Seven Alabama players make watch lists

Linebacker Nico Johnson had 47 tackles and 6.5 for loss last season. Kelly Lambert/US Presswire

In what's becoming a recurring theme, Monday began with two more University of Alabama players being added to preseason watch lists. This time it was Nico Johnson and C.J. Mosley spots on the Butkus Award 2012 Collegiate Finalists. More than 50 college players were nominated for the award that is handed out annually to the country's top linebacker. Last year, the Butkus Foundation honored Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly with the award.

Johnson is the Crimson Tide's top returning tackler from a year ago. He finished the 2011-12 season fourth overall on the team with 47 tackles. He also had 6.5 tackles for loss.

Mosley, who is returning after a dislocated hip in the national championship game last season, figures to play a pivotal role in the UA defense with both Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower off to begin their careers in the NFL. The rising junior finished seventh on the team in tackles with 37. He also two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss.

Hightower and Upshaw finished No. 2 and 3, respectively, in the final Butkus Award voting. Notre Dame's Manti Te'o finished fourth, Nebraska's Lavonte David finished fifth and Georgia's Jarvis Jones received one first place vote and finished sixth overall.

The Rotary Lombardi Award watch list was also released Monday with several Alabama players making the cut for the annual award handed out to the country's best offensive lineman, defensive lineman or linebacker.

Once again, Mosley and Johnson made the cut. Joining them were UA offensive linemen Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack. Defensive lineman Jesse Williams also made the list.

The linemen and linebackers weren't the only ones garnering attention to start the week. The quarterbacks got their moment as the Manning Award watch list was announced Monday. Alabama junior AJ McCarron was one of five SEC quarterbacks to make the cut, along with Tennessee's Tyler Bray, Missouri's James Franklin, Georgia's Aaron Murray and Arkansas' Tyler Wilson.

McCarron threw for 2,634 yards and 16 touchdowns in his first season starting under center. He completed 66.8 percent of his passes and tossed just five interceptions.