Football Writers Association of America Oct. 20, 2015
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson
214-870-6516
Tide defensive backs share honor
Bookmark and Share  
ALABAMA TEAMMATES ARE AUTONATION
NATIONAL DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

DALLAS (FWAA) Alabama's defense rewrote part of the school's record book, returning three interceptions for touchdowns and outscoring its offense in a 41-23 win at Texas A&M. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Eddie Jackson, teammates in the secondary, combined for four interceptions and all three scoring returns to earn the AutoNation National Defensive Players of the Week honor for games the weekend of Oct. 17, as selected by the Football Writers Association on America

Fitzpatrick, a 6-1, 195-pound freshman cornerback from Old Bridge, N.J., became the only player in Alabama history (in records they have back to 1948) to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game. His first pick and return of 33 yards to the end zone gave Alabama a 7-0 lead. His 55-yard interception and touchdown return provided the Crimson Tide's final score that put the game out of reach with 5:18 left.

Jackson, a 6-0, 194-pound junior safety from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., also had two interceptions in the game, and returned one of them 93 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give Alabama with a 28-6 lead. The 93-yard return is the third-longest in school history. Jackson also had a 26-yard return on his other interception to the Texas A&M 28-yard line that set up another score. Jackson's 119 return yards are the most return yards in a game by an Alabama player.

The Crimson Tide's 207 interception return yards is an Alabama single-game record, and the third-most in SEC history, and the most since Tennessee had 214 against South Carolina in 1971.

"The four interceptions were huge in the game," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "Three scores on defense is unprecedented and probably some kind of record. Minkah (Fitzpatrick) having two is fantastic for a freshman. The thing I'm probably most proud of with our players is when we lost the momentum of the game in the second quarter, when we dominated the game in the first quarter, the players really responded well in the second half to go out there and compete."

As part of AutoNation's history of charitable involvement, AutoNation will donate $1,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) in Fitzpatrick's and Jackson's names. This charitable college football initiative culminates with the AutoNation Cure Bowl, a new post-season NCAA football game that kicks off bowl season at the Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla., and will be aired by CBS Sports Network. The aptly named AutoNation Cure Bowl also serves as a fund raiser for the BCRF, CharityWatch's only A+ rated breast cancer organization in the country.

Fitzpatrick
Jackson

"We want to celebrate the very best of college football, while also helping to raise awareness for the importance of finding a cure for cancer," says AutoNation CMO Marc Cannon. "This season-long partnership with the FWAA, leading up to the AutoNation Cure Bowl, puts a spotlight on a cause that we're determined to tackle."

"In our 75th season of existence, this a marvelous platform to get our players and the team of the week series excellent exposure as well as helping AutoNation in its effort to fight cancer and contribute to the educational funds of deserving student-athletes," said FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. "It is very exciting to be able to help our organization as well as others in this splendid effort."

The FWAA National Defensive Player of the Week and National Team of the Week, both sponsored by AutoNation for the first time this year, have been determined collectively by a group of FWAA officers and the FWAA All-America Committee for several years. The AutoNation FWAA Offensive Player of the Week has been added this season. Nominations are taken from game performance all over the country each week and then those nominations are reviewed by the FWAA, which determines the actual recipients.

AutoNation is also the new sponsor of the 2015 FWAA All-America Team, which will be comprised of 26 first-team and 26 second-team selections as nominated by the membership and chosen by the FWAA All-America Committee. The 2015 AutoNation FWAA All-America Team will be announced at the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 19.

Coincidentally, the 2002 and '03 FWAA All-America teams were honored on the floor of the very same Citrus Bowl Stadium. Over the years, the FWAA's All-America teams have been honored in different locations and on various media platforms during the second-longest continuous annual selection of an All-America team in major college football.

Additionally, the AutoNation 75th Anniversary FWAA All-America Team, which was announced in August, will be celebrated during the 2015 season. That team includes players selected from past FWAA All-America teams dating to 1944, three years after the organization was formed in 1941. The AutoNation 75th Anniversary FWAA All-America Team is composed of three teams of 25 players each, with all eight decades, starting in the 1940s, represented among the playing eras of members on the team. It includes 56 National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Famers. Forty-one schools are represented on the team that was selected by an FWAA Blue Ribbon Committee after taking into consideration nominations from the membership.

About AutoNation, Inc.:
AutoNation is transforming the automotive retail industry through bold leadership. We deliver a peerless automotive retail experience through our customer-focused sales and service processes. Owning and operating 293 new vehicle franchises, which sell 35 new vehicle brands across 15 states, AutoNation is America's largest automotive retailer, with state-of-the-art operations and the ability to leverage economies of scale that benefit the customer. As an indication of our leadership position in our industry, AutoNation is a component of the S&P 500 Index.

About the AutoNation Cure Bowl:
The AutoNation Cure Bowl a new post-season NCAA football game whose net proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The AutoNation Cure Bowl takes place December 19 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, and will be broadcast by CBS Sports Network. The bowl is scheduled to involve teams from the American Athletic and Sun Belt conferences.

About the Football Writers Association of America:
Founded in 1941, the FWAA consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2015 AutoNation National Defensive Players of the Week
Week of Sept. 5: Karl Joseph, West Virginia
Week of Sept. 12: Kai Nacua, BYU
Week of Sept. 19: RJ Williamson, Michigan State
Week of Sept. 26: Jeremy Cash, Duke
Week of Oct. 3: Eric Striker, Oklahoma
Week of Oct. 10: Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
Week of Oct. 17: Minkah Fitzpatrick and Eddie Jackson, Alabama
Week of Oct. 24: Cameron Smith, USC
Week of Oct. 31: Quenton Meeks, Stanford
Week of Nov. 7: Chad Whitener, Oklahoma State
Week of Nov. 14: Elandon Roberts, Houston
Week of Nov. 21: Ejuan Price, Pittsburgh
Week of Nov. 28: Tyler Matakevich, Temple
Week of Dec. 5: Tarris Batiste, Georgia State