The injured include starting defensive lineman
By MICHAEL CASAGRANDE
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Still more than two weeks from the first official spring practice, Alabama football players are knee-deep in the off-season conditioning drills.
By the time the 15-practice regimen starts March 21, the Crimson Tide will be missing a few injured players including a starting defensive lineman.
Kerry Murphy, a six-game starter who made nine tackles but struggled with a nagging knee injury, will not practice this spring -- and neither will reserve wide receiver Kendall Kelly nor special-teamer Wesley Neighbors.
“All these guys had physical issues that has not allowed them to participate in the offseason program, will not allow them to participate in the spring and most certainly could affect their future ability to contribute here,” Saban said.
Saban would not comment on the possibility of medical scholarships that would end the football careers of the injured players but allow them to complete their education at Alabama.
The news was better for one of the big names of the 2011 signing class who could make a big impact on the defensive line this fall.
Saban said junior college transfer Jesse Williams should be fine for spring practices after having offseason arthroscopic knee surgery for an injury the coach called “minor.” The native Australian played just two games last season with a knee injury at Arizona Western Community College, but was still considered among the best JUCO prospects in the country with 6-foot-4, 330-pound frame.
“Everything is 100 percent at the moment,” Williams said Feb. 2. “It took a little bit out of me at the end of last season, but I went home for a month right off the end of the season right before I came here and pretty much got it all fixed up with my physiotherapist. So it’s pretty much 110 percent.”
Saban also said Friday that defensive lineman/linebacker Glenn Harbin had left the football team in hopes to continuing his baseball career with the Tide next spring.
Harbin did not play as a redshirt freshman in 2009 or as a sophomore last fall.
“He didn’t see much of a future in football,” Saban said. “He hasn’t played much to this point. He’s been a great person in the program. He’s a good student and he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and (has) a very positive attitude. He contributed every way that he could.”
A baseball standout at Mobile’s McGill-Toolen High School, Harbin hit .350 as a junior with two home runs, 32 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
The first 14 spring football practices are closed to the public, but the April 16 A-Day game will be played in Bryant-Denny Stadium.