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July 21, 2012HOOVER | In 2011, Damion Square was part of a defensive line unit, led by Nick Gentry and Josh Chapman, that led not only the Southeastern Conference, but the NCAA in rushing defense, with opponents averaging a paltry 72.2 yards a game.
Square, entering his senior season, is looking to step into more of a leadership role, not just for the defensive line, but the entire defense.
"I'm expecting to have a big year," Square said. "I'm expecting to be the best 92 that I can be for Alabama, and whatever that may take."
Square enters season as the fourth-highest returning tackler from 2011, with 32, and is also the top returning tackler on the line. He leads all defensive returners with seven tackles for loss from 2011.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said Square would be a key component for the defense in 2012. Although he wasn't a "star player," his responsibility and production on and off the field make him irreplaceable. Indeed, he said one of Square's biggest roles will be to help in the development of younger players on the defense.
For Saban, the experience and leadership of Square and fellow defensive lineman Jesse Williams will play a huge role in how the defense performs.
"I think everything starts up front," Saban said. "Even though we'll have some new linebackers, I think those front guys can make the linebackers' job a little easier if they do the things they're capable of doing."
Square didn't shy away from the pressure, however. Indeed, he said he was ready to embrace the role of leading the unit that will be the lynchpin for the defense.
"Oh, no doubt," Square said. "If you have to choose your experience, you want your experience to be up front. The game starts up front. If you can't stop somebody on the line of scrimmage, you don't really have a game to play."
Square is not the only one who has confidence in the defensive line. Senior center Barrett Jones counted Square as one of the leaders on defense, and said he also expected his defensive counterparts to have a successful 2012.
"I'm really pleased with the progress the defensive line has made," Jones said. "I feel great about our defense, overall. I feel really good about what they did in the spring, and I think they'll continue to get better in the fall."
Square said he knew his opportunity to be one of the leaders on defense wouldn't come without a lot of preparation, however. He said he was going to do whatever he needed to ensure to help the defense.
"I go out every day and perform every day," Square said. "I go in the weight room I work hard for my team, and watch extra film on my opponent so that I can compete at a high level. So that when the team looks around and asks, 'Is Damion Square doing his job?' the answer will be yes."