"We had a lot of great players coming back, but I think the team felt like everybody went their own personal way -- tried to look out for their self following the '09 season and tried to do whatever they could to help their draft status personally," McCarron said. "What a lot of guys lose, when they're going through that process, they forget (when) the team wins, a lot more guys get drafted. You get drafted off the success of the team, not just personal success."
Nothing can prepare a kicker for the media blitz that ensued in the days after the Crimson Tide's 21-0 victory over LSU. Shelley's voice was heard from coast to coast, his story told by publications as large as Sports Illustrated and as familiar as the TV stations back in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C. Three months isn't nearly enough time to consider those kinds of memories as old news, but Shelley doesn't want that to be the last thing he's associated with at Alabama. "It's still a lot of fun, but it's time to move on and get into this spring," Shelley said. "So far it's been going very well."
Travell Dixon, CB, JUCO, Alabama: Dixon has had a pretty successful spring, and has had the honor of playing at Alabama's "star" (nickel) cornerback spot. That shows you just how much coach Nick Saban respects Dixon's game. Saban usually puts his most complete defensive backs at the star. That's where Javier Arenas played, and DeQuan Menzie after him. With Alabama losing Menzie and Dre Kirkpatrick at cornerback, Dixon has a chance to come in and start immediately.
Georgia has agreed on a new five-year contract for football coach Mark Richt, so clearly the UGA administration is happy with the job he’s doing. But one thing the Bulldogs’ 12-year coach appears to struggle with is simply keeping his players around. If reports are true that defensive stars Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo are suspended for multiple games to start this season — UGA has yet to confirm or deny them — then it continues a trend of roster attrition that has occurred at an alarming rate the past few years. Reviewing AJC archives over the past four years, these latest suspensions would bring to 28 the number of players who will not be playing for the Bulldogs at the beginning of the 2012 season who otherwise would be eligible. (ed.- how evil. sounds like something nick saban would do.)
The NCAA men's college basketball season ended Monday night, in the same building where the college football season ended and in much the same way - with a Southeastern Conference team hoisting the championship trophy. The SEC has yet to establish its hegemony on the basketball court to quite the extent of its football dominance - at least a team from another conference got to play in the title game. And, given certain differences in football and basketball, it isn't likely that the SEC is going to roll off a string of six straight championships. But the other leagues had better pay attention.
Some called it boring and opponents called it bruising. But to Dont’a Hightower, Alabama’s defense was a beautiful thing. After all, how do you argue with something that results in a BCS National Championship? Such was the case for Hightower in 2011, as he proved to be a cornerstone of the vaunted Crimson Tide defense, one that led ‘Bama to a 21-0 win over Louisiana State on college football’s brightest stage. In the biggest game of his life, Hightower racked up four tackles, a forced fumble and a sack. After fighting through a serious knee injury in 2009 to regain his top form, Hightower was voted as a team captain in 2011. On game days you could hear him barking out the defensive calls from his inside linebacker position, leading one of the greatest defenses college football has ever seen. "It was definitely something I took pride in, being elected as a team captain by my peers, guys that want to look up to me during the good and the bad," Hightower said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I had to step up. We lost a lot of leaders and a lot of older guys my sophomore year coming back from the injury. From that point on I kind of ran with it."
Most of the draft prognosticators have linked the Cowboys to Alabama’s three top defensive players, and all three are visiting with the team this week. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, safety Mark Barron and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw are among the "top 30" visitors to meet with the coaches and front-office staff and get a look at Cowboys Stadium and Valley Ranch, according to multiple sources. NFL rules limit teams to 30 national visitors to facilities prior to the draft, however, they do no on-field workouts. The visits are more in-depth interviews to get a feel for how a player learns or interacts. There is also a medical checkup.
