News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Stover on his Tide academic, athletic career: I made it

By Josh Cooper 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — For any who doubts Nikita Stover's academic ability, Nikita Stover has a message for you:

"I'm going to graduate here in December."

Now an Alabama wide receiver, the Hartselle High grad sat down after practice Tuesday to talk about a variety of subjects, and the conversation drifted to his classes, with Stover rattling off his thoughts on Julius Caesar and his great nephew Augustus in his Western civilization class. Or about how he wants to parlay his sports management major into coaching or owning his own business somewhere down the road.

"People doubted me going to junior college," Stover said. "I look at those people and laugh now because people who doubted me now, they're like, 'He made it.' "

For those who may forget, Stover didn't meet all the NCAA academic qualifications coming out of Hartselle in 2004 and wound up at Itawamba (Miss.) Community College.

He redshirted one of his two years there, got eligible and came to Alabama in 2006 as a sophomore in eligibility.

At LSU last season, Stover caught his first Tide touchdown pass. Then against Auburn, he caught five passes for 101 yards.

He will try to duplicate those games and his solid outing last weekend when Alabama (4-2, 2-1 SEC) takes on Ole Miss (2-4, 0-3) on Saturday.

Against Houston on Saturday, Stover caught a 23-yard touchdown pass. It was only his second catch of the season, but Stover was featured more prominently in the Tide's offense in that game.

And after Stover found his way into the end zone, he unveiled his new touchdown celebration, something he called the "creeping," when he sort of waddled around. It was different from his web shooting-like celebration in high school he called "Spider-man."

"For some reason, when I catch a deep ball, I do that," Stover said. "It's just a habit. Somebody noticed, 'Whenever you catch a ball deep, you always do that,' and I noticed that, too."

It had been some time since Stover reached the end zone. His last touchdown reception came against Auburn in last year's Iron Bowl.

It even had been a while since Stover last caught a pass, which was the first game of the season, against Western Carolina.

Judging by his hot finish in 2006, Stover appeared as if he would be a solid option for the Crimson Tide offense this year.

But when the season started Mike McCoy emerged to start opposite DJ Hall, and Matt Caddell produced big numbers against Arkansas.

But Stover did not fret. Instead, he went back to work and bettered himself in other facets of the game. For example, Stover said he prides himself on his blocking.

"It's just overpowering somebody and knowing that it's helping the team," Stover said. "It's paying off with people talking about my blocking and helping Glen (Coffee) and Terry (Grant) run the ball, which sets up our passing game."

And with Alabama coach Nick Saban's recent edict that those who play well in practice will see game action, Stover is hoping Saturday won't be the last time he creeps around the end zone.

"If we work hard, they are going to reward us, and that is what I felt last week," Stover said.

"So, that is what I am trying to do from here on out."

Alabama at Ole Miss

11:45 a.m.

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