“It was just a great moment for everybody to know that we put everything out on the floor and that we had no regrets,” senior Geralen Stack-Eaton said. “It’s just an amazing feeling to know that we’ve won another national championship.” “I couldn’t be more proud of our athletes,” head coach Sarah Patterson said. “We really had a great night.” Patterson had won five national championships before Saturday, but none had ever come in consecutive years. The win also ties Patterson with legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, who won six national championships as head football coach. “I just feel like the gymnastics program is a small part of the rich history and tradition of the University of Alabama,” Patterson said. “And I could not be more proud to be a part of it.”
During the semifinals, it was the balance beam that got the Tide started off strong, and it was the balance beam ending the finals that got the Tide to its sixth title. Seniors Geralen Stack-Eaton and Ashley Priess finished up the competition for Alabama. Last year, Priess sat out the season with two hurt ankles, and it came down to her final beam routine to win the championship. “As it was coming down to the end and I knew that it was (Florida’s) Kytra Hunter on floor, and Ashley Priess was going on the balance beam, and I knew it came down to that routine,” Patterson said. “To have her step in this year and lead with Geralen, I couldn’t be more proud of that moment.”
Just as it did a year ago in Cleveland, the meet came down to the last rotation and the last gymnasts of the two teams on the floor exercise and balance beam. Last year, Alabama closed out UCLA on the floor exercise, winning with an overall score of 197.650. This year, Alabama was on the balance beam with No. 1 seed Florida on the floor exercise. Florida finished before the Tide, just .025 ahead of UCLA’s 197.750, and waiting to see what Priess would score to know if it would take home its first title. A 9.875 by Priess would tie the Gators, and anything better would win. Priess left no doubt, tying her career-best of 9.95.
How do you put into perspective the enormity of senior Ashley Priess delivering a 9.95 on the balance beam to put the Crimson Tide over the top? Imagine Terrence Cody blocking that last-second field goal in 2009, not against Tennessee in the regular season but against Texas in the BCS National Championship Game. Picture Barry Krauss stonewalling Penn State's Mike Guman in the 1979 Sugar Bowl, not with six minutes left in the fourth quarter but on the game's final snap. Now how do you find some context for the historic nature of Patterson leading her team past Florida and UCLA with little room and no time to spare? It was impressive when Saban and the Alabama football program won their second national championship in three years in January. Patterson and her Alabama gymnastics program just went back-to-back with NCAA titles. It was unparalleled when Bryant and his Alabama football program won six national championships. Patterson and her program just added the sixth national title of her career.
“It was extremely humbling, but I was so proud at the same time. The team battled that adversity of me not being able to contribute at all. I think that instilled a lot of confidence in our team. I think the two years built on each other.” One could point to her injury helping build depth for Alabama, but coach Sarah Patterson would have much rather have won last year with her than without. “Without a doubt, you are one of the top two gymnasts on the team, and when your team wins without you, it hurts,” Patterson said. “I knew that. We used the fall to lift her up and she responded. She was on fire the entire season.”
The second ranked Alabama softball team secured its seventh straight series victory over No. 13 Georgia with a 6-4 win Saturday afternoon at Jack Turner Stadium. With the victory, the Crimson Tide improves to 42-4 overall and 19-3 in Southeastern Conference play. The Bulldogs drop to 35-12 on the year and 13-9 in league action. Senior Amanda Locke got the job done in the circle and at the plate as she tossed her longest outing since her freshman season in 2009. The right-hander went 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on 10 hits while striking out five. At the plate, Locke batted 2-for-4, with a home run and three RBI. The Mesquite, Texas native batted .545 in the series with two home runs and six RBI. Sophomore Jackie Traina earned her second save of the season as a three-run seventh inning spoiled what would have been just the third seven inning complete game for Locke in her career.
