News from the Tennessee Valley Sports



TUSCALOOSA — Alabama players are eager to play Saturday's game in Jacksonville, Fla., against Florida State for several reasons.

For starters, the game — which is being dubbed The River City Showdown — has something of a bowl atmosphere. Also, SEC pride will be on the line when the two teams face each other.

"It's kind of cool to go down there and represent the SEC and show them what we got," said defensive end Bobby Greenwood.

When asked about the hype surrounding the game, defensive end Wallace Gilberry said there were some similarities to a bowl, but not many.

"At a bowl game, you're there a week," Gilberry said. "You can enjoy the sight-seeing and this and that. This game is more 'let's go in, let's take care of business, and let's go home.' "

Alabama and Florida State split the tickets for the game 50/50.

  • Florida State has demoted linebacker Geno Hayes to second team, and he will not start Saturday.

    Last Friday, Hayes was arrested and charged with assault on an officer, resisting arrest without violence and disorderly conduct.

    Head coach Bobby Bowden said that while Hayes will not start, he will play. Hayes is second on the Seminoles with 19 tackles.

  • Alabama coach Nick Saban said that while sometimes there are misunderstandings between him and reporters, he wouldn't take his anger to the length that Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy did.

    After OSU's 49-45 victory over Texas Tech last weekend, Gundy blasted columnist Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman for an article about Cowboys quarterback Bobby Reid. Gundy left his postgame news conference after his rant about the column and didn't address the game.

    "Everybody should have a professional attitude with how you develop relationships and how you talk and so that everybody can understand both sides of it," Saban said. "Not do it publicly but have somebody come in and just talk to them one on one so they can understand me a little better."

    Josh Cooper,
    Daily Sports Writer


    AUBURN — Josh Thompson couldn't think of any other way to propose to his girlfriend but on the football field in a sweaty game jersey with his helmet by his side.

    "I thought it would be exciting to do it that way," said Thompson, a senior defensive tackle for Auburn. "I don't have all the money to go take her to nice places or anything."

    Following Auburn's 55-20 win over New Mexico State, the team huddled near the southwest corner of Pat Dye Field, surrounding Thompson and Renee Steptoe, his girlfriend of six years. Thompson dropped to a knee and popped the question.

    Plastered on Auburn's video scoreboard and in front of the remaining Tiger fans, Steptoe said yes before bursting into tears. Cheers filled Jordan-Hare Stadium as the Auburn band began playing the fight song.

    "I was pretty sure that she would say yes," Thompson said. "I wouldn't have done it like this if there was any thought of her saying no."

    Thompson and Steptoe have been dating since high school. He said the proposal had been planned for this week — win or lose.

    "I don't know what would have happened if we would have lost," he said.

    Thompson told two or three of his teammates before the game. They spread the word as the game ended, gathering everyone for the affair. Thompson's parents, who knew of the plan, escorted Steptoe from their seats and onto the field.

    "I got a little nervous right there towards when it was going to happen," Thompson said.

    Thompson bought the ring Wednesday and gave it to one of his weightlifting coaches at halftime of the game for safe keeping.

    "I told him, 'You better not lose it,' " Thompson said. "She liked the ring, thank goodness.

    "It was her style of ring," he added. "It wasn't the cheapest in the world."

  • Linebacker Tray Blackmon practiced Thursday. Blackmon, who has been suffering from a lingering ankle injury, is probable for Saturday's game.

    "Tray practiced better today, looked better," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville told reporters Thursday.

    Tuberville is uncertain if running back Tristan Davis will play. He fractured a toe during preseason practice. Davis has practiced with the team since Tuesday after doctors cleared him.

    "He's going to need another 48 hours," Tuberville said. "We're going to run him again tomorrow, try to get more work done on that leg."

  • Briarwood Christian quarterback Barrett Trotter committed to Auburn on Thursday becoming the Tigers' 15th recruit of the 2008 class.

    Trotter, a 6-foot-2, 193-pounder, considered offers from Troy, Duke, UAB, Samford and Army, but his affection for Auburn won.

    "I've been going down to camp at Auburn since my 10th grade year, so I was pretty familiar with the coaches, and they were pretty familiar with me," Trotter told

    Trotter has thrown for 976 yards and 12 touchdowns in four games this season, leading Birmingham's Briarwood Christian to a 4-0 record. Auburn offered Trotter a scholarship Sunday.

    Trotter told he likes the quarterback situation at Auburn. Starter Brandon Cox will graduate following this season. Kodi Burns and Neil Caudle will be sophomores next season. Blake Field will be a senior.

    Trotter joins Deron Furr as the second quarterback recruit this season.

    "I'm not one of those guys that's going to come in and expect to start right off the bat," Trotter said. "If there's a need for me to come in and help out, I'll be more than glad to do that."

    Ross Dellenger,
    Daily sports writer

    South Carolina

    COLUMBIA, S.C. — It's about as routine and expected as the leaves changing colors in the fall — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is shuffling quarterbacks.

    This time, it's senior Blake Mitchell on the bench — again — and redshirt freshman Chris Smelley under center to lead the 16th-ranked Gamecocks (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) against Mississippi State on Saturday. And Smelley knows if can't cut it, Spurrier will find someone else who will.

    "I guess everybody's got to be prepared," Smelley said this week, "because you never know when you're going to get your shot."

    Or lose it.

    "Playing quarterback for him is not always easy," said former Gator and current ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer. "But in my opinion it was always rewarding."


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville linebacker Willie A. Williams was kicked off the team Thursday, less than 24 hours after his arrest on a marijuana possession charge.

    The 22-year-old was dismissed for violating his agreement with athletic director Tom Jurich.

    "I'm very disappointed in Willie," Jurich said in a statement. "I was confident that he had turned the corner in his life and was ready to be a valuable contributor to society and our football program."

    Williams was one of the top recruits in the country two years ago, but highly publicized legal problems in high school — 11 arrests — nearly cost him a scholarship to Miami. He never panned out with the Hurricanes and spent last year at West Los Angeles Community College.

    Notre Dame

    CINCINNATI — Former Notre Dame quarterback Demetrius Jones enrolled Thursday at No. 24 Cincinnati, where he'll be eligible to run their no-huddle, spread offense next season.

    Jones started Notre Dame's season opener against Georgia Tech and fumbled twice in the 33-3 defeat — the worst opening loss in Irish history. He was one of three quarterbacks who failed to get their foundering offense moving.

    The Associated Pres


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

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