"(NFL officials) know coach Saban and they know coach Smart, and the fact that they gave me that much leeway in the national championship game against a big time team like that, kind of opened their eyes," Hightower said. Hightower feels he's resolved uncertainty about whether he would be moved to defensive end because of his speed. "All those questions are kind of in the past now about can I do it," he said. "It's more about am I going to be able to apply myself to learn a new playbook that's different from what I've known for four years. "The defense I played in at Alabama is a lot more complex than a lot of defenses that a number of defenses in the NFL. A lot of teams have told me that."
Ozzie Newsome, you could make a lot of Ravens fans happy Thursday. As the team's general manager, you have a chance to do something in this NFL draft that people around here have talked about forever. That's right, you have the chance to draft the eventual successor to Ray Lewis. How long have we been talking about finding his heir apparent? At least six or seven years, right? But now you've got a shot at this kid Dont'a Hightower, the big, high-impact linebacker from Alabama. And, yes, it might take some maneuvering to land him, which we'll get to in a moment. But you should go after him, Ozzie. Go after him hard. Don't let this kid get away.
NFL scouts and general managers are known for sometimes asking off the wall questions to draft prospects during the interview process, but Menzie said no one has asked him any question too strange. There is one question he fielded that did chap him a little bit, however. "The strangest one I got was somebody asked me if I could play safety," Menzie said. "I mean, I look like a safety (at 6 feet, 198 pounds) and I can play it." But after all the workouts and interviews, Menzie is looking forward to finding out what team he will play for this season. "I’m ready for it to be over," Menzie said. "I can’t wait until this weekend when I get the call and find out which team picks me. It’s an exciting time for me, and I’m ready to take that next step in my career."
3). You have Courtney Upshaw very high on your board, what do you like about him and does that mean you don’t think his big criticisms are justified?
When I look at first round talents, I need to see a guy that has developed the nuances of the game and has shown more than just flashes or situational ability. Upshaw is a developed inside and outside rusher, he’s unbelievably powerful in his rushes, he get sink low and drive with his legs as well as any rusher in the past few years of the draft. His size and lack of top closing speed are concerns, but neither outweigh his NFL-ready impact and the fact he’s a developed rusher combined with a physical specimen.
Upshaw is big, strong, quick, intense, productive, and yes, mean. Put him at right end and he will grow quickly into a double-digit sack producer. Put him at 3-4 and he will also provide plenty of sacks and disruption, and it will not be long before he also provides adequate pass coverage, so long as he is not asked to cover Ray Rice one-on-one. Upshaw will probably be long gone by the time the Steelers pick, but he is the kind of player the Steelers have had incredible success with over the years. With the Steelers, he would start his career as a situational pass rusher, then take over a starting job in his second or third season once he mastered the nuances of the playbook and his technique. He would become Harrison, or LaMarr Woodley. He should become just as good a player in many other systems. In most years, Upshaw would be a Top-10 pick. He probably won't be this year, but only because so many of the teams at the top of the draft board have other, more pressing needs.
Trent Richardson has heard all about the devalued status of the running back. Given his ability to slash, explode and stiff-arm, this does not sit well with the former Alabama star. One of a kind? Trent Richardson, celebrating an Oct. 15 touchdown for Alabama, could be the only running back selected in the NFL draft's first round. One of a kind? Trent Richardson, celebrating an Oct. 15 touchdown for Alabama, could be the only running back selected in the NFL draft's first round. BUY NFL TICKETS Sponsored Links "It bothers me a lot because we're getting pounded on every down," he says. "Even in practice they get to hit on us. … And it just takes a toll. Everyone needs a running back. But the value is not the same (as it once was), and it's crazy to us."
Richardson may be 5-foot-9 1/4 and 228 pounds, but the junior's powerful, punishing style has been his calling card since he reported for eighth grade football in Pensacola, Fla., standing 5-8 and 190 pounds. "He was bigger than the running backs we had in high school," said Derrick Boyd, Richardson's mentor, Escambia High School track and field coach. "When we got him out there, you knew he was destined to do great things. You could look at his body and see he was created to play football. "He showed up as a man-child and now they're calling him the beast."
"I don't want them to go through what I went through,'' Richardson said of his daughters, who live with Richardson's mother, who moved to Birmingham, Ala, while Richardson was in college. "I saw my mom work two or three jobs at once and then have to come home and make meals and clean up after us. I don't want my kids to go through that. Their daddy, he's in a situation now where he can make life better for them. He can show them what hard work can get you and that you can never give up. "That's what my momma showed me and what my brothers taught me, and that's really motivated me on the field, because when I play with my girls on my mind, I feel like nobody can stop me.''
