"We played in a very difficult defense, first of all," Barron said. "We did a lot of different schemes. My role was, as far as communicating, I had a lot to do with that on the back end. And I felt like sometimes, I brought some energy to it with the hits I make and things of that nature. I did a lot of different things." He played strong safety last year and free safety this year, so that’s a plus. But listen to this answer on why he chose Bama. "That’s something I knew when I first decided to go to Bama," said Barron, explaining why he’s NFL ready. "We had a complex defense, an NFL-type scheme. So, going into to that, I already knew it was going to prepare me for the next level, so that was one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Alabama. I knew that going in and I feel like that has prepared me for the next level."
Courtney Upshaw, Alabama (6-1, 272) -- Anyone playing in Nick Saban's defense is going to learn to do different things, and Upshaw pointed out his increasing skill set in his combine media session. "We had a nickel package where I played a 4-3 as the end, away from the tight end, in a five-technique, hand-on-the-ground, dropping out of a three-point stance in coverage if the D-end had to. So I'm real comfortable with doing that. I did a little of that at the Senior Bowl with the Redskins. We played an odd front where I was also an end, but with three down linemen, so I'm real comfortable playing with my hand in the dirt."
Chapman explained how he actually played on a shredded knee and was still was a beast. "Just had to keep rolling," said Chapman, explaining how he played with the injury. "It was difficult at the time. I knew when I found out my ACL was torn vs. Florida, it was just… man, it kinda had my mind down. But at the same time, there was a little stability in there, and they said I could fix it or keep on going. But if I kept going, it was limited reps. So tape the knee, brace it up to a tee and it was, I mean, as long as I keep going, I could keep going."
"The game is becoming a spacing game, with more spread sets," Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "The nickel back over the last four years for us has actually played more snaps than our third linebacker ... and even now you see six DBs and even seven DBs out of the field."
If DeQuan Menzie had his way, he would be preparing for spring football practice at Alabama. On Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine, the former Crimson Tide cornerback says he wanted to redshirt in 2010 after tearing an Achilles tendon less than five months before the season began. He had just transferred to Alabama from junior college, where he suffered the serious injury in a pickup basketball game. Menzie said he met with coach Nick Saban before preseason camp started and was told it was in his best interest to practice. Saban saw how the recuperating player performed, "and he he just threw me out there," Menzie said.
Do not draft the running back. Even if the running back is an elite option like Alabama's Trent Richardson. The numbers just aren't worth it. No matter how compelling a running back like Adrian Peterson might look, it's easy to forget that Peterson has been sitting at home in recent seasons while other teams with lesser running games make it to the Super Bowl. The same could go for Richardson. Unless your team has more important holes filled, Richardson should not be the early first round choice.
Throughout the 2011 season, Alabama coaches helped Hightower, Upshaw and Mark Barron keep track of who made the most plays. Included in the tally: sacks, interceptions, big hits, fumbles forced and recovered, tackles for loss. Players also lost points for negative plays. Hightower won. "Don’t let Mark Barron tell you no different," Hightower said. "He’s going to tell you he won last year, but last year don’t count, it’s this year that counts."
On how playing for Nick Saban prepared him: "Coach Saban tried to teach us to be great, to prepare to be great in the league. He got everybody ready. He's a phenomenal coach, and I was glad to be a player for him."
Hightower's transcendent play in the crucible of SEC competition puts him on a short list of players who are likely to make an immediate impact in the NFL. He is of particular interest to the Steelers given their need at inside linebacker — the team may part ways with 15th-year veteran James Farrior — and the reality of this year's draft. "It's not a real deep group at inside 'backer," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said.
Who did not catch: Alabama receiver Marquis Maze struggled holding onto the ball. He caught only 9 of 14 passes while running through the gauntlet drill with quarterbacks firing passes at him in rapid succession, seven per drill over two drills. He dropped one pass on a hitch route and watched another go through his hands without making contact.
"People ask us ‘Why aren't we fighting?'" LSU cornerback Ron Brooks said Sunday. "That was in college, they got us, they beat us fair and square and there's no hating going on out here. We're all here for the same goal."
This has become the year of tough love in college basketball. From Mick Cronin's embarrassment at the Cincinnati-Xavier fight to Anthony Grant's Alabama suspensions, the revolt continues against irresponsible players. It's like these coaches banded together. Kudos if they did. If the revolution needs a motto, someone should bronze Grant's words from his written statement before a loss without four suspended players: "Talent is a gift, but character is a choice."
What a difference a week makes. The University of Alabama baseball team made easy work of Arkansas-Pine Bluff Sunday, 9-3, to complete a sweep of the Golden Lions, evening its record at 3-3 after being swept to open the season by Florida Atlantic a week earlier. Offensive production proved to be the biggest improvement as the Crimson Tide scored 30 runs for the series. Second baseman Kenny Roberts led UA Sunday with two hits, two runs and two steals. "I think that's something we can do with this team is have a pretty good running game. Kenny was good. He was able to pressure the defense," said UA coach Mitch Gaspard. "That's what we want out of our offense, is to pressure guys with the running game, hit-and-run, the bunting game, all those things. But we've also got some physicality in the lineup too, with Kenny and some other guys who can drive balls in the gaps and occasionally hit the ball out of the park."
The Crimson Tide used its highest road score of the season to beat the Tigers and go undefeated in regular-season Southeastern Conference competition for the first time since 1991. The only unbeaten and untied team in the nation, Alabama improved to 9-0-0 overall and 6-0-0 in SEC competition. "More than anything else, we kept our mental focus tonight, we didn't drift, and we did what we had to do to win the meet," Patterson said. "A 197 on the road is awesome. I thought we earned every tenth of a point and LSU did a great job, producing one of their best scores of the season. I think that's just how great the SEC is."
The No. 2 ranked Alabama softball team claimed the Easton Bama Bash Presented by Drash championship by run-ruling Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, 8-0, Sunday afternoon at Rhoads Stadium. With the five wins over the weekend, the Crimson Tide improves to 13-0 on the season. "Whenever you can get a shutout in softball in 2012 it’s a great day," Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. "The defense played great and the first inning was awesome. To come out and go through the order and put seven runs up, you have to feel good about it."
Krystle Schade cleared 6 feet, 2 inches to win the women's high jump for the University of Alabama track and field team on the final day of the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships. Schade's jump matched the SEC meet record and broke the UA school record.