Alabama linebacker Ezekial Knight has been medically disqualified and will not play his final season with the Crimson Tide.
"Zeke Knight has been medically disqualified based on a medical condition that we cannot disclose due to student privacy laws," head coach Nick Saban said in a prepared statement. "He has had extensive medical evaluations by numerous physicians, all of which concluded that it was in his best interest to no longer play football."
Knight had previously sought a transfer to Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala., but Eagles coach Jim Nichols told BOL the senior from Wedowee, Ala., would not be able to join the Eagles program.
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Knight, a starter last year at the strongside position, was unable to participate in spring drills with the Crimson Tide after his second heart-related hospitalization occurred in January. His first, a stroke suffered in September of 2006, cost him most of that season while doctors executed a battery of tests. Later, a heart murmur caused by two small holes in Knight's heart was discovered, leading to corrective surgery that allowed Knight to play in 2007.
"He did reach out to us, but it isn't going to happen for him here," Nichols said.
Knight's 2007 season at Alabama was his best. He totaled 64 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three sacks and two interceptions despite an ankle injury that sapped his effectiveness late in the season. He spent three previous years at wide receiver and defensive end in part-time roles, but emerged as a regular starter as a linebacker last year. There has been no final word on Knight from UA regarding his medical status, though his search for a new school would appear to indicate he still has not yet received clearance.
Knight's disqualification brings the unofficial count of UA's returning scholarship players to 61. The number must be at 60 if the Crimson Tide is to bring in 25 freshmen on scholarship this fall, due to the NCAA's roster limit of 85.
The Crimson Tide opens fall camp on August 1.