9/23/17 MFB vs Vanderbilt
Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (29)
Photo by Kent Gidley

Evans and Fitzpatrick earn first-team honors; Bozeman, Payne, Scott and Williams named to second team

WACO, Texas – The Alabama Crimson Tide landed six players on the 2017 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) All-America Team, the association announced Wednesday.

Senior linebacker Rashaan Evans and junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick were first-team selections while senior center Bradley Bozeman, junior defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne, senior punter JK Scott and sophomore offensive lineman Jonah Williams were named to the second team.

Fitzpatrick was a first-team AFCA honoree in 2016 while Scott was a second-team pick a season ago. The selection also secures unanimous 2017 All-America honors for Fitzpatrick, who was also a first-team selection by Walter Camp, the Football Writers Association of America, the Associated Press and The Sporting News this season.

The six selections for the Tide equal the most for one team in the 73-year history of the AFCA All-America Team (2003 – Oklahoma). Alabama has now had 70 players honored a total of 74 times by the AFCA, the most of any program in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

One of the leaders of the Tide defense, Evans ranks third on the team in tackles with 57 stops, leads the Tide with 10.5 tackles for loss and is tied for the team lead in quarterback hurries with seven. The Auburn, Ala., native ranks second on the team in sacks with five and has added two pass breakups, a forced fumble and one fumble recovery despite missing two games due to injury this season.

The 2017 winner of Chuck Bednarik and Jim Thorpe awards, Fitzpatrick is the Tide’s fifth-leading tackler with 52 stops and has seen action at every position in the secondary for the Tide this season. He has also recorded six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception, seven pass breakups, three quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and a blocked kick in 2017.

In his second season as the Crimson Tide’s starting center, Bozeman has graded out at an average of 85.6 percent as a senior with 16 knockdown blocks and just seven missed assignments in 724 snaps (99.0 percent success rate). He has allowed just two sacks and four pressures this season and has blocked for six 100-yard rushing games this year, giving him 17 in his 28 career starts at center.

A bruising run-stopper along the Tide defensive front, Payne has totaled 45 tackles, 37 of which have come against the run, one sack, a team-high eight quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.

Scott has punted 42 times in 2017 and is averaging 43.4 yards per kick and owns a net average of 42.4 ypp. He has placed 52.3 percent of his kicks inside the 20 (22 of 42), which leads the nation. The senior also leads the country in fair catch percentage at 54.8 (23 of 42) and fewest punts returned (three returns for two yards). For his career, Scott is averaging 45.8 yards per punt in his career on 231 attempts, an average that is tops all time at Alabama.

A starter since the first game of his freshman season in 2016, Williams also received third-team All-America recognition from the Associated Press this season. He has posted has 20 knockdown blocks in his sophomore campaign and has posted an average grade of 86.9 percent while surrendering just half of a sack and four pressures in 734 offensive snaps. The Folsom, Calif., native has blocked for 17 100-yard rushers in his two-year career, including six in 2017.