But Barron is mostly the strong, silent type. He does interviews fairly infrequently and is hardly loquacious when he does, reminiscent of former teammate and current Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain.
"Mark’s my cousin but that’s exactly how he is all the time," linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. "He kind of keeps to himself, he’s not a big guy that likes to be around a lot of people. It’s kind of like how Rolando was. He kind of keeps to himself and watches film all the time. That’s just how he is."
Hightower calls him perhaps the team’s most respected player because of his on-the-field achievements but also "the way he knows the play book."
"The way we all come to him whenever we have a question about a coverage or a play. He’s always there," Hightower said. Even when coach (Nick) Saban’s not there, coach Saban goes to Mark and talks to Mark about some things. Mark will confirm it with us. It’s always good having Mark back there."
Barron is back in full force, ready to cap off a stellar collegiate career. "He hasn't winced once, had one issue or problem, not reached out to slow the ball, not reach up or jump to catch the ball, he doesn't have any issues with that, I mean, at all," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I think you could ask him. I shouldn't speak for him, but put it this way: I haven't seen any issues, he hasn't complained about anything and I've asked him several times if he's had any issues or problems, and it's like, why are we talking about this?"
"When you look at the turnover stats, it's a little misleading because we had a lot of interceptions, but we did not force many fumbles," Smart said. "That's usually indicative of big contact, and people ripping the ball out. We have to improve sacks and tackles for loss." In all, Alabama opponents dropped 20 fumbles -- nine of which were forced -- but Alabama recovered just four of the loose balls. One came on special teams, so the defense could be credited with three. North Carolina State led the nation with 20 fumbles recovered, while only Utah State had fewer than Alabama with three.
Ohio State denied a contention from Terrelle Pryor's lawyer that the former Buckeyes quarterback told the NCAA in May about additional violations he committed while at the school. Cornwell told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that Pryor admitted his mentor, Ted Sarniak, gave him and his mother cash and helped with car payments. After a 2008 NCAA investigation into Pryor's recruitment, Sarniak, a family friend, was told he could no longer give Pryor money or gifts.
If the assertions are true, the alleged conduct at the University of Miami is an illustration of the need for serious and fundamental change in many critical aspects of college sports. This pertains especially to the involvement of boosters and agents with student-athletes.
"If I was Alabama, I would conduct my own internal inquiry in conjunction with the enforcement staff," said Michael Buckner, a Florida attorney who counsels schools about compliance and has represented several in NCAA cases. "If there are alleged activities going on with current staff members at other schools, are they continuing those activities at Alabama? Alabama can't afford any significant allegations at this point since they're on probation."
Harris County DE Jordan Jenkins is another elite Georgia talent that is rumored to be Alabama's to lose. He has Alabama and Florida as his top two, with UGA and Auburn battling it out for No. 3
"I don't think he's produced at (a five-star) level to this point," Bob Jones coach Kevin Rose said. "That's what we hope to get this season. He had a good year last season, but I don't think he ever got in shape coming off surgery." Ragland won't argue. He didn't play much tight end last season because the Patriots needed him at linebacker "first and foremost," Rose said, and Ragland wasn't physically ready to play both positions. That's changed. He has shed a little more than 20 pounds and is now a firm 238. "I'd say he's in the best shape he's been in since we've been here," said Rose, who enters his third season. "He's got an NFL body and NFL athleticism. Anybody can see that, but he's also got an NFL mentality. He goes about it the right way. He's not arrogant."
Castille signed as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals in 2007. He is a free agent now after completing a two-year stint with the Kansas City Chiefs. He's completing his recovery from off-season knee surgery. "I blew my knee out at Alabama," he said. "I've just been getting some things cleaned up from that — scar tissue, stuff like that. In about a month, I hope to get back with a team and get my fifth year under my belt."
Chick-fil-A in Northport, the franchisee behind the restaurant’s location at 1620 McFarland Blvd., announced on Tuesday that it will be serving food from two Bryant-Denny Stadium concession stands during University of Alabama home football games. The first location will be on the west lower concourse of the stadium near Gates 15-19 and will be dedicated solely to Chick-fil-A. That stand will offer Chick-fil-A original chicken sandwiches, waffle fries and fudge-nut brownies. The second location will be in the student section near Gate 29 where a few Chick-fil-A items will be offered in addition to other food.