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September 5, 2012

Notebook: Jackson centers Hilltoppers defense

TUSCALOOSA | Quick: Take a guess which team on the University of Alabama's schedule has the biggest linebacker the Crimson Tide will face this season.

LSU? Tennessee?

Try Western Kentucky, which visits Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday at 2:30 p.m. UA coach Nick Saban has taken notice of Andrew Jackson, the Hilltoppers' 265-pound middle linebacker who led his team in tackles last season.

"I think he's a really good player. He's a thumper, he's very instinctive," Saban said. "He really plays the run well and is very physical. He can take on blockers, he's a really good tackler. I think he's an SEC player, no doubt."

Jackson, a junior from Lakeland, Fla., was a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference pick last year in making 109 stops. He also made 17 tackles for loss, which ranked 14th in the nation last year. In July, he was named to the preseason watch lists for the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker, as well as the Lombardi Award and the Bronko Nagursky Award.

Jackson wears number four, which is a number being worn by multiple Alabama scout-team players in practice this week, including freshman linebacker Ryan Anderson.

"He really plays the game the way you like to see defensive players play it. A lot of toughness, a lot of tenacity, and really plays hard," Saban added. "I would think he's a good leader, just by the way he plays, but I don't know him personally. I've got a lot of respect for the guy."

Friendly Fire
Safety Robert Lester said the shoulder stinger he sustained against Michigan and the mild concussion suffered by nose guard Jesse Williams both occurred in a collision with each other. Both are expected to play against WKU.

Lester joked that Williams missed his target.

"I mean, we've got the same colors on," Lester said. "Kind of hard to mistake yellow and blue for crimson and white."

"He may be the most improved defensive player in camp that I saw. Maybe that's because I go against him a lot. I'm biased, but he's gotten a lot better. He's really understanding defense and how to use his body. He's really quick, which is something maybe people don't know about him." - Barrett Jones on reserve nose guard Brandon Ivory.

Injured freshman linebacker Reggie Ragland (ankle) remained withheld from contact Wednesday but was off the stationary bike and participating on a limited basis in individual drills. ... According to ESPN, TV ratings for the Alabama-Michigan game averaged a 4.8 (7,918,000 viewers and 5,452,000 households) making it the night's top show across all networks in viewership and key male demographics.

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

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