Julio Jones photo Southern Sports Media

Saban, Jones Honored by The Sporting News (via UA)
TUSCALOOSA — The honors continued to pour in for the Alabama football team as The Sporting News named its 2008 conference award winners on Monday.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban was selected as The Sporting News’ SEC Coach of the Year while Julio Jones was chosen as the publication’s SEC Freshman of the Year.

Saban led the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide to a 12-1 record and the SEC Western Division championship in his second year at the helm of the program. He set the Alabama record for the largest win increase from year one to year two by an Alabama head coach. The Crimson Tide won seven games in Saban’s first year, and then posted a 12-1 record this season, an increase of five wins. Saban was also named the 2008 Home Depot National Coach of the Year and was the 2008 SEC Coach of the Year by the Associated Press.

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Jones developed into a dominant force at wide receiver for Alabama as a true freshman out of Foley (Ala.) High School. He set school freshman records for receptions (51), yards (847) and touchdowns (4) while starting all 13 games for the Crimson Tide. Just the 11th true freshman to start a season opener for Alabama since freshmen became eligible again by the NCAA in 1972, Jones was also named the AP SEC Freshman of the Year and was a second-team All-SEC selection by the AP, The Sporting News and league coaches.

The Sporting News also honored Florida’s Tim Tebow as the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and the Gators’ Brandon Spikes as the Defensive Player of the Year. The Sporting News will name its All-Freshman team on Tuesday and its All-America team on Wednesday.

For a breakdown of the award winners from each conference around the country, visit www.sportingnews.com.