Dant'a Hightower

ILB/Passrusher Alabama

6-2 5/8, 265, 32 7/8" Arms, 

32" Vert, 4.62 (U), (0) 4.68,

 

 

 

 

It's not Rocket Science.

By TOM

BB spent a third of his picks to trade up for two players. Suddenly, he turned into a trade up radical? I applauded the moves with the passion of a fanatic seeing Super Bowls swirling in my head. Now I know the new Cap rules makes taking player in the First Round cheaper, but this is ridiculous. So why did BB do it? Why the radical change in trading up for these two players?

Itís not Rocket Science! Or is it? He was the Captain of the best defense in college football history. He was maybe the top defensive leader in college football. He is so smart that he is one of those Mike Vrabel guys who not only knows what he has to do, but also knows what everyone on the defense needs to do. "Definitely. I feel like itís going to be more or less about me learning the terminology than learning a whole new defense," Hightower said at his Presser to day. "Which is going to help me excel my game and play a lot faster knowing exactly what to do and how to do it being in a system similar to Coach Belichickís as I was in Coach Sabanís for four years." He already has experience in a BB defense. People always talk about experience in a certain offense, like when Charlie Weis was at Notre Dame. 

Well, it's the same with defenses. He has over three years of starter experience in Saban/BB's defense, and was the guy who made all the checks and calls and knew what everyone else was doing and suppose to be doing. The man has 43 Starts for Alabama at Linebacker in the SEC, and that is as tough as it gets. "I feel like itís because of the style of play that we play. A lot of teams kind of do a lot of run and gun, shotgun stuff, a lot of eye candy," Hightower said. "In the SEC we run the ball, throw the ball, pro style offense, but we still got guys that are big and fast like the other conferences." 

He had four starts in 2009 when he was given a medical Redshirt. He had 12 starts in 2008, when he was the first and only Linebacker to start as a true Freshman. The reason Saban gave? Because he was so smart he new the defense and so he could put him in. And of course, 26 consecutive starts the past two seasons after he came back from that devastating injury, and was named Captain by his teammates for both season. 

Sometimes being labeled with the versatility tag is not good. Sometimes a player is good, tough, and smart that he can play more roles on a defense than can really be expected. "I feel like thatís whatís going to have me on the field a lot this year," Hightower said at his presser. "Me being able to play all the different positions, me knowing all the different positions at Alabama is really what helped me excel my game and get on the field a lot more at such a young age. But thatís something Iím definitely going to use here. My versatility, whether itís getting after the quarterback, getting on the running back, or dropping in coverage, just trying to throw the quarterback off. Hopefully Iíll be able to come into a role a lot like I did at Alabama, but itís definitely going to have to be something Iím more comfortable with before [I get on the field]. Iím hoping Coach Belichick puts me in." Oh, he is going to put you in. 

Nick Saban and BB are notorious for getting together and talking defense. And when you watch Alabama it's like watching a Patriot's 3-4. "I havenít met with Coach Belichick too many times, but just being around him a little bit today and from meeting him at the combine, you can definitely tell those two are two peas in a pod [BB and Saban]," Hightower said. "Everything about them from the way they run the organization to the way they get down and talk to you as a man and put everything out on the table and let you know whatís going on." Including the defenses that were eerily similar to each other as well. 

4th Down Champ Game- Hightower is a clutch guy who made the biggest plays in the biggest game, at the biggest time. Give me those clutch guys in college. They tend to be clutch guys in the NFL. Plus, he made those big plays in different roles doing different things. ďEvery player has his own individual package, whatever it isĒ BB said. ďSome guys do one thing very well, other guys have some versatility, other guys can do a lot of different things. Whatever their deal is, it is, and that's what they come with.Ē He comes with a ton of clutch plays in multiple role. It's one thing to be versatile. It's very rare to be versatile and clutch in multiple roles.

I love Hightower. He not only is a beast on the field. He is smart, and the leader of the best defense in college football history ďIt was a good experience. Growing up with these guys and playing with them for three or four years, it meant a lot and it showed a lot. It shows the caliber that we have as people, as friends, and the caliber of the university that we're putting out as many good players as we are. It has a lot to do with Coach [Nick] Saban, but it has a lot more to do with the way we addressed it.Ē He grew up in college in a championship environment. He won two BCS fake (until they get a playoff system;-) Championships. Though he was injured and didn't play in the first one.  

