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March 4, 2011TUSCALOOSA | Four University of Alabama players have not gone through the team's offseason program and will miss spring drills, including defensive lineman Kerry Murphy, according to UA coach Nick Saban.
Jack linebacker Glenn Harbin, and defensive backs Kendall Kelly and Wes Neighbors are the others.
Murphy, Kelly and Neighbors are unavailable for physical reasons, while Harbin has chosen to pursue a role on the UA baseball team. Saban's remarks indicated the possibility of long-term issues for Murphy, Kelly and Neighbors, but did not rule any of the four out for their availability this fall.
"All these guys have physical issues that have not allowed them to participate in the offseason program, and will not allow them to participate in the spring, and most certainly could affect their future ability to contribute here," Saban said.
Asked about the possibility of medical hardship status for the players, Saban said: "There is a process for everything, and it's not good to comment on things until it's gone through the process."
As for Harbin, the Mobile native has been working with the baseball team in a volunteer capacity this spring. Saban said Harbin hopes to be an active member of the UA baseball roster in 2012.
"Glenn wants to play baseball next year, and he wants to make a commitment to playing baseball. He's going to graduate regardless, I think, in December," Saban said. "He didn't see much of a future in football, he hasn't played much to this point. He's been a great person in the program, he's a good student. He's done everything we've asked him to do with a very positive attitude. He's contributed to the team in every way that he could. He's always had this thing about being able to play baseball, and after not having played baseball for awhile, he felt like he wanted to try to make a (baseball) commitment."
Saban also said nose guard Jesse Williams, a transfer from Arizona Western Community College, is recovering from minor knee surgery.
"It was a minor issue that was really coming from junior college," Saban said. "But he will be ready for spring practice."
With the departure of senior Greg McElroy at the quarterback position, the competition between reserves A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims will commence when spring drills March 21. Saban said he hopes the competition won't create a controversy.
"Obviously we'll have a new quarterback one way or the other. We've got a couple of young guys that have shown some talent. Some you've seen, some you haven't," Saban said. "Without creating a quarterback controversy of any kind, somebody is going to have to earn the job through their ability to manage the team, lead the team, and make good choices and decisions that allows them to play winning football on the team. That has to be determined, and there's no timetable for determining it."
Sims redshirted as a freshman last season, while McCarron completed 30 of 48 passes without an interception as McElroy's immediate backup. McCarron will be a third-year sophomore this fall.
Was Julio Jones' blistering 4.39 clocking in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine was something he duplicated while at Alabama? Saban indicated the 40-yard dash isn't something that's heavily emphasized in the UA program.
"I can't even tell you what Julio ran the 40 in here. We don't time them very often," Saban said. "When we do time them, it's not at the most advantageous times of the year where we've let them train so they can run a good time. I coached Everson Walls when he was I don't know how old, and I would be afraid to say what he ran the 40 in, and played corner really well. I would not want to know what he ran the 40 in at that point in his career. But he could still play football, and he was the best player we had. All I can tell is, when they get out there running on the field, they're really fast, fast enough, or they're slow."
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/chasegoodbread
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