Wants fame to be more than 1 game
By MICHAEL CASAGRANDE
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — If the Alabama football legacy of Marcell Dareus were written today, the highlight would be unique for any defensive end.
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A stiff arm, spin move and unlikely touchdown in Pasadena, Calif., — to this point at least — remain his signature moment.
By this fall, the rising junior would like his reputation to include more tackling and sacking than running and scoring.
As one of the three new starting defensive linemen, Dareus is emerging as the most dominating.
Offensive linemen have said blocking him is about as hard as it gets and his scrimmage statistics show it. With the offense throwing the ball more than usual, Dareus has nine sacks among his 18 tackles — both team bests.
When told of the praise he’s receiving, the usually confident Dareus was quick to downplay his impact, especially when a teammate referred to him as unblockable.
“I don’t know about all that,” he said with a sheepish smile. “I do work hard. I do what (defensive line) coach (Bo) Davis says.”
Of those nine sacks, none were the kind he’s used to recording on Saturdays. In practice, the quarterbacks can’t be taken to the ground.
So are those scrimmage sacks legitimate”
“It has to be a convincing sack,” Dareus said. “You can’t just go up and touch him because in a game situation, you can touch him and he can get away. So you have to be convincing.”
On a defense that includes just one senior among the projected starting lineup, younger personalities like Dareus are expected to step into those roles vacated by players such as defensive ends Lorenzo Washington and Brandon Deaderick.
It was Dareus who stepped into Deaderick’s spot when the senior starter was shot in the arm in a botch robbery less than a week before the Tide opened the 2009 season against Virginia Tech. In his first career start, he recorded 1.5 sacks. A week later, he picked up two more, leading him to tell reporters he planned on sticking close to his average of two per game for the rest of the season.
But when Deaderick returned to full speed, Dareus’ playing time decreased while remaining productive. His two fourth-quarter sacks in the 24-15 win over LSU went a long way to clinching the SEC West title, but his brightest moment came in the closing seconds of the first half in the BCS national championship game.
After picking off a Texas shovel pass, Dareus dipped and dunked his way into Alabama lore with the improbable touchdown that appeared to give the Tide an insurmountable 24-7 halftime lead.
It’s a play he hears about “a lot.”
“People talk to me all the time about that little pirouette,” he said with a laugh.
No matter how amazing it was, that play is in the past and Dareus thinks more about the fall to come than the January passed.
There is much more for him to accomplish and many more quarterbacks to sack.