My question is where do they play him. He is the most physical inside LB Iíve in college in a long time. "I like to watch a lot of film of Patrick Willis, (Brian) Urlacher, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, James Harrison," He said. "A lot of the big name guys that play fast with a high motor." They have two pretty good starter at ILB. He is going to have to be versatile to get on the field as a rookie. But as he gain experience, it is going to become harder and harder to get him off the field. 

Or should I say where do they play Spikes, ďThat would mean a lot to me. I watched Jerod Mayo when he was playing at Tennessee. I've seen a lot of Brandon Spikes with him playing at Florida and us banging heads in the SEC. Playing alongside those guys. Those are two really good inside linebackers and I feel like we could have a really good linebacking corps.Ē If spikes gets injured again early, that could be it for him. Though having three ILB of their skill level, could really help to keep all of them healthy and on the field. Both Mayo, Spikes, and Hightower for that matter, have struggled with injuries. 

He is not the best passrusher, but when he hit a QB, he kills them. He is not the best Passrusher. However, he is the guy that scared QBs the most on that Alabama defense. 

This kid had the three best hits I saw on QB's last year in College football.  "I think Iím tough, physical, hard-nosed. Iím a big hitter," Hightower said. "Iím going to get to the ball. When I get to the ball, Iím going to make sure whoever has the ball or whoever is around the ball, theyíre going to feel me. Iím definitely going to be an intimidator, definitely want to be somebody who, not even the running back or quarterback, but even the offensive linemen want to know where Iím at on the field at all times. Iím definitely going to get to the ball." He is not kidding. When he hits QBs he pretzels them. When they walk off the field, their body is still bent in ways it shouldn't. 

When he legally hits a QB in the NFL, I'm afraid Roger Goodell is going to have a special Hightower Exception. And make anytime he hits the Quarterback illegal. Watching Sports Science, we learned that impact=force X Mass (I donít know if that right I just made that up, but you know what I mean;-). The faster a guy goes the more impact he bring, and the heavier the guy is the more impact he brings itís not rocket science guy (oh wait, it is rocket science;-). He flies to the QB and tackles through the Quarterback. But he moves at speeds into the QB that you just don't see for guys his size. Most rusher are being dragged from behind by O-Linemen, and grab the QB and hold on until they fall. He uses his speed and weight, and has that knack for getting to the QB untouched, and never slows down, but tackle through the QB with on heard of impact. 

His biggest concern might be his old knee injury. He is said to be completely healed from the injury. However, it took him years to get over it, and was accused off favoring the knee even last season. I thought he played with excellent strength and balance that guys with bad knee injuries can't play at. 

Plus, he is smart, and already media savvy. "I didn't really grow up watching NFL football, really," He said before all the Boston Press. "But I watched because of the style of defense and the Patriots were one of those defenses I watched a lot, mainly because we did a lot of the same things. Coach Belichick is a genius when it comes to football, let alone defense, so to play under somebody like that and to gain more knowledge after playing with Coach Saban, that's something that's going to help me and my game a lot.Ē Any misstep in front of those vultures, and he is ragged down within an inch of his life for years, least we forget Brandon Meriweather. Instead, he sounds like he is reading a script from the media relations department. 

Plus, he already sounds like a Patriot. He gets it. He is as smart anybody in this Draft in dealing with the media hordes. He understands he needs a lot of work, and which veterans he needs to follow. "Growing up when Jerod was at Tennessee, I kind of watched him a lot and took back his game and looked up to him a lot," He said. "I know what heís all about. Iíve seen a lot of the success heís had here. As far as Brandon Spikes goes, Iíve seen him for the two years that Alabama and Florida clashed in the SEC Championship for two years in a row. So I know how he plays too. Heís definitely done a really good job here in New England. Iím going to do exactly what I can to get on the field and as far as learning the playbook, Iím going to get into it as hard as I can. Hopefully those guys can help me and take me under their wing and teach me some things. Iím definitely looking forward to getting out there on the field with those guys." Which is his best asset, is that he is so smart. He is always moving towards the right thing to say. He is always moving towards the ball before the snap. He is so big, fast, and strong on the field. The fact that he usually is the smartest guy on the field and under the pressure of the bright lights as well, just isnít fair.

He gets to were the balls going with so much anticipation that it looks like he is reading the future. It is amazing how he just stands in his lane, and it looks like he is out of the play but doesn't chase. Then sudden the Ball carrier comes to him and he gets in on the tackle. There were not a lot of defenders who can anticipate better than Hightower. 

