2008-present
2,070 Ozzie Newsome, 102 catches, 1974-77
1,859 Freddie Milons, 152 catches, 1998-01
1,857 David Bailey, 132 catches, 1969-71

SEASON RECEPTIONS
78 Julio Jones, 1,084 yards, 2010
67 DJ Hall, 1,005 yards, 2007
65 Freddie Milons, 733 yards, 1999
62 DJ Hall, 1,056 yards, 2006
61 David Palmer, 1,000 yards, 1993
58 Julio Jones, 924 yards, 2008

SESASON RECEIVING YARDS
1,133 Julio Jones, 78 catches, 2010
1,056 DJ Hall, 62 catches, 2006
1,005 DJ Hall, 67 catches, 2007
1,000 David Palmer, 61 catches, 1993
924 Julio Jones, 58 catches, 2008
820 Dennis Homan, 54 catches, 1967
804 Ozzie Newsome, 36 catches, 1977

CAREER PASSING YARDS
7,924 John Parker Wilson 2005-08
6,382 Brodie Croyle 2002-05
5,983 Andrew Zow 1998-01
5,689 Jay Barker 1991-94
5,471 Greg McElroy 2007-present
4,899 Scott Hunter 1968-70

CAREER RUSHING YARDS
3,565 Shaun Alexander, 727 attempts, 1996-99
3.420 Bobby Humphrey, 615, 1985-88
3,324 Kenneth Darby, 702, 2003-6
3,261 Mark Ingram, 572, 2008-present
2,741 Johnny Musso, 574, 1969-71

CAREER RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS
42 Mark Ingram, 2008-present
41 Shaun Alexander, 1996-99
34 Johnny Musso, 1969-71
33 Bobby Humphrey, 1985-88
29 Tony Nathan, 1975-78

SEASON INTERCEPTIONS
10 Hootie Ingram, 163 yards, 1952
8 Harry Gilmer, 79 yards, 1946
8 Robert Lester , 102 yards, 2010
7 Steve Higginbotham, 108 yards, 1971
7 Jeremiah Castille, 60 yards, 1982
7 Antonio Langham, 67 yards, 1993
7 Kevin Jackson, 44 yards, 1996
7 Mark Barron, 125 yards, 2009

Starters and injuries

Sophomore Nico Johnson started at middle linebacker and made Alabama's first defensive tackle for a 5-yard loss. Senior Luther Davis also stated at defensive end and was credited with three tackles including one for a loss.

Sophomore Will Lowery started at strongside safety for injured All-American Mark Barron, making him the 24th Alabama player to make his first collegiate start this season. He was credited with three tackles.

Sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower played for the first time without a brace after having knee surgery last year.

"It felt good," he said. "There were a couple of times the running back came up to try and cut-block me, but I played it well."

True freshman safety Jarrick Williams played in the dime package, ending any chance of a medical redshirt after sustaining a shoulder injury early in the season.

"We were trying not to make Sports Center," Saban said. "They converted three or four third downs in the first drive and Jarrick had something to do with every one of them, so rather than use my technique that I used on A.J. I did not want to make Sports Center again, so we were patient and let Kirby (Smart handle it). He settled down and played better. But it was a great experience for him and it will be good for his development."

By the numbers

Alabama made its record 58th bowl appearance and moved out of a tie with Southern California for more bowl wins in college football history with No. 32.

The Crimson Tide notched its third straight 10-win season for the first time since having four in a row from 1977-80 under Paul W. "Bear" Bryant.

Alabama is 14-5 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past three seasons and 9-3 against top 10 teams. The Tide's only loss against a top 10 team over the past two seasons was to No. 2 Auburn.

Alabama's 22 interceptions rank among the most in a single season. The Tide had 25 in 1979, and 24 in 2009, 1968, 1966 and 1952.
The 42 points was the second-biggest margin of victory in Alabama bowl history, trailing only the 1953 Orange Bowl, 61-6 over Syracuse. However, the six rushing touchdowns were a Crimson Tide bowl record, topping the four in last year's national championship game and the the same 1953 Orange Bowl.

The minus-48 rushing yards were the second-fewest in Alabama history, one short of the record of minus-49 yards against Houston in 1962.

The 28 points in the first half tied an Alabama bowl record (1983 Sun Bowl, 28-7 vs. SMU).

Tide-bits

Redshirt freshman A.J. McCarron on rumors that the loser of the quarterback competition in the spring could end up transferring: "It definitely could happen, I think, but that's nothing on my mind. I'm going in being a leader, I'm going to take this team and this role as if it's my team already. When we get to spring we're hitting the ground running. I've already talked to the receivers, had a meeting with Dont'a, we're going to get everything back to the way it was the summer when we won it."

McElroy on the development of game MVP Courtney Upshaw: "Courtney has always been physical. I remember this story, we were in fall camp and one of our biggest, toughest guys, fullback Baron Huber, got a concussion because of a head-on collision with Courtney. He's always been a play maker and athlete. I think now -- and I think when you play smart in this defense, it will put you in position to make plays and Courtney does such a good job playing his role, whether that's rushing the passer, being effective in the passing game, and things like that. He's done a great job and the progress is significant. He's just going to continue to improve and I'm looking forward to following him and seeing that development over the next six months."

Alabama didn't give Saban the Gatorade treatment after the game, but did to equipment manager Tank Conerly, who is retiring. ... Total paid attendance was 61,519. ... Pac-12 officials worked the game, with Greg Burks the referee and David Ames the replay official.


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