February 26, 2008

Hall suspended indefinitely

The chance for young linebackers to impress the Alabama coaching staff this spring got a bit better on Tuesday with the announcement that Prince Hall has been suspended indefinitely.

The Crimson Tide's most experienced linebacker, from Moreno Valley, Calif., made 58 tackles last season, and had an interception against Georgia. Saban would not comment on the details of what caused Hall's sanction, but said the upcoming junior will not participate in either the offseason program nor spring practice. Saban did suggest there remains a possibility for him to rejoin the team at some point.

"At some point in the future we'll determine what his future in the program really is," Saban said.

As a redshirt freshman in 2006, Hall amassed 77 tackles - 10.5 for loss - and earned was named to the Southeastern Conference's All-Freshman team.

His encore performance as a sophomore wasn't as productive, beginning with a one-game suspension in the season opener against Western Carolina. When Hall returned to the team, his playing time at the middle linebacker position varied game by game as true freshman Rolando McClain provided stiff competition for the role.

Hall's uncertain status, along with the unanswered question of whether Ezekial Knight will be allowed to compete, creates even more of an opportunity in spring practice for Alabama's younger linebackers. Saban said tests continue on Knight, who had his second heart-related hospitalization several weeks ago. If Knight is not cleared for spring drills, Rolando McClain will be the only linebacker with significant experience in uniform in the spring.

Two starters from 2007 have exhausted their eligibility (Keith Saunders and Darren Mustin), leaving a wide-open competition at two or three of the four starting linebacker spots, depending on Knight.

Among those who will be vying for playing time are Chavis Williams, Alex Watkins, Brandon Fanney and converted running back Jimmy Johns, although many others will have a similar opportunity.

Other notables from Saban's press conference: Defensive end Jeremy Elder[db] has been dismissed from the team and has withdrawn from school after a first-degree robbery charge. ... Discipline for team captain [db]Rashad Johnson will be handled internally after his arrest for disorderly conduct. Saban said restrictions on where players are allowed to go may be forthcoming. ... Secondary coach Kirby Smart has been promoted to defensive coordinator, while defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has been promoted to associate head coach. Steele will continue to work closely with the defense. ... Tim Davis, who worked with Saban as an assistant line coach with the Miami Dolphins, will replace Geoff Collins as director of player personnel. ... Among players who had offseason surgery, two may be limited in spring practice: Glen Coffee (shoulder), and Milton Talbert (labrum). ... Running back Terry Grant's effectiveness was limited at the end of last season by a sports hernia. He has had corrective surgery and will be ready to go in spring practice. ... Saban also said running back Demetrius Goode (knee) should be ready for spring drills.

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