He might not run well with the TE down the Slot a lot, but he wasn't asked to do that a lot, so we have to take what we can get. But when he Zone-Dropped there weren't a lot of ILB who read the QB better. "I dropped all the time. A lot of the teams didnít want to run the ball on us," he said about his experience in coverage. "A lot of people donít understand the coverage or the zone match to it. A lot of people think I donít drop in coverage, but itís just more complicated than it really is. Nine times out of 10, teams donít really want to run the ball on us, so weíd have to go into a sub or down package." I'm telling you he was one on the top ILB in Zone Coverage that I saw last season. You can see him rushing the QB standing up on the outside, with his hand in the dirt as a Wide-9, and of course blitz right up the gut, where Alabama liked to Twist him a lot. 

Plus, we keep coming coming back to the versatile tag. He zone dropped. He covered the Tight End straight up in the Slot. He also covered the Slot Receiver when trapped on the field occasionally. He spied the QB. He lined up at Left Defensive End with his hand in the turf and rushed. ďHe played middle linebacker really, or inside linebacker off the line for Alabama in their base defense and their nickelĒ BB said. ďBut he also played defensive end in their nickel opposite [Courtney] Upshaw, and they were the two defensive ends in their nickel package." He rarely came off the field defensively Just like Ninkovich, I'll call him half a rusher. Against LSU was when I noticed he was putting his hand in the turf and rushing the QB, and did it very well in that game. 

Plus, he not only was a leader on the field, but on the practice field. Teammates raved about his energy in practice, and how when they got tired he was like the energizer bunny hyping everyone up. "You condition yourself in practice and thatís where it starts, He said at his Presser. "You practice how you play. A lot of people say that and donít mean it, but if you donít work hard at practice then youíre not going to do what you do in practice in a game. You canít just turn a switch on in a game. Itís all about how you practice and I definitely take pride in being on the field and all that, especially if itís four downs for special teams. Iím competitive and Iím passionate about football. This is what I like to do. This is what I love to do. Iím going to do whatever I can to be on the field, whether itís special teams for the first couple of games or if Iím on the field for three downs and on punt return or something. Iím going to do what I can to get on the field." Smart, Leader, Captain. The meanest hitter of QBs in the Draft. It's not rocket science. You just take the guy and smile. When does the Season start?

Hightower Vs Tennessee 

He is so respected by defenses. When was the last time you saw an ILB doubled. Plus, he still made the play (:06). He sees it, reads it, and goes and hits the O-Tackle. Not the most effective play, but you can see how even his hits on 300 pound Tackles causes them to move backwards. This guy makes the hits that scare offensive players (:14). Okay Patís fans, this is why he was drafted. He was the best ILB on the best defense in College Football history, and on passing downs put his hand in the turf to rush the QB (19). "My role on this team for three years was to rush the quarterback and to stand up and play linebacker on two downs," Hightower said. "They've kind of seen it on film, but I feel like modeling my game after those guys helps my marketability on that." He has that nice natural burst off the snap to get to the QB. You have to remember, before he hurt his knee might have been the best athlete on the Alabama defense, and that is saying something.

He uses his hands well in the Rush, just not always real effectively. He tends to just use his burst and shove the O-Tackle backwards and try to angle around him. That is about his only move (:25). However, when he knocks a blocker backwards, he really does an exceptional job reacting to the QB after, which is one of the reasons he hasnít developed another move (:33). LILB. He takes on the block from the big O-Lineman. Push-Pulls him a side, and attack the RB. That is a BB ILB (40). Here he is in Zone coverage. Then he lets his teammate know that he had the TE responsibility (:47). He is a power run stuffer, but he is also very effective in the passing game. Very underrated in the passing game ďI would come in on third down and put pressure on the quarterback,Ē He said. ďDepending on down and distance, sometimes I would stand up and drop to be an extra Zoner; sometimes we'd switch up different roles and have me do some of the other stuff.Ē He played every role in coverage, and knew what every other guy was suppose to do. Plus, he let  them know it when they missed assignments. 

He just holds his position as the chaos swirls around him, until he can hit the RB (53). That is a better play than it looks like. He was protecting his lane against the cutback on one of the best cutback runners in college last year. He played up down and all over, and we are back to the versatility tag again. "Iím versatile and I can play all different kinds of positions," He said. "Itís more or less about the scheme and the philosophy. It gets a lot more technical into [it], than what position it is. Iím going to get to the ball and Iím going to make plays at the ball, regardless of whether itís a 4-3 or 3-4." 

