TUSCALOOSA, Ga. — Junior college import Dequan Menzie thought his 2010 season was finished before it started when he tore his Achilles tendon in the spring, but Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday that the former Carver standout made considerable progress during the summer.
“(Menzie) worked the last two weeks in the regular summer conditioning program, and we are hopeful that we’ll be able to continue to progress him, so that he can get to 100 percent by the opening game,” Saban said. “Provided that he does not have a setback from a medical standpoint, that’s very possible for us.”
Having a healthy Menzie would reverse the tide of unfavorable news concerning the Alabama secondary that took another bad turn Wednesday as the Crimson Tide officially reported for practices beginning this morning for returning players and this evening for newcomers.
For now, it’s a question of who’s in, who’s out and who’s still not sure.
The departure of sophomore safety Rod Woodson, which was announced Wednesday, only added to the list that also includes a few of an academic nature.
True freshmen defensive backs — Blake Sims and Deion Belue — still await word from the NCAA clearinghouse.
“Deion Belue is still working through NCAA eligibility issues which may get resolved or may not get resolved,” Saban said. “They’re not resolved right now, so he will not be with us now.”
Attempts to reach Belue’s high school coach were unsuccessful Wednesday night.
The news of Woodson’s exit reduces the depth even more at an already shallow position that has been thinned out by graduation, the NFL draft and eligibility problems.
“We mutually agreed that it would be better for him to continue his career someplace else,” Saban said of Woodson. “He will transfer and have the opportunity to do that.”
Woodson played sparingly as a true freshman mostly on special teams. He made seven total tackles, including two against Texas in the BCS National Championship Game on kickoff coverage. Coming out of Olive Branch, Miss., Woodson was the eighth-best high school safety in the country, according to Rivals.com.
His departure leaves just three defensive backs returning who saw significant playing time a year ago, but the unit will receive a boost from the return of Menzie.
After the BCS National Championship Game, Kareem Jackson entered the NFL draft. Then in April, Robby Green was declared ineligible by the NCAA, leaving safety Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick as the only defensive backs with meaningful playing experience.
On the topic of Marcell Dareus’ status, Saban said there is nothing to report on the investigation that is complete and in the NCAA’s hands.
The defensive end is the subject of a probe into potentially improper dealings with an agent during the summer, but he will practice with the team.
“(Dareus’) mature enough to know that he created a situation for himself, and he’s going to have to live with the consequences if there are consequences,” Saban said. “There will be a day when he’s allowed to play football again and it may be very soon. He needs to prepare himself to take advantage of that.”