Chapman said he knew right away that he had injured his knee badly against Florida. "I felt like I needed to do an MRI," Chapman said. "I knew I was hurting pretty bad. I tore it, but they told me I still have a little stability left and I can fix it now or fix it after the season. I played through pain, but my senior year meant a lot. I didn't want to sit out. The season meant a lot to me. Injuries are a part of football." What sort of feedback has Chapman gotten from teams about his decision? "A lot of teams said I'm a great player for staying out on the field and that I have a lot of toughness," Chapman said. "I don't want to use my injury as an excuse. Wherever I end up, I end up. I'm a great player. I love the game of football."
Common sense tells us that the NFL Draft begins with the Cleveland Browns and the 4th overall pick. Quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will go one/two and unless the Minnesota Vikings want Christian Ponder to die, left tackle Matt Kalil will go 3rd. Ironically, Cleveland was sitting in a similar scenario last Spring’s draft – with the top 5 expected to be Cam Newton, Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green, and Patrick Peterson and the Browns being the wildcard at 6. Once again, all eyes are on Holmgren and company. The most popular choice for Cleveland right now is Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Why wouldn’t he be?
Just weeks away from the 2012 NFL Draft, Sporting News examines talent depth at every position before the first pick is made. The draft's first round will be April 26, followed by rounds two and three on April 27 — both in prime time. Rounds 4-7 will be called April 28. On Monday, we examined the top cornerback prospects, led by LSU's Morris Claiborne. Second up today is the other half of the secondary, safeties, where there is no short supply of hard hitters — including another standout from the SEC:
Todd Archer of ESPNDallas reported that SS Mark Barron, OG Cordy Glenn and OLB Courtney Upshaw have also received inivitations to Valley Ranch
Courtney Upshaw was a stud at Alabama. In my opinion, he will be a solid player in the NFL. But we need someone who can come in and immediately make a HUGE impact on this defense right away. I don’t see Upshaw as that guy. I know what Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune (and various other media outlets) are saying about the Chargers really liking Upshaw. Who am I to doubt them? I’m just a person, like all of you, who has always loved the Chargers and want them to win a Superbowl now.
Read in fascination as the Colorado St. Rams become the Alabama Crimson Tide, at least as far as practice schedules are concerned. New CSU coach Jim McElwain, formerly Bama's offensive coordinator, switched up the incumbent practice style (first- and second-teamers do all the work; backups loiter) with something more like Nick Saban's (everybody works the entire time), and players actually love it
The reigning national champs in football and basketball are Alabama and Kentucky. Depending on your own fan allegiances that may be Heaven or Hell for you, but it does feel right. The two most tradition-rich programs in the SEC in their sports are atop their sports once more. That hasn’t happened since UK won a hoops title under Joe B. Hall in 1978 and Bama won a football crown the following fall under Bear Bryant.
"It's something that really puts a scare in you," Petrino said. "I can't say that I'm not going to ride a motorcycle again because I might do that. The ironic thing is we were sitting there in the kitchen, Becky and I, and I had two helmets out. I said, `This one's going to be really heavy and hot, and then this one makes me look like a cone head. I think I'll just go with the hat.' "Obviously, bad call. We wouldn't have converted the third down." Petrino insisted he felt fine mentally Tuesday, despite the breaks, bumps and bruises. He even showed a rare glimpse into his sense of humor. "I don't think I have any brain damage, but that's yet to be seen," Petrino said. "If I start not punting at all in games or something, then we've got a problem."
New defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri must be able to bring a little Alabama flair with him while keeping the unit playing at the high level it did under former coordinator Justin Wilcox. Quarterback Tyler Bray has the weapons at receiver, although the Da'Rick Rogers issue is a concern.
"Most people in this league are playing one BCS game or one tough game and then three games they should win. We’re playing two," Franklin said. "We should just be playing one of those. I can make an argument, if you studied our schedule, that we have one of the toughest out-of-conference schedules, and we shouldn’t. "We have to find a way to get it done, especially playing in the SEC, where we’re playing the same kind of out-of-conference schedule as everybody else. That’s got to happen." In 2010, the Commodores played three nonconference games against schools from BCS conferences.