Here he is bobbing backwards, and then getting outside on the Screen. However, the RB would rather slip out of bounds then cut back with Hightower running at him (1:03). He doesnít make the play, but is there a more physical ILB this side of Ray Lewis? Watch him take on this block (1:09). He stick the shoulder pads right in the gut of the big O-Guard and knocks him over the ORT, and in the RB. That might be his best hit of the game, and you guys already saw his hit on the puny QB.

Here it is. He has that knack for going unblocked into the QB. He finds the lane right in the middle of the line and blasts off into the QB like a V-1 Rocket (1:15). Just watch and enjoy Patís fan. We will be seeing this a lot (1:22). Like I said above, he is not the best passrusher in the game. He really has two moves, run-free and thump-off-blocker. However, he is the guy that scares QBs the most, because nobody his size can hit the QB running faster and launching than this guy (1:28). He was the one defender on the Alabama defense who hurt SEC QBs with his hits the most.

Takes on the Tackle with his shoulder and gets Sealed (1:33). He is so good at getting in front of the RB with his shoulders squared. Notice how Poole wanted none of that. He practically dived in the dirt when he saw him coming (1:42). This is what we want to see. Nice Blast off the line. Pole comes in and hits his knee. He gets blown up, but shows his unreal balance and athleticism and almost gets to the QB. He is the leader of the defense. He reads a key and is furiously making a check to his teammates (1:53). That is what you want at ILB, a guy who knows where the ball is going before the snap.

Here he is in the Zone. He is underrated in coverage and is very adept at reading the QB and getting into proper position in the Zone drop. He gets outside on the Swing pass, and goes in and makes the play when the RB cuts back (2:00). Just a straight Dive. He goes in and makes the play when the RB decides he isnít down yet (2:09). He is underrated in the Zone. The puny RB dares to make a catch in front of him in coverage. Hulk smash puny human (Okay, is anybody else getting giddy over the Avengers movie? That was my favorite Comic when I was a kid. No, to geeky 2:15;-). Stand up rusher. Nice blast off  (2:26). He goes unblocked again and force the QB to run away and throws it away.

Here he is in coverage again. He drifts back, reads the QBís eyes and hops over to that side (2:40). Stand up rusher. He twists inside. But gets caught because he canít thump the blocker off. But he uses his hand well to keep the blocker off his shirt so he can Spy the QB (2:48). Heís creeping. He sees something. Then he blast off right into the hole Poole is suppose to run (2:57). Here he is as a stand up rusher. This is what we want to see. He gets a nice blast off the line. Thumps the OLT, and uses his hands nicely to shove off the Tackleís arms. He Turns the Corner nicely and gets to the QB as he throws (3:05). That was a nice athletic power rush.. I like that rush.

He makes the big plays at the big times. He sliced in and stopped the QB from behind, or else he rides the wave of blocker for a 1st down (3:17). He sees it, reads it. Moves in front of the RB with his shoulders squared. Uses his hands to Shrug off the blocker. Then crushes the RD back (3:27). That is a clinic in how BB wants his Inside Linebackers to play the run. "A lot of guys that played for Coach Saban in the past and who have come up here to New England say that there are similarities between what theyíve done in college with Coach Saban and what they do in New England," Hightower said.

He sees it, he reads it, and his uses his great feet to get to the QB. Remember that is a 265 pound man (3:32). He lets the other LB Twist inside of him, and then sees the QB Waggling outside. He changes direction, and blasts off in a straight trajectory to where the QB is going to be. Itís like I always say, ďIf you canít anticipate you canít play sports.Ē (3:41). There were not a lot of defenders who can anticipate better than Hightower. 

Passrushing off the edge. He does a little Stunt, and then gets taken out by trash (3:53). Upshaw lines up on the wrong side. He is still directing him over there when the ball is snapped. He is so good at keeping his head in the confusion. And as the ball is snapped when the defense isnít ready. He blasts off and intercepts the RB on his own (4:02). Here he is again, keeping his head in the chaos. He keeps his shoulders squared in the hole and waits for the RB to come to him (4:11). This is what I mean by anticipation. He sees it, reads it. Then he shoots himself into a hole that doesnít exist, were there is no way the RB is running there. Then he intercepts him as the RB rockets right into him (4:17). You canít teach that anticipation. That is just an impossible play. Again, he makes the big plays at the big times, on 3rd and 4th downs.

