TUSCALOOSA | Darius Hanks' wait is over.
After sitting out two games under NCAA rules, the University of Alabama wide receiver returns to game action Saturday when UA plays host to North Texas. For his teammates, the fifth-year senior's season debut couldn't come sooner.
"Darius Hanks plays a big role on this team. I can't wait to have him out there. I miss him out there on the practice field," said running back Trent Richardson. "... Now he's back out there with us. I'm so excited today to go out there and see what's he's going to bring to the table. He's going to have fresh legs and be ready to roll."
Hanks missed UA's first two games in compliance with an NCAA rule on redshirting. He played one game as a true freshman against Western Carolina in 2007, and under the rule, had to sit twice as many games as he appeared in that season. UA coach Nick Saban said Hanks' experience as a veteran will make his return to the offense a simple transition.
"The guy's been playing around here for two or three years. He has a lot of experience. ... There should be no transition period here," said UA coach Nick Saban. "There should be no problems."
Saban said Hanks was named the scout team player of the week for two consecutive weeks while helping the UA defense prepare for Kent State and Penn State.
"I'm ready to get him off the scout team. The guy goes out there and works his butt off every day," said cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. "I know he's gonna bring something different to the game that we didn't really expose this week, and this week we can expose it."
Hanks is one of Alabama's two most experienced receivers, along with Marquis Maze. He made 32 receptions last season for 456 yards and three touchdowns, all career-highs. Saban said younger wide receivers such as Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood and DeAndrew White benefitted from added playing time while Hanks was sidelined. White caught four passes against the Golden Flashes Sept.3, and Norwood caught three at Penn State.
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196.