The date was April 26, 2008, when the National Football League Draft came and went, then lasted through April 27, too, without a single University of Alabama name called. The date, less than two years later, was Jan. 7, 2010. On that day, in the BCS Championship Game, Alabama fielded a team with a probable 11 first-round draft choices - maybe more, depending on the future development of a couple of players. Six members of that team - Rolando McClain, Kareem Jackson, Julio Jones, James Carpenter, Marcell Dareus and Mark Ingram - are already in the NFL as first-rounders. As many as five of their teammates are poised to join them later this week, and while the vagaries of "falling stock" might put one of those prospects into the second round, most draft experts don't think so. By the time the 2013 draft wraps up, 20 members of that team will probably have been drafted, with 11 first-rounders.
The NFL draft is getting closer, but exactly what may happen when it starts is not getting any clearer. While a couple of things may be pretty well known (like the first two picks), everything from then on is open to many possibilities. One of the latest things to emerge, seemingly out of nowhere, is the buzz around the interwebs that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have suddenly seized on Mark Barron as a first round draft target. This could result in a trade up by the Pats to get ahead of the Dallas Cowboys, since Barron is increasingly seen as someone the Cowboys have on their short list of possibilities at the number 14 spot.
Q: What would have to happen for all five Alabama players not to go in the first round? Would you also touch on some of the other later round guys such as Josh Chapman, Marquis Maze and those guys?
MEL KIPER, JR.: You could get great odds on that. It’s not happening. There’s no chance of that happening. I would think there’s a much better chance of four of those five going in the first. There’s no chance of none of the five. There’s no chance of only two of the five because I think Richardson is a lock, Barron is a lock. They’re top ten guys. Richardson is in the top five. Barron is in the top 10 to 15. So those two are elite. You’re talking about elite prospects in this draft. So those are two guarantees. After that, Hightower is a borderline first, Upshaw is a borderline first, Kirkpatrick I think is going to go in the first or probably say between 20 and 32. So at the end of the day, probably four go. Maybe one doesn’t. At the worst you’ll probably have three, and then you could have, like I said, up to five. Upshaw is a good football player. I think people just don’t know where to play him. You talk to some teams, they say, well, he’s only a defensive end. He’s 280, he can only be a defensive end. Then others say, well, he’s 6’1″ and a half and he’s got short arms, he can’t be a defensive end, he’s going to have to be a linebacker. But he’s 280 and he’s not that explosive. I compare him to LaMarr Woodley. LaMarr Woodley wasn’t even a first round draft choice himself. So this notion that everybody loved LaMarr Woodley is ridiculous; it wasn’t true. LaMarr Woodley didn’t go until the second round. So for Courtney Upshaw, I still think because he’s a good football player and played for Nick — and I think Nick helps these guys in terms of their preparation and playing on a great team, and they probably all help each other. But the bottom line is I could see all five going in the first. Like I say, at worst probably four of these guys. And the other kids, Maze in the return game, the guy could be your fifth receiver. He can help you as a late-round pick. Menzie’s speed, there’s a lack of catch-up ability that hurts him, could project inside to safety, good football player, though. He could end up in the late rounds. He’ll make a team; he’ll get helped by playing for Nick Saban at Alabama. He may end up being a fifth-round pick despite the lack of great recovery speed. Maze — I think Miller’s a sixth or seventh round. Chapman, I think the injury hurt him, but I think as a nose tackle you can do some things scheme wise with him the way Nick did. I think he could end up being maybe a fourth-, fifth-round guy. All those guys, they tend to help — I think playing for Nick Saban helps these guys in that round of say three through seven, and it may give them a half a round bump up, because people love the fact they’re coached up so well, basically pro coaching, and they’re so much more prepared for what the NFL is going to have to offer. So those kids will benefit from their career at Alabama playing for Nick Saban.
"We went really hard out there, but we could do better" means I feel sorry for them when I get them alone, because I thought their effort sucked. When Pantoni is done with them come Monday morning, they're going to wish they had been taken prisoner on Corregidor and been a charter member of the Bataan Death March Club. We all pray that we don't hear that phrase, for the sake of the team. O/U on hearing this phrase: 2.5 times