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January 24, 2012

Senior Bowl notes: Samuels returning

MOBILE | Chris Samuels was back home in Mobile Tuesday for Senior Bowl week, but the former University of Alabama All-American offensive lineman is coming back to a home of a different sort soon -- the Capstone.

Samuels confirmed that he will join the UA football program in a support role while also re-enrolling in school and working toward his college degree. Samuels was an Outland Trophy winner at UA as a key member of the 1999 Alabama team that won the Southeastern Conference title. He was later a first-round NFL Draft choice of the Washington Redskins and enjoyed a lengthy and successul NFL career as a starting left tackle.

"I'll be going to 'Bama to finish my degree and be an assistant up there," Samuels said. "More than likely something with the offensive line."

Samuels is looking to climb the ladder in the coaching profession.

"I always wanted to coach football. I always was big into the video games, into helping guys out while I was in the pros, teaching things to young guys," Samuels said. "I knew once I got out of the league I wanted to go into coaching. I always said I would go into high school coaching just from the hours standpoint. You get more family time. But the more I do it, the love for it grows. I interned with the Redskins one year and enjoyed it. I enjoyed the high school gig. Now I get a college role and I'll judge what I want to go after full-time after the season."

In August, former UA and NFL offensive lineman Justin Smiley took on a similar role as a student assistant, also working toward an undergraduate degree. Samuels said he was unsure if Smiley was still in the position.

"Coach Saban is the hottest coach in college football right now. He does an excellent job, his staff as well," Samuels said. "For me to just get in the door and learn from those guys is a blessing to me."

Menzie feeling strong
Former UA cornerback DeQuan Menzie said he has been pleased overall with his performance after two days of practice working against the South receivers. Among them has been former Florida running back Chris Rainey, who has been asked to practice at wide receiver.

"It's been a great experience coming down here with all these players, especially after playing against some of them," said Menzie. "It's crazy here."

Menzie also revealed he has marriage plans.

Maze still not right
"A little better."

That's how former UA receiver Marquis Maze described his left hamstring Tuesday as he continues to try to practice for the Senior Bowl while rehabilitating an injury sustained in the BCS National Championship Game.

Maze participated in practice more Tuesday than he did Monday, but was not part of the scrimmage work near the end of practice. The annual North-South all-star game is Saturday.

Former UA linebacker Courtney Upshaw has been one of the hotter topics of conversation among NFL scouts and coaches this week, with the prevailing opinion being that he is among the elite talents on either roster. ... Both Maze and former Upshaw conducted interviews with the Buffalo Bills Tuesday, among other teams.

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196.

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