Square Honored To Be Saban Recruit
Alabama Defensive End Damion Square came to Tuscaloosa from Yates High School in Houston. His head coach was Clarence McKinney. McKinney is now coach of the running backs for Texas A&M under new head coach Kevin Sumlin.
"He sent me to Tuscaloosa because he knew what Coach Saban's system would do for me," Square said. "And he knows you have to bring it every Saturday in the SEC."
Square, a 6-3, 286-pound fifth year senior, will be starting for the third year at defensive end for Bama this year. He said when he was being recruited that "some coaches would sell their program, some would sell themselves, and Coach Saban sold his system."
What about that system?
"You could Google it," said Square. "All the championships, all the All-Americans, all the NFL draft choices. You know in his system you are going to have a highlevel of success. Saban goes after guys who will be pieces in the puzzle of his system. It just so happens that we're also great players."
He said that players consider it an honor to be recruited by Saban. He noted, "There are a lot of five stars in the building, so it doesn't mean anything. You have to earn it every day."
Alabama suffered serious losses from the 2011 defense that led the nation in every statistical category en route to the national championship. Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Dont'a Hightower were first round draft choices, and Bama also lost the likes of Courtney Upshaw, Josh Chapman, and DeQuan Menzie. Nevertheless, Square said one reason to expect Alabama to have another good defense in 2012. "Coach Saban recruited every player on our roster and he recruited great players to replace those great players, just as he had great players ready to step in for Rashad Johnson, Javier Arenas, and Rolando McClain after the 2009 national championship.
"We lost great players from last year's team, but the players on this year's team will be great, too."
Although Square had been injured in 2009 and didn't play in the national championship game against Texas, he said, "That was one of the best years of my life." He said he had never thought about the possibility of playing against Texas A&M and is glad he is going to have that in his Bama career "since I'm from Houston, an hour and 30 from Texas A&M. I'm from Aggieland."
For most in the Alabama camp, the thought of the 2010 team between the 2009 and 2011 national championships is not a good feeling. But Square said the reason Bama won't have a falloff in 2012 is "because of 2010. We won't let it happen again. We know the things that went wrong and we'll leave those things at the door. They won't come into our building."
He said that Saban doesn't talk about repeating as national champion. "We've got a lot of guys on this team who will win their first national championship [if it happens in 2012]," he said. "For them, it's not repeating. Last year was last year. Just as 2009 and 2010 were two different teams in Alabama history, this will be a different team."
He said the Tide coach has talked to his team about complacency and it considers it the job of the experienced players to provide leadership for the younger players.
Square has been considered to be among the most underrated players on the Crimson Tide team. Michael Williams, Bama tight end, said that has been the case, "but it won't be after this year. Damion is a great defensive end and everyone will know it this season."
Square said that he doesn't care if he is underrated by the public. "My teammates, our opponents, and our coaches know what I can do. I don't think I would have started as many games as I have (18) if I wasn't doing my job."
One reason for perhaps being underrated, he said, is the number of star players he has played with.
He said that he works hard every day to be a "a good player for my team. I work out in the weight room and I watch extra film."
Square said there is also something of an advantage in not being a superstar. He and his wife and one-year-old son can go to dinner and usually hewon't be recognized, and if he is he's not bothered by it.
Square said he is glad that Alabama has good experience in the defensive line with Jesse Williams at nose tackle and fellow ends Ed Stinson and Quinton Dial. "If you have a choice of where you have experience," he said, "you want to have it up front. That's where every play starts. And having experience up front should help us on the back end (secondary) where we will have new starters."
Alabama's first game will be against Michigan and the Wolverines outstanding quarterback Denard Robinson. He said that Robinson, who is an outstanding runner, offers a different problem for defensive linemen. "We have to have good communication," he said. "If Jesse or QD or Stinson is rushing hard, then I have to stack up to make sure that the quarterback doesn't make a big play with his feet.
"It's bad if the secondary has played perfect defense and we give up a big play that shouldn't have happened. In our defense, the linemen make sure of their containment. That's why the jack linebacker makes a lot of sacks.
"It's staying in lanes, but it's also not rushing past the quarterback. If you rush by the quarterback you aren't doing anything except changing your defense from 11 men to 10 men."
This year expect Alabama fans to be very much aware of Damion Square as one of those 11.
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