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September 29, 2009

Notebook: Replacing Hightower no easy task

TUSCALOOSA _ The University of Alabama football team's efforts to replace injured sophomore Dont'a Hightower continued Tuesday at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility, with no simple solution having developed yet.

"Definitely have to make some adjustments with Dont'a going down," senior linebacker Cory Reamer said. "We're going to take it stride, though, go about it each day and see what combinations work the best, do some different things, try and figure out who fits best where, and go from there."

During the two periods of practice that reporters observed, mostly during individual work, the defense lined up the same as following the injury late in the first quarter against Arkansas: Reamer at weakside linebacker (Will), with sophomore Courtney Upshaw at Jack linebacker and senior Eryk Anders at strongside linebacker (Sam).

Previously, with Hightower at weakside linebacker, Reamer was at strong and Anders at Jack, the hybrid end/linebacker spot.

True freshman Nico Johnson was backing up Reamer and sophomore Chris Jordan was still behind junior middle linebacker Rolando McClain. Junior Chavis Williams was the reserve at strongside, with junior Milton Talbert the backup Jack. Sophomore Jerrell Harris, Hightower's primary backup, is ineligible for two more games.

However, things apparently didn't stay that way during the rest of practice, and Reamer said he split practice at Will and Sam.
"They don't want me to get too far away from the Sam position, because we never know what combination is going to work," he said. "I'm not the only one who's moving around."

One aspect coaches obviously have to weigh is experience, especially considering the inside and outside linebacker spots have different reads. Although Reamer started at Sam all last season, he played Will in 2007.

"Mike and Will are identical positions pretty much," he said. "The responsibilities are the same, especially for dun defense and all that. The easiest thing would be to move another inside linebacker to the Will position."

He later added: "If you know one, you always know what the other one is doing."

NCAA cabinet supports changes
The NCAA's Division I Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet announced it supports several proposals that could change the recruiting landscape, including one to allow unlimited phone calls during contact periods.

Proposal No. 2009-32 was sponsored by the Pac-10, in hopes alleviate the burden on compliance personnel and coaches to monitor calls and keep up with changing rules.

Meanwhile, the cabinet supported two Southeastern Conference proposals, No. 2009-42 to prohibit distribution of media guides to recruits (while the Pac-10 wants to eliminate printed media guides completely), and No. 2009-48, which would annually limit the number of football signees to 28.

NCAA rules currently allow institutions to print a recruiting brochure or media guide, but not both.

Tide-bits
Sophomore running back Jeramie Griffin, who blew out his knee early in fall camp, rode an exercise bike during Tuesday's practice. Also on a bike was freshman receiver Kenny Bell, who was out of black (shin splints). Demetrius Goode (hyperextended knee) practiced with the running backs.

Sophomore Mark Ingram has a couple of impressive ongoing streaks. In addition to not having a fumble in 204 carries and 20 receptions, the running back has at least one rushing touchdown in each game this season, and seven of his last eight. Overall, he's scored at least one touchdown in 13 of his 18 career games, with 19 total (three receiving). Ingram leads the SEC in scoring at 10.5 points per game.

True freshman running back Trent Richardson's 52-yard touchdown is a finalist for the SEC play of the week, but was losing to the 93-yard punt return by LSU's Chad Jones in early fan voting on the league's website (www.secsports.com).


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