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January 19, 2012TUSCALOOSA | Although the University of Alabama basketball team fell to Vanderbilt on Thursday night, the fans at Coleman Coliseum had something to cheer for at halftime when Barrett Jones was presented with the 2011 Awards and Recognition Association Sportsmanship Award.
The award is given to the Division I player who best personifies the spirit of sportsmanship in college football.
"I think sportsmanship is something that's really important, not only to me, but also our team," Jones said. "I think Coach (Nick) Saban does a really, really good job of instilling that in us and instilling that we need to play with class. That's something that's important to our team."
The award was presented to Jones by former Crimson Tide head coach Gene Stallings, who was a part of the selection committee. Stallings, best known for leading Alabama to the 1992 national championship, received a standing ovation in front of the UA faithful.
"It's tough to play on the offensive line, especially when he can play several positions," Stallings said. "You just can't realize how important that is to a coach to have a good football player that can play at more than one spot. He's been able to do that to help the University of Alabama."
Jones has also made a significant impact off the field. The Alabama offensive lineman helped with the tornado relief efforts in Tuscaloosa. He's made two trips down to Haiti to volunteer his service, and he's one of the leaders of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
"I don't know where Barrett gets all the energy to do the things that he's done," Stalling said. "He was involved in the tornado relief. He was one of the first ones to volunteer and go out and help. He's a team leader on his football team. Coach Saban appointed him as one of the leaders."
For Jones, it's not the first honor he's received for his efforts this season. The unanimous first-team All-American has also won the Outland Trophy as the nation's top interior lineman and the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the top offensive lineman in the Southeastern Conference.
"I feel very blessed," Jones said. "I've had the opportunity this year to get a lot of different honors. I think a lot of that is attributed to being on a really good team, so I'm very blessed to have great teammates and great coaches."
Reach Greg Ostendorf at email@example.com.