"It would have been special last night as well, but you know you can't let it hold me back," Upshaw added. "I'm very excited. I'm sure I would have been the same last night, but hey, like I say, I'm ready."
"I don’t go into any situation thinking that I’m going to be behind a guy," Upshaw said. "I’m going in there thinking that, hey, I’m going to in and compete. That’s what I’m supposed to do. I have a lot of high expectations for myself, so of course I’m going to go in and compete."
"I’m sure if you had asked us back in October or November, would Courtney make it to the third pick in the second round, everybody would have probably said, ‘probably not,’" said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. "When you talk about Courtney, this still is a game that we call football and Courtney is a football player. Obviously, he played at [my] alma mater and I’ve had the opportunity to watch him a lot."
"I’m very motivated to prove it to those who passed me up," Upshaw said. "I just want to go out and be the great player I know I can be." There’s an extra incentive to landing in Baltimore. Not only will Upshaw play alongside future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, but he’ll line up behind former teammate and Raven nose guard Terrence Cody. "It’s great. I saw Terrence when I met with Baltimore," Upshaw said. "He’s looking good. It’s going to be great having some Alabama players that I played with and won a championship with in ’09."
"He plays like a junkyard dog,'' DeCosta said. "He's a physical, violent football player. A lot of guys can rush the passer, a lot of guys can drop and play in space, but setting the edge is really one of the most important things at this position, and we feel this guy can do that.''
Yeah, play for Saban and, if you merit draft consideration, chances are that the NFL birddogs will find their way to Tuscaloosa. And not merely because of the bounteous talent pool there, but also because of Saban and the manner in which the Tide coach takes players and grows them into NFL prospects. Scouts characterize as it "NFL-ready," and Alabama players generally are just that. Saban had a losing record at Miami, but league personnel people still consider him a proven winner in terms of NFL preparation. "He still has the [NFL] mentality," said New England coach Bill Belichick, a close friend of Saban, at the annual league meetings last month. "He knows what it takes [to play in the league] and he imparts that to players."
Their names aren't being thrown around on ESPN or the NFL Network. They've never been inside the green room at Radio City Music Hall. They won't be negotiating multi-million-dollar contracts like some of their college teammates. But Phelon Jones, Brandon Maye and a handful of other Mobile-area players have been looking forward to -- and working toward -- the NFL draft just as much as anyone else. "All I need is a chance to get my foot in the door and I'll make it happen from there," said Jones, a former McGill-Toolen standout who played at Alabama, "This is pretty much the hard part -- the waiting game."
Brandon Weeden (On how excited he is to have Richardson as his running back)- "Very, obviously, I have followed his career at Alabama. I told people last week, he is the best player in the country last year in college football. He is very, very dynamic. As a quarterback it is comforting, you can turn around and hand the ball to a guy like this. One it can make a quarterback look really good at times and he’ll make your offense really go."
Florida signed 22 players in 2008 and 17 players in 2009. Those classes would go on to experience high rates of attrition. In 2009, Florida State signed just 21 players, and Miami only took 19 that same year. A really good recruiting class will produce one or two first rounders, but that's harder to do when you don't sign that many players.
Oxford coach John Grass, who just had three big-time prospects in Kwon Alexander, Trae Elston and Michael Flint sign in February, said recruiting players with the lure of the NFL is automatic. "The draft has gotten bigger. Ten years ago, the NFL Draft was just a draft. You didn't even pay attention to it," Grass said. "Now, the media covers it so much more. It's almost as big as the Super Bowl and the (BCS) Championship Game. "To me, I think it's about developing players in college for the NFL. Recruiters use it more in their recruiting spiel, saying, 'We'll get you prepared for the draft.' "
Phillip Sims, the former backup to A.J. McCarron at Alabama, is on his way out of the program, and it's looking likely he heads to a school in the state of Virginia. But will it be the University of Virginia? If the word on Friday is correct, Sims may be checking out the Cavaliers sooner rather than later.
"We are sorry to see him leave, but we certainly understand the situation, and everyone here wishes him the best of luck," the coach said. "We’ve talked on numerous occasions about this decision, and we just want Phillip to know that we will be here to support him in the future if there is anything we can do to help him and his family."
"I think that deep down inside -- even though we never really talked about it, never used it as a motivating factor as a team -- every player on the team, every coach on the staff, myself included, in the back of our mind, deep down in our heart, really wanted to accomplish something of significance for our fans who were affected and our community that was affected by the tornado," Saban said.
This will be a heated debate for the next six months until November 3 rolls around. That is the day, of course, that Alabama must head down to the bayou to face the LSU Tigers in a third straight battle for national — and conference — supremacy. On paper, LSU has the best roster in America. The Athlon editors are dead split on who should be the pick in the West and Les Miles appears to be the only reason for the debate. If Nick Saban and Miles were to magically switch positions, the Bayou Bengals would be the clearcut, no doubt pick to win not only the SEC but also the National Championship. Removing the taste of the BCS championship game performance by Miles from my mouth is virtually impossible. LSU was the most horribly prepared team for a championship game in (at least) the BCS era and The Hat's inability to make any semblance of in-game adjustments simply cannot be forgotten.