He is very underrated in coverage (4:24). He drops in the Zone, and then just reads the QBís eyes. Snags the ball out of the air, and makes a break for a pick-six. 

Hightower vs Tennessee-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= xSuM0zyy11M&feature=related

Hightower VS LSU

Setting up the defense. Takes on the block by 74 well with arms extended, but gets blown off the Line (:03). He doesnít exactly have sideline-to-sideline speed (:12). However, watch how he takes on the block of 74 here. That is as physical as it gets (:17). He just has that knack for staying in front of the RB with his shoulders squared (:24). I donít know how they count tackles, but he sure seems to be in a lot of tackles that donít get counted. That is 1.

RILB. Uses his inside arm and feet to keep off the blocker. He as great feet. I give him assist there: 1 Assist (:33). LDE. Play is run away from him (:43). LILB, reads the QBs eyes and attacks the left boundary (:52). RILB. Stays in front of Jefferson and gets an Assist: 2 (:58). MLB. Reads the Option to the RB and fills the hole, but Jefferson kept the ball (1:07). MLB. Zone Drop (1:14). MLB. Sticks with the TE (1:17). LILB. Splits the two O-Linemen and breaks for the sideline (1:22). LILB. Zone drops. Reads the QB. Makes a break on the ball, but just misses (1:28). You can see him eyeing Jefferson. Reads the eyes, and just misses the ball (1:37). He is not going to cover a lot of ground in coverage, but with his smarts, ability to the read the QB, and anticipation, he covers more ground than given credit.

Slot Corner. Shuffles, shuffles, gets his hands on the WR (1:50). He seems to be lining up on the Tight End side. Flows down the line with his shoulders squared and gets the Tackle 2 (1:57). MLB. Playing the Option (2:07). Sam. That is another Assist: 3 (2:14). Falls for the play action (2:42). Gets Sealed, and then gets a cheapshot by the FB (2:58). Setting up the defense. Zone Drop (3:07). LDE. Stunts inside. Thumps back the OG, and almost gets Jefferson (3:14). LILB. He does a great job getting through traffic and pushing off two blockers, and gets an Assist: 4 (3:26). Watch what happens when he hits. Both players go flying backwards (3:36). I love the way when he hits everybody goes flying backwards.

Nickel LB. Zone drop (3:54). WLB, plays to other side of the field (4:06). LILB. Hits the wrong guy (4:14). Nickel LB. Powers the ORT backwards. Nice Bull rush. He shoves Right Tackleís arms off (4:27). On the TE side setting up the defense. Covers the TE down the Seam. Makes a great play on the ball, but canít knock the ball down. But gets the Tackle 3 (4:39). LDE. Watch the power as he pushes the TE back with his arms extended, and shrugs him off. Makes the tackle: 4 (4:59). That is just a terrific play at D-End against the run.

LILB Zone Drop (5:07). Setting up the defense, as nobody seems to know whatís going on. He is the only one who reacts the QB waggling outside and then running. He makes the plays when his team needs him the most, and they needed him here. It looked like all the back seven players had no idea what was going on. I give him an Tackle for forcing Jefferson out of bounds: 5 (5:16). LILB. Stays in front of the RB with his shoulders squared (5:25). LILB. Stays in front of Ware with his shoulders squared and gets an Assist: 5 (5:32). Nickel LB. Well, Mathew40 says it all. Here he is covering the small fast LB on the Seam (5:39). Nice coverage that force Jefferson to scramble. He was eyeing Peterson all the way.

On the TE side. Stays in his lane and gets a hand on the RB but canít bring him down (5:48). LILB. Blitzes right up the gut. Destroys the RB, and forces Jefferson out of the pocket (6:01). They like to Twist him when he blitzes as a LB. He twists inside. Ware steps up for the block. Watch the agility as he skips by him. He gets his hand on the QB, but he just slips away (6:18). He is so well respected by Offenses. He is the ILB on the opposite side of an Option run. Watch as two blocker come out to hit him, and a third is coming out late and eyeing him intently (6:24). Nickel LB. Zone drop (6:29). Okay Pat's Fans here it is. It's not rocket science. when a guy makes makes the big plays at the big times you sign him up! 4th and 18, LDE. On the biggest play, at the biggest time, of the biggest game of the year (6:40). That is a Sack, a Forced Fumble, and a Tackle: 6. Watch this great lateral burst inside the ORT. He is lined up in a Wide-9, and he bursts inside and gets the ORTís inside shoulder. That is beautiful. Then he Rips his way to the Quarterback (6:57). Watch him attack the ball (7:07). He consistently makes the biggest plays at the biggest times, and in the biggest game.

