News from the Tennessee Valley Sports



SHREVEPORT, La. — Alabama has tapped Austin high graduate Juwan Simpson and Le'Ron McClain as the Tide's team captains for the 2006 football season.

Upon returning to Tuscaloosa, the pair will dip their hands in cement in front of Denny Chimes as is tradition.

"It is a blessing, honor and privilege," Simpson said. "It is something I will always have in my memory. I am excited, I fought hard this season, tried to lead the team every week. I am excited that my peers recognize that."

Simpson finished second on the team with 73 tackles. McClain had 53 yards on 10 rushes, but produced one of the biggest plays of the Tide season when he caught a 2-yard touchdown pass to lift Alabama over Ole Miss 26-23 in overtime this season.

Last game for Castilles: Alabama fullback Tim Castille is hardly at a loss for words, but the thought of not playing with his brother, Simeon, on the same team made Tim almost speechless.

"It's going to be weird because we might never play together again," said Tim, a senior. "It'll be different because I've been playing with him for so long. It's going to be weird because my brother is my best friend."

Simeon, a junior, played varsity with Briarwood Christian in ninth grade along with Tim, who is a year older.

The only time Tim did not have Simeon as a teammate in recent years was as a freshman at Alabama

"I think about my brother," Simeon said. "I also think about that and how I want to be able to remember this being our last collegiate game together."

What doesn't kill me makes me stronger: Senior running back Kenneth Darby said he wouldn't take back anything that has happened during the past five years.

Darby is one of the few players on Alabama who has experienced the four head coaches — Dennis Franchione, Mike Price, Mike Shula and Joe Kines — but said he leaves with no regrets.

"The only thing I thought about was coming here and starring as a freshman," the Huntsville-Butler High graduate said. "I won't take nothing back or replace anything because it helped me grow up as a person."

Josh Cooper,
Daily Sports Writer

Saban says no comment, again: The latest from Nick Saban regarding the vacant Alabama coaching job: no comment.

"I'm just making a rule to never comment on something like that again because every time you comment on it, it just makes for another story," Saban said Wednesday. "So I'm not going to comment on it five years from now, and I'm not going to comment on it next week."

The Miami Dolphins coach was asked about the Alabama job during a conference call with reporters in Indianapolis. Miami (6-9) concludes its season Sunday at Indy.

Reports linking Alabama and Saban began circulating last month, soon after the Crimson Tide fired Mike Shula as coach. Saban has repeatedly denied interest in the job.

"I'm not going to be the Alabama coach," he said last week.

The Associated Press


DALLAS — Auburn's Jerraud Powers sat on a table just off the field at Southern Methodist University's football field as he talked with reporters about Nebraska's West Coast offense.

And then a reporter grabbed Powers' nametag, provided by Cotton Bowl officials. And then the cat was out of the bag.

Jerraud Powers is not Jerraud. According to the name scribbled across the name badge, he's actually Courtney Powers.

"That's my first name," said Powers, a defensive back from Decatur. "They got me. Not too many people know me by Courtney."

At least one person wishes Powers would go by Courtney — wide receiver Courtney Taylor. "I guess he wants me to be like him," Powers said. "I already told him I don't want to be anything like Courtney Taylor."

Nevertheless, Taylor isn't offended his young friend won't go by Courtney.

"There are too many Courtneys already," Taylor said. "He knows his name. I don't think he likes that name too much."

Bennett progresses: Auburn tight end Cole Bennett is progressing daily, getting closer and closer to the shape he was in before breaking his ankle against LSU on Sept. 16.

"Stability-wise, it's fine," Bennett said. "I don't really have the endurance I had before so we're trying to build that back up.

"Right now, I'm just getting used to running and cutting and all that stuff. Medically, I'm 100 percent."

However, endurance isn't all that Bennett is building by getting back on the practice field. Bennett needed this period for his mental state as much as anything

"It's a huge confidence booster to go out there and know I can still do it and know what I have to work on in the off season," Bennett said. "It's a big mental thing for me knowing I can still do it."

A chance for respect: Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox knows exactly when Auburn's season changed, at least from an offensive standpoint.

Sept. 16 against LSU.

"Looking back at it, our first two games, we put up big numbers, put up big points," said Cox, who has had a range of injuries since that time. "Since LSU, everyone's been banged up. A lot has to do with injuries."

And now the team is healthy, having taken advantage of having more than a month off since its last game and getting four days off to celebrate Christmas.

"Hopefully, we can put up some good numbers and earn some respect from everybody," Cox said.

Bradley Handwerger,
Daily Sports Writer


ORLANDO, Fla. — Arkansas fullback Peyton Hillis will miss Monday's Capital One Bowl with a bruised thigh, coach Houston Nutt conceded Wednesday.

"He's done. I hate to say it," Nutt said after practice. "Doesn't look good. It's just too big of a calcium buildup in that thigh. It's just like a bone in there. He can't get it stretched out. It's just a shame. I'm really sorry for him."

Hillis has missed the No. 12 Razorbacks' last three games, two of which were losses. They play No. 6 Wisconsin on New Year's Day.

Nutt said Tuesday that Hillis still had "a little ways to go" but that his condition was improved. On Wednesday, Nutt initially said Hillis' status "doesn't look good" — but when asked again, the coach made it clear how bleak the situation was.

Hillis has only 13 carries this season, but he's tied for second on the team with 19 catches. He also has been a dependable punt returner and a key blocker for 1,000-yard rushers Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

The Associated Press

Texas A&M

SAN DIEGO — Jorvorskie Lane has the chance to dance his way into Holiday Bowl lore.

"He is a unique athlete. He would be a great ballerina because his feet are as good as any big man I've ever seen," Texas A&M coach and former Tide coach Dennis Franchione said Wednesday, a day before his No. 21 Aggies face the No. 20 California Golden Bears at Qualcomm Stadium.

The mental image of a 6-foot, 274-pound tailback in tights might be a bit much to handle, but Aggies (9-3) fans have gotten used to the sight of him plowing into the end zone.

Lane tied a 79-year-old school record with 19 rushing touchdowns this year and will be one of the players to watch in the Holiday Bowl.

"He is a big guy that can get going downhill. He's a load to stop," Franchione said.

The Associated Press

Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
AP contributed to this report.

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