August 27, 2007

Hall, Brown sidelined for opener

The Alabama football team will open the Nick Saban Era minus 77 tackles and 583 receiving yards from the 2006 season. But these subtractions aren't the result of any twisted ankle or shoulder sprain.
Saban announced Monday that linebacker Prince Hall and wide receiver Keith Brown have been suspended for the Western Carolina game for a violation of team rules.

Hall's suspension means Alabama's starting quartet of linebackers for the WCU game - Keith Saunders, Rolando McClain, Ezekial Knight and Darren Mustin - will enter with a grand total of zero career collegiate starts at linebacker. Hall, the most experienced of the group, made eight starts last season.

Although neither Saban nor any players made any mention during camp of disciplinary measures, signs that things weren't quite right with both Hall and McClain were obvious. Hall practiced with the freshmen rather than the varsity on the first day of practice, and worked with the second-string unit for much of Fall camp. Brown also worked with the backup groups at receiver, despite being the team's second-most productive receiver just a season ago.

McClain was unavailable for comment as true freshmen are not permitted to give interviews under staff policy.

The loss of Brown should be less of a blow than Hall, given the Crimson Tide's depth at the receiver position. Mike McCoy, Nikita Stover and Matt Caddell have each been singled out for good camp performances at least once by Saban in recent weeks. With 43 career receptions, Caddell is plenty experienced to play a larger role.

NOTE - Coming soon on BOL: How to teammates believe Rolando McClain will respond to opening the season as a true freshman starter at linebacker? Matt Scalici will have that story later.

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