TUSCALOOSA _ The University of Alabama announced that three junior-college linemen have signed their letters of intent and will enroll for the January semester.
The Crimson Tide added Aaron Douglas and Jesse Williams from Arizona Western Junior College and former Alabama signee Quinton Dial from East Mississippi Community College on Friday. All figure to vie for playing time next season.
Rivals ranked Williams the top junior-college prospect in the nation, Dial 14th and Douglas No. 30.
Williams is a 6-4, 330-pound defensive lineman who originally hails from Brisbane, Australia. He recorded 30 tackles in seven games with six tackles for loss and two sacks this past season to go with 46 tackles in 11 games with seven tackles for loss and four sacks as a freshman.
Douglas (6-5, 285), who was a freshman All-American left tackle after moving from tight end at Tennessee in 2009, committed to Alabama earlier this week. During his only season at Western Arizona he earned second-team NJCAA All-America honors.
When asked about Douglas' release from Tennessee, Derek Dooley told reporters earlier Friday: "First of all, I wanted to release him. I didn't want to deny a release, which is what we normally do. I thought he needed to get away, and I thought it was good for our team that he wasn't close by, too.
"I thought everybody benefited, that we just get away from the deal for a little bit and I think it worked out well for our team and it worked out well for Aaron. Everybody should be happy."
Dial (6-6, 315) originally signed with the Crimson Tide out of Clay-Chalkville High School in 2008. This past season he was third in team tackles with 76 to go with 3½ sacks. His senior year in high school he was the ASWA's 6A Defensive Lineman of the Year.
"(It's) an area we can use some big strong guys," Coach Nick Saban said Thursday after receiving Dial's paperwork. "We'll just have to see how he develops."
Upshaw coming back
Junior Jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw left no doubt that he won't be entering the NFL Draft a year early.
"I'm planning on coming back to school," he said.
Upshaw, who was limited by an ankle injury this season, isn't even submitting a request with the NFL Underclassmen Advisory Committee, which studies players on film and provides a draft-round projection.
Although he could make the jump early as a third-year player, sophomore guard Barrett Jones isn't considering it either.
"I definitely want to play in the NFL, it's something that I'm working toward. I don't think it's going to be this year," Jones said. "We'll see a year from now, we have a long way to go toward that. So ask me in a year."
According to Rivals affiliate KentSportsReport.com, the three finalists for the head coaching job appear to be Alabama wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Curt Cignetti, Ohio State assistant head coach and wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell and Texas wide receivers coach and assistant recruiting coordinator Bobby Kennedy.
However, money may be a factor in who gets the job, and just because of the salary of the head coach but the assistant coaches as well. Before he stepped down, Doug Martin was making $190,000 per season with numerous possible bonuses, although none was greater than $12,000 for a bowl appearance, and his contract included a buyout if hired away.
Cignetti's base salary at Alabama this season is $250,000.
Not being able to play against Auburn might have caused more emotional pain than physical for Jones, who was sidelined with a high ankle sprain.
Redshirt freshman Anthony Steen stated in his place, but Jones is back practicing at right guard.
"It's going a lot better," Jones said. "There's still a good amount of soreness but it's something I'm going to have to play through and I think I can do that. It's much more functional as far as strength.
"I think the Auburn game it wasn't so much a pain issue, I could have played through the pain, it was so weak. It wasn't very functional. Pushing off, as far as strength goes it was kind of giving out on me."
Junior center William Vlachos (sick) missed his second straight practice. Outside linebackers Jonathan Atchison (left arm) and Adrian Hubbard rode stationary bikes during individual drills.
Sophomore linebacker Nico Johnson said that a lot of players were winded after Thursday's practice, but called Friday morning's part of the two-a-day "high-energy."
"That's Coach Saban," he said. "We've been off for a while and he knew what to expect, a little bit out of shape over the break.
"It was good, other than the cold weather. A little contact once again."
After practicing inside due to the rain Thursday, the Crimson Tide was back outside Friday in chilly and windy conditions.
"These first four days we kind of do like we are starting camp all over again and try to work on a lot of fundamentals," Saban said Thursday. "We've been off a little longer this year than last year so I think it's important to develop timing, tackling, blocking, protection, and timing in the passing game between quarterbacks and receivers. It goes quickly, but it comes back quickly when you haven't been off that long."
There was no media access for the evening practice. The team will return to the fields Saturday afternoon.
"The motivation for this team is to come in and finally get that 60-minute game, from start to finish" Upshaw said. "We want to bounce back from the Auburn game and go out on a good note with a 10-win season."