Injured Barron Elects To Return

Mark Barron would not speculate on what he might have done had he not been injured in the final regular season game of the year, but his physical situation almost certainly factored into his decision to return to Alabama for his senior season.

Mark Barron, called by Alabama Coach Nick Saban "a great player for us, as productive as any player on our team, including those going out," announced Saturday that he would not enter the National Football League draft.

"My decision is to come back and play for the Alabama Crimson Tide," Barron said.

He called it a difficult decision because it "has always been my dream to play in the NFL" and it is his intention "to give back to my family." But, he said, he is comfortable that he made the correct decision.

By coming back, he said, he would "be closer to earning a degree, have the opportunity to win another national championship, and have a chance to improve my draft status."

Saban said that another year at Alabama will "probably propel Mark into being the top player in the nation at his position."

Saban said that Barron had improved every year and that his leadership was evident in that he was elected a team captain in 2010 as a junior. The coach pointed out that Barron had been the leader of a secondary in which all other starters were newcomers.

Barron suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the first half of the Auburn game. He continued to play even though "it was painful because I didn't realize how serious it was," Barron said. He had surgery in early December. He is now in rehabilitation. Saban said it is possible that Barron will "participate in some degree" in spring practice, which begins March 21 and ends with the A-Day Game April 16, but that would be a decision by medical staff.

Barron was not able to participate in Alabama's 49-7 win over Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl. Nevertheless, he led Alabama with 75 tackles on the season. He also had three interceptions and has 10 interceptions for his career.

Barron was first team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America, a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award given to the nation's best defensive back, and a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy given to the nation's best defensive player.

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