Summer Stock: Alabama
Last year's playmakers are gone, but a fierce D keeps Bama in the BCS title hunt
This article is part of our Summer Stock series, a three-week look at the programs generating the most buzz coming out of spring practice.
Dont'a Hightower wasn't wearing a uniform when Alabama beat the Texas Longhorns to win the 2009 BCS title. But even in his crimson-and-white warmups, the injured linebacker says he could literally feel the energy emanating inside the Rose Bowl. Never had he seen his teammates play with such intensity and abandon, nor the joy that followed when they cradled the crystal football.
He's determined to recreate that scene, this time with his helmet on.
"I'll go down as being part of it, but in a way I wasn't," says Hightower, a freshman All-America in 2008 before tearing his left ACL in the fourth game of his second season. "I've yet to play in a game where guys showed so much passion. I want to be a part of that before my college career is over."
A possible first-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft, this could be the 6-foot-4, 260-pound redshirt junior's final chance. Luckily for Hightower, the Crimson Tide is on the rise. At least the metrics say so.
According to the early 2011 Program FEI rankings (Brian Fremeau's five-year weighted rating for possession efficiency), Alabama is the BCS favorite. And if you're looking for reason to trust the rankings, consider this: The past 10 BCS title game participants have entered the season in the PFEI's top 20.
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
- Sooners' Perine (427 yards) bests Gordon
- FSU squeaks past BC on Aguayo's late FG
- Ohio State clinches Big Ten title game berth
- Michigan interim AD to determine Hoke's future
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
Summer Stock series
College Football Previews
May 16: Georgia Bulldogs
May 17: Florida State Seminoles
May 18: West Virginia Mountaineers
May 19: Alabama Crimson Tide
May 20: Texas A&M Aggies
May 21: Arizona State Sun Devils
May 22: Arkansas Razorbacks
CFB Rumor Central
Get news and rumblings before anyone
Bruce Feldman's Blog
Daily insight from around the gridiron
Ryan McGee's blog
On refs, bowl bids, and campus life
NFL Draft Blog
A look towards April 2011
Always on top of the college and pro game