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SATURDAY, AUGUST 4, 2007
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Walton to assist Tide's coaches
Muscle condition ends playing days

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — During the 2006 football season, former Alabama defensive lineman and West Morgan High grad Byron Walton knew something wasn't quite right.

Every time he pushed himself, more and more fatigue set in. And then he felt it sooner, and sooner.

During the summer, the 6-foot-3, 299-pound Walton started blacking out during workouts, having to be carried into the training room. His urine became a stream of blood. After one training session, his kidneys almost shut down. That was when the inkling of an issue became a real problem.

Walton was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a condition that breaks down the muscles during times of overexertion in which muscles release toxins into the blood. In some cases, it can cause kidney failure.

As long as it is monitored and the patient keeps a relaxed lifestyle, it can be treated, medical experts say. His condition was recurring.

After consulting with The University of Alabama's medical staff, head coach Nick Saban and his parents, Walton
decided to end his football career.

"I was depressed about it for a little while," Walton said.

"I had high hopes for the season, but at the same time I want to look towards my future
and not take that risk
where something could happen to me."

The announcement, which came by Saban on Thursday, ended Walton's brief stint on Alabama's defensive front.

As a senior at West Morgan in 2005, Walton had 45 tackles
and four sacks while garnering Class 1A-3A All-Area honors.

Last season, his redshirt freshman year at Alabama, he played two snaps, one against Louisiana-Monroe and
one against Florida International.

But with few players returning on Alabama's defensive line for the 2007 season, he was expected to compete for more playing time.

Now, Walton will help out with coaching duties.

He is assisting Saban and his staff with the front seven, an area the coach described as "thin" heading into the year.

When asked whether he will utilize his increased free time to work towards his degree in management information systems, Walton said yes.

“It gives me more time to concentrate more on my grades,” he says.

While Walton cannot practice as a player, he wants to be part of the team the rest of his college days.

Along with his illness, Walton’s newest issue is his transition from student-athlete to student.

“I am thankful he is able to do something with football even though he may not be out there playing football,” said Walton’s mother, Elaine Hylick. “He still has an involvement. He doesn’t have to take a chance on any kind of injuries. I’m OK with it and happy for him that his career will go in a different direction.”

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