Back at Left D-End. Okay, I was going to talk about his incredible Power (but the ORT just fell down;-). However, watch the agility as he leaps over the Trash (7:42). Beautiful! Takes on the block of the ORT. Reads the play. Sets the Edge. Makes the tackle: 7. BB couldnít have coached it any better (7:51). He just continues to make the Tackles when his team needs him most. At the Sam. Gets a little lost in the traffic. Then he slows down. It looks like he is not trying, but he is reading and anticipating what we canít see. He does that all the time. The play is over and he is nowhere in sight. Then suddenly the QB is running right at him, and gets a Half a Sack when his team needs him the most: 1.5 Sacks and another Assist: 6 (8:03). That was an incredible game. By my count, he garnered 7 Tackles and 6 Assists for 13 Total Tackles, 1.5 Sacks, 1 FF, and came through when his team needed him the most, in the biggest game of the year.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= zFu-TWC0daw

Hightower's Career at Alabama, by Alabama: 

ē Ringleader of the nation's No. 1 defense responsible for play calls and checks
ē Consensus first-team All-American (AFCA, AP, Walter Camp, Rivals.com, Pro Football Weekly)
ē Finalist for the Lombardi Award
ē Finalist for the Butkus Award
ē Finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award
ē Finalist for the Lott Trophy
ē Midseason All-American by CBSsports.com
ē Defense ranks No. 1 in scoring defense (8.8 ppg), rush defense (74.9 ypg) & total defense (191.3 ypg)
ē Lott IMPACT National Player of the Week and SEC Defensive Player of the Week (Tennessee)
ē SEC Defensive Player of the Week (Miss. State)
ē Has 230 career tackles with 19.5 tackles for loss and 25 quarterback hurries while starting 41 career games
ē Eight-time Alabama Defensive Player of the Week
ē Leads the team with a career-high 81 tackles, including 9.5 TFL, three sacks, one interception, three pass breakups, an interception and a blocked field goal

2011 (JUNIOR): Dont'a Hightower is a returning captain and a leader of the Crimson Tide's vaunted defense that ranks No. 1 nationally in all five major categories ... UA leads the country in scoring defense (8.8 ppg), first in total defense (191.3 ypg), first in rushing defense (74.9 ypg), first in pass efficiency defense (83.9 ypg) and first in pass defense (116.3 ypg) ... a consensus first-team All-American by the Associated Press, AFCA and Walter Camp as well as Rivals.com and Pro Football Weekly ... a finalist for the Lombardi Award, Chuck Bednarik Award, the Butkus Award and the Lott Trophy ... a leading candidate for first-team All-America honors ... leads the team with a career-best 81 tackles, including 37 solo stops ... has three sacks (-16 yards) and 9.5 tackles for loss (-35 yards) ... also has eight quarterback hurries, one interception, one blocked field goal and three pass breakups ... started all 12 games at mike linebacker and 41 during his Crimson Tide career ... can also move to the outside on passing downs to rush the passer ... an eight-time UA coaching staff player of the week and the SEC Defensive Player of the Week following the Tennessee and Mississippi State games ... named the Lott IMPACT National Player of the Week for his performance against the Vols ... has at least five tackles in 11 of 12 games this season ... has 41 tackles in the last five games with 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Kent State: Second on the team in tackles with seven ... had four solo tackles and half of a sack for minus-four yards ... registered one quarterback hurry in the Tide's 48-7 win. Penn State: Had four tackles in the Tide's win over the No. 23 Nittany Lions ... was credited with an additional quarterback hurry in the coach's tape. North Texas: Had five tackles with three solo stops in the 41-0 shutout of the Mean Green ... had a season-best two tackles for loss (-6 yards) and one quarterback hurry as the Tide limited UNT to 169 total yards and just 68 yards rushing ... earned Defensive Player of the Week honors from the UA coaching staff. Arkansas: Registered a team-best nine tackles ... had two tackles for loss for the second straight game, dropping the Hogs behind the line of scrimmage for a total of eight yards ... helped hold the Razorbacks to just 17 yards rushing and 291 yards below their season average entering the game. Florida: Made five tackles with three solo stops as the Tide held the powerful Gator rushing attack to just 15 yards. Vanderbilt: For the second straight game made five tackles with two solo stops this time ... held Vandy to just 190 total yards, including just 41 on the ground. Mississippi: Recorded five tackles and half of a tackle for loss (-1 yard) against the Rebels ... helped UA record 14 tackles for loss as a team ... had his third quarterback hurry of the season as the Tide held UM to 141 total yards and just 28 rushing yards. Tennessee: Selected as the Lott IMPACT National Player of the Week and the SEC Defensive Player of the Week after his showing against the Volunteers ... had eight tackles with a sack ... also intercepted a UT pass and returned in 29 yards inside the Vols' 10-yard line ... recorded three quarterback hurries and broke up two passes as his defense helped limit his home-state Volunteers to just 155 total yards in a 37-6 win. LSU: Made seven tackles and recorded two quarterback hurries ... had four solo stops as the Tide limited the Tigers offense to just 239 yards of offense ... selected as the UA Defensive Player of the Week. Mississippi State: Equaled his career high with 11 tackles while helping to limit the Bulldogs to 131 total yards and just 12 yards rushing ... had a career-best 2.5 tackles for loss (-10 yards) and a career-high 1.5 sacks (-9 yards) ... also broke up a pass and earned SEC and Alabama Defensive Player of the Week accolades. Georgia Southern: Blocked the first field goal of the year, which was returned for a touchdown ... made six tackles while starting his 40 career game. Auburn: Recorded nine tackles with one tackle for a loss of three yards ... had a season-high six solo stops ... helped limited the Tigers to just 140 total yards ... AU had just 44 yards --- 25 rushing -- through three quarters and gained the rest after the Tide had already locked up the win in the fourth quarter.

