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May 21, 2012TUSCALOOSA | Before Courtney Upshaw had even made his way to the Baltimore Ravens' rookie minicamp, the former University of Alabama linebacker had changed positions.
When Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles tendon during a workout on the final day of the NFL Draft, Upshaw was quickly assigned Suggs' role as a pass-rusher. And Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome was all the more thankful the team had drafted someone with pass-rush skills to help replace an NFL Defensive Player of the Year who registered 14 sacks last season.
"When we drafted him, he was going to compete with Paul Kruger to play opposite of Suggs," Newsome said Monday at the Crimson Tide Celebrity Classic, an annual golf tournament benefitting the Crimson Tide Foundation. "But Suggs, the day after we drafted (Upshaw), tore his Achilles. So now Courtney will be playing on one side and Kruger will be playing on the other."
Suggs' Achilles tear turned out to be partial rather than complete, opening the opportunity for him to return to the Ravens lineup at some point in the 2012 season. But with a recovery prognosis of four to six months for Suggs, Upshaw still will be thrust into an immediate opportunity to contribute as a starter.
And he showed the potential to do so at the Ravens' minicamp.
"We had him in the minicamp, and the one thing he's already been able to prove is that he knows how to set the edge," Newsome said. "He does have some pass-rush ability."
Upshaw was chosen in the second round of the draft despite being projected as a late first-rounder.
Newsome said the Ravens had their eye on Upshaw near the end of the first round, but the club's decision to trade out of its first-round pick at No. 29 proved to be the right move.
"When we were there at 29 and we decided to back up, it was he and a couple of other players we liked," Newsome added. "We felt like we could take the chance, and it worked out that we were able to get the extra pick and then still get Courtney."
Moore excited for softball success
With the UA softball team qualified for super regional competition and set to host Michigan, UA athletic director Mal Moore said he couldn't be happier that the program was able to retain coach Patrick Murphy, who was courted by LSU and was set to become the Tigers' coach in the offseason before opting to stay at UA.
"All coaches get enticed at times to move on because of their success, and you anticipate that with coaches that are winning big," Moore said. "That's part of it. What made me so proud (is that) I think he realized what a great job he has here. Sometimes when you look back, you're more aware of that than ever."
If UA beats Michigan in the best-of-three series beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday at Rhoads Stadium, the Crimson Tide will qualify for the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
UA has also drawn record crowds to home games this season.
"The attraction is the success they're having. People enjoy it and appreciate it," Moore said. "Even when I was in school here before there was an (Alabama) softball team, as I recall, there was a big softball church league. People in this area like it. And they support it. It's exciting to go to a game there."
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196.
Crimson Tide Celebrity Golf Classic - Images by TideSports Photo