I’m sure a lot of people would grumble if the Bills took Barron. After all, the Bills really don’t need a safety. But Barron is the type of player Buddy Nix loves: a productive, experienced defensive player from a big-time college program. Don’t be shocked if he’s very high on Nix’s draft board and don’t be shocked if Barron is Buffalo’s pick.
"He’s the prototype shutdown corner and his size, wingspan and attitude won’t allow teams to let him slide in the draft. Scouts are confident Kirkpatrick can be a special pro if he learns self discipline and gets his ample athleticism to match his audacious attitude."
What does Toomer's for Tuscaloosa do? What doesn't it do? It has served 82,000 meals, distributed 400 free helmets to kids for tornado safety, bought a man a mobile home, remodeled houses, assisted with relief efforts in Joplin, Mo., and West Liberty, Ky., and ran a relief center when tornadoes struck the Birmingham area again in January. "When things hit in Clay, we knew who had the Fritos connection, and who could get this, who could get that," Hart said. "It's really beautiful." At its core, Toomer's for Tuscaloosa is neighbors helping neighbors.
Derek Dooley had barely finished his comments to the media after the Orange & White Game on Saturday when he glanced at a flat screen on the wall of the interview area. There, stats from the scrimmage were displayed. But rather than identify the participating teams as Orange and White, the board showed this final score: TENN 14 NCSU 17 Those unscrambling the alphabet soup were left to conclude that NCSU might stand for North Carolina State University, which just happens to be Tennessee’s first opponent in the upcoming season. Foreshadowing? Given the pressure he is operating under, Dooley better hope not.
Not long afterward, [Rolando] McClain was on his way to Gulf Shores. There, radiologist Jason R. Williams performed liposuction on McClain and then injected stem cells from the linebacker’s own fat cells into his knee and into the area of a high ankle sprain. "It feels a lot better," McClain said in an interview last week, adding that he’s working out four days a week with the Raiders, running, lifting weights, doing squats and even sprinting "with hardly any pain at all." About three months ago, Williams, 38, began the new procedure in which he injects patients -- two of them being McClain and former University of Alabama receiver Marquis Maze -- with their own stem cells in an effort to repair damaged joints and muscles.
Rolando McClain faces a trial in May on assault charges stemming from an incident in Alabama last year, but he has been able to reach a settlement on another, older case. The Birmingham News reports that McClain has reached a settlement in a case that saw him accused of hitting another man with a car and then verbally and physically assaulting him in 2008. Stanford Matthew Mangham, who was an Alabama student at the time, claimed that McClain intentionally hit him with a vehicle twice, left the scene and then returned with other football players before assaulting him. Mangham said he needed oral surgery and was seeking $75,000 in punitive damages.
Penn State officials, in an attempt to get the family of Joe Paterno to sign away its right to sue the school, offered to rename Beaver Stadium after the late coach, The Patriot-News has reported, citing a source close to the family. But the family said no. Paterno had never been keen on the stadium bearing his name, an idea that "has always been a fan-driven matter. It was never important to Joe," the source told the Harrisburg, Pa., newspaper.
21. OL D.J. Fluker, Jr., Alabama The breakdown: The one-time mega recruit last year developed into an elite pass protector. Quick feet for such a massive frame (6-6, 340 pounds). NFL scout says: "He has the most potential to move up of just about anyone—if he comes to camp in shape and continues to play well."
Geralen Stack-Eaton capped a stellar gymnastics career in style on Sunday. One day after helping Alabama win its second consecutive national championship, the star senior won an NCAA individual championship for the second consecutive year. Stack-Eaton won the balance beam with a score of 9.9375 at the Gwinnett Center. "Today was just about having fun, and whatever happened would be icing on the cake," Stack-Eaton said. She also placed second on the floor exercise with a score of 9.9375. That same score was good for the floor exercise championship last year. "It's kind of ironic that I won beam because I've struggled a lot on beam this season," Stack-Eaton said. "Today was about going up there and putting it out on the floor and I think I did a good job of that."
Fit. They all talk about hiring somebody who fits the profile of the school. "I'm not big on hiring prima donnas," says Bill Byrne. "I want somebody who knows all the names of the secretaries and the janitors, of the maintenance guy who comes in and fixes the clock." The sheer numbers, though, suggest that there are a lot of bad fits out there. The 2011-12 offseason brought 26 coaching hires among 120 major-school jobs, which reflects either a lot of imperfect hires or the impatience of administrators and fans. "It's troubling," says the senior Byrne. "I think given the pressures that are out there and the enormous compensation packages, if there isn't success pretty quickly, there's going to be a change made."