2010 (SOPHOMORE): Hightower returned to the field in 2010 after a season-ending knee injury against Arkansas in 2009 ... earned second-team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press and SEC coaches ... finished second on the team with 69 tackles, including 30 solo stops ... had nine quarterback hurries and three pass breakups ... forced teams to be aware of his presence on every play ... started the first three games at mike linebacker before sliding back over to his original will spot in the last 10 games and saw his production skyrocket. San Jose State: Made his first career start at mike linebacker ... recorded three tackles with two solo stops ... made the first tackle of the game for the Tide. Penn State: Had just five tackles with four assisted stops but wreaked havoc on the Nittany Lion defense ... a first-half quarterback pressure resulted in a floater that Will Lowery intercepted inside the Tide's five-yard line ... also registered one pass breakup. Duke: Made a then-season-high eight tackles -- five solos -- in a 62-13 rout of the Blue Devils in Durham ... selected as a Defensive Player of the Week by the coaching staff. Arkansas: Started at will linebacker for the first time in 2010 ... made three solo tackles and one assist as the defense stiffened in the second half of the Tide's comeback win. Florida: Recorded six tackles -- three solos -- in the 31-6 win over the Gators ... provided consistent pressure on UF quarterback John Brantley with two quarterback hurries and one pass breakup ... led a defense that allowed 79 yards rushing and 283 total yards. South Carolina: Made five total tackles with two solo stops. Mississippi: Totaled five tackles with three solo stops ... affected the quarterback throughout the game and registered two quarterback hurries ... helped hold the Rebels to 243 yards of total offense and 133 yards passing. Tennessee: Finished with six tackles, including three solo stops ... added a season-high 1.5 tackles for loss (-3 yards) ... had two quarterback hurries and one pass breakup as the Tide limited the Volunteers to 156 yards passing. LSU: Recorded a team-high 10 tackles with two solo stops ... made one tackle for a loss of four yards ... added his eighth quarterback hurry of the season. Mississippi State: Made eight total tackles as the Crimson Tide limited the No. 17 Bulldogs to 299 total yards. Georgia State: Played just under a half against the Panthers in a 63-7 win ... made three tackles as the Tide limited GSU 165 total yards and 91 rushing. Auburn: Made four total tackles with three solo stops in the Iron Bowl ... logged one tackle for loss on Tigers' quarterback Cam Newton ... helped limit AU's offense to 324 total yards and 200 yards below its rushing average. Michigan State: Registered two tackles in the Crimson Tide 49-7 win over the Spartans in the Capital One Bowl ... helped Alabama limit MSU to 171 total yards, including -48 rushing, the second-lowest rushing yield in school history.

