Unnoticed Alabama hero

Published 8:50 pm Wednesday, October 15, 2008

TUSCALOOSA – Travis McCall’s role in No. 2 Alabama’s offense is pretty clear, even if it can go largely unnoticed by fans.

The Crimson Tide tight end is a blocking specialist and teammates say his importance to the offense stretches far beyond his two catches for 11 yards.

“Travis is probably the most underrated guy on our offense because he blocks like an offensive lineman and can get out and catch and do everything else,” quarterback John Parker Wilson said. “Travis is a huge part of our offense. He’s a great player.”

He just gets noticed less with fellow tight end Nick Walker becoming the Tide’s No. 2 receiver with 15 catches.

The 6-foot-2, 260-pound McCall’s labors don’t go unappreciated by teammates, though.

“I definitely notice it,” tailback Glen Coffee said. “I talk to him every day before practice and I’m like, ‘Travis, let’s go to work.’ I know how key he is to the grand scheme of things.”

McCall has started every game, playing both tight end and H-back on the Southeastern Conference’s top rushing team. He was one of the Tide’s offensive players of the week after helping pave the way for the team’s 328-yard rushing performance against Arkansas.

Wilson appreciates McCall for more than his blocking. Unlike other receivers, he never comes back to the huddle clamoring for the ball.

“He’s like the only guy that doesn’t do that,” Wilson said. “He’s like the only receiver that’s not (saying he’s) open every play.”

Wilson up for award

John Parker Wilson is one of 10 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented each year to the nation’s top senior quarterback.

Wilson has passed for 853 yards and six touchdowns this season. He is the Tide’s season and career leader in completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns and attempts.

Wilson said being a finalist for the honor was “a tremendous honor.”

“Johnny Unitas was one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, and to have my name mentioned along with his is something special,” Wilson said. “But we are only halfway through the season and there is a lot left to accomplish. I just want to go out there and help my team win football games and everything else will take care of itself.”