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TUESDAY, APRIL 17, 2007
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West Morgan's Walton in running to play nose tackle
Broken hand slows Tide sophomore

TUSCALOOSA (AP) — The nose tackle has emerged as the anchor of new Alabama coach Nick Saban's defensive plan. As spring training winds down, it's still uncertain who will fill that role.

Third-year sophomore Lorenzo Washington, redshirt freshman Brian Motley and sophomore Byron Walton are names in the mix for the position, which must clog the middle, a crucial role in Saban's scheme.

"Everything starts there," said Washington.

But Washington, a 6-foot-5, 285-pounder who attended Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia before enrolling at Alabama, underwent pectoral surgery in January and has not been involved in contact.

"I've never even seen him strike a blow," Saban said.

West Morgan graduate Walton, who is 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds, also has been set back by a broken hand.

And Motley, a 6-foot-1, 284-pounder from Autaugaville, is a converted center who was asked to become a defensive tackle just a day before spring drills began.

"It's a dramatic change, but I'm getting used to it," Motley told The Birmingham News in a story Monday.

"It's a little bit more physical and you're taking on more responsibility. I'm just trying to get my feet back under me."

With the uncertainties of spring, two defensive

line signees from Hoover, Kerry Murphy and Josh Chapman, could be factors in August.

Washington, a highly sought recruit, wants to make an impact this fall, but not necessarily in the manner of NFL behemoths who are the prototypical nose tackle.

"Those are guys who play the run, then they bring in guys for third down," Washington said.

"I think I'm an all-down type of guy. And contrary to what people think, I'm not that small. People say 260, 270 pounds. I'm 285. And yeah, it's a little about size, but it's a lot about want-to."

Motley began drawing attention last year working with offensive lineman. They wondered why he wasn't on defense.

"He had the quickest feet out of all of us," said guard Justin Britt, a graduate of Cullman High.

Motley "has been on the most improved players this spring," Saban said.

"He's been one the pleasant surprises for us, and we hope he can continue to improve."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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