2009 (MEDICAL REDSHIRT): He started the first four games at will linebacker before a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against Arkansas ended his season ... took a helmet to the knee on a cut block ... before his injury he also spent time at the jack linebacker in many passing situations ... made 16 tackles, four tackles for loss (-7) and one sack (-4). Virginia Tech: Made six tackles with two solo stops ... notched a tackle for loss (-1) and broke up one Tyrod Taylor pass. Florida International: Had three solo tackles and six total stops, while registering his first sack of the season (-4) and 2.5 total tackles for loss ... also had two quarterback hurries. North Texas: Started and made two assisted tackles in limited action in a 53-7 win over UNT. Arkansas: Made two assisted tackles in the first half before an injured knee ended his season.

2008 (FRESHMAN): Hightower was one of two true freshmen to be regular starter for the Crimson Tide in 2008 ... the freshman started 12 games while playing in all 14 ... a Freshman All-American by the FWAA at linebacker ... second-team Freshman All-American by The Sporting News ... also a midseason Freshman All-America selection by Rivals.com ... a Freshman All-SEC selection by league coaches ... finished with 64 tackles - 26 solos - to rank fourth on the team ... also had one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries ... had at least one tackle in each game and had five or more stops in seven of 14 games, including 10 against Tulane and a career-high 11 at LSU ... recorded six quarterback hurries. Clemson: Hightower started at will linebacker and made one solo tackle ... also recovered a fumble on his first series at linebacker. Tulane: He notched the first double-digit tackle game of his young career with 10 total stops and five solo tackles against the Green Wave ... also forced a Tulane fumble. Western Kentucky: Hightower's playing time was reduced as the Crimson Tide spent much of the game in nickel and dime defensive packages ... made one tackle against the Hilltoppers. Arkansas: He notched five total tackles with two solo stops in the Tide's 49-14 win over the Razorbacks. Georgia: Hightower made two assisted tackles against the No. 3 Bulldogs ... also picked up an A.J. Green fumble out of midair and returned it eight yards to set up a second quarter Crimson Tide touchdown ... helped the Tide defense hold Georgia to just 50 yards rushing. Kentucky: He registered five tackles with two solo stops as Alabama surrendered just 35 yards rushing on 20 attempts ... Hightower also had one quarterback hurry that forced one of 22 incompletions from Wildcats' quarterback Mike Hartline. Mississippi: Hightower was second on the team with six tackles as the Tide posted a 24-20 win over the Rebels. Tennessee: He led the team with seven tackles, including three solo stops ... had one tackle for loss (-4) ... helped the Crimson Tide hold the Volunteers to just 36 yards rushing, the fifth team this season to have 50 or less rushing yards. Arkansas State: Hightower logged five total tackles with three solo stops in a 35-0 shutout of the Red Wolves ... helped limit ASU to just 158 yards of total offense. LSU: He recorded a career-best 11 tackles, including two solo stops ... also made a career-best 1.5 TFL (-2) ... his 11 tackles were the most for either team. Mississippi State: Hightower made two tackles with one solo stop in the Crimson Tide's 32-7 win over Mississippi State ... he helped the Tide defense limit the Bulldogs to just 35 yards rushing and 167 total yards. Auburn: He notched four assisted tackles against the Tigers ... aided the Tide defense in holding Auburn to just 57 rushing yards, including just eight yards on the ground in the second half. Florida: Hightower made three solo tackles against the No. 2 Gators ... helped limit UF to almost 100 yards below their season average for total yards ... had one of three quarterback hurries on UF signal-caller Tim Tebow. Sugar Bowl vs. Utah: He did not start as the Crimson Tide opened in a dime defense ... registered two solo tackles and logged one quarterback hurry ... saw action at both weak-side linebacker and jack linebacker.

HIGH SCHOOL AND PERSONAL DATA: He was named the state's defensive MVP by The Nashville Tennessean ... listed on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Super Southern 100 ... earned a four-star rating from Rivals.com and Scout.com ... was Class 3A Mr. Football in Tennessee and voted first-team Tennessee Sports Writers Association All-State ... the No. 2 player in the state of Tennessee according to SuperPrep magazine ... member of The Nashville Tennessean's Dream Team ... selected to play in the U.S. Army East-West All-Star game in San Antonio ... the state of Tennessee's No. 3 overall player according to Rivals.com ... Rivals.com's No. 15 inside linebacker in the country ... listed as the No. 39 player overall in The Mobile Press-Register's Super Southeast 120 ... No. 95 player on the Scout.com Southeast 150 list ... recorded 168 tackles (14 for loss), five forced fumbles, five interceptions and four fumble recoveries as a senior ... also had 875 yards and 19 touchdowns on offense.

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