Britt remains positive

Given his recent season-ending injury, Tide left tackle Wesley Britt understands more than most the adversity Bama has gone through this season. Which is why his continued positive outlook is so inspiring.

"I try to remember how blessed I am to be here at The University of Alabama," Britt told ‘BAMA: Inside the Crimson Tide in an interview three weeks ago for a story in the November issue of the magazine. "As a team we've gotten through and gotten strong because of what's happened. The adversity made us stronger. We've just got to continue to build.

"As long as you learn from the negative things and keep getting better, then adversity will end up positive. You've got to have that kind of focus."

With the disappointing season and now the injury, the 2003 campaign definitely hasn't gone like Britt would have wanted. But anyone looking for bitterness had best look elsewhere.

Britt's recent injury may have him down for now, but according to him it's only a temporary setback.

"No, you didn't expect the bad times," Britt said. "We didn't expect the 3-8 season (in 2000) after winning an SEC championship. Somebody asked me the other day, ‘If you had known then, do you wish you had gone to Florida or Auburn or somewhere else?'

"I immediately thought, ‘No, man! No way. Alabama is the best school in the nation.'"

In Britt's absence, fifth-year senior Atlas Herrion stepped in to finish the Tennessee game, playing well for most of the contest. But Britt cautions that chemistry among offensive linemen doesn't develop overnight.

"That's definitely the case," he said. "For example me and Justin Smiley kind of have our own language. We've been playing together for three years. You can have talent on the offensive line, but the experience is what makes you really good.

"There is so much you have to learn that you can only get by playing."

Next season will be Britt's fifth year on campus. Looking back, he marvels at the progress he's made since arriving in the fall of '99.

He commented, "I'll look at a guy like Chris Capps and think ‘That was me four years ago.' I'm stronger, smarter and I play meaner on the field. I try and tell the young guys what it takes."

His message?

"‘I was in the same situation you were. You have all the resources you need. Just keep working to be the best football player you can. Work every day and keep in the back of your mind that you can be an All American.'"

Shown pass blocking versus Ole Miss, Wesley Britt has been named Freshman All-America, All-SEC and pre-season All-America. (UA Photo)

Given that he was voted pre-season All America this past summer, Britt's words obviously carry weight. His broken leg and subsequent surgery have placed an unexpected obstacle in his path, but Britt plans to be back better than ever for his final season.

"I know I have to always get better, but even when I was little I always believed that," Britt said two weeks before the injury. "God has given me a talent, and I know I've been blessed. My parents instilled a work ethic. And Alabama has helped me develop.

"I see all the resources available to me. I'd be foolish not to become a good player. That would be nothing other than my own fault."

Britt signed with Alabama in February of 2000, only a month after Alabama finished up its league championship season in the Orange Bowl. But his true freshman year was spent on the sidelines, watching helplessly as his new team stumbled to an embarrassing 3-8 record. As a result, Mike DuBose and his staff were replaced by Dennis Franchione. Starting as a redshirt freshman, Britt was a key member of that '01 team that turned its season around to achieve a winning record and an Independence Bowl victory.

Then in the face of severe NCAA sanctions, Britt helped lead the 2002 Tide to a 10-3 record, "Best in the West" and respected nationwide. But then came Franchione's run for the border and the subsequent disaster that was Mike Price's abortive tenure.

Needless to say, Britt and his teammates have experienced more than their share of upheaval.

"I actually wrote a paper on it," Britt said. "I had a Management class, 'Innovations of Change,' that we had to come up with our own theory. It was the final paper and counted about 40 percent of the grade. What better to base my paper on than the changes I've gone through here?"

An excellent student, Britt will graduate this December with a degree in Business Management. "I talked about adapting to and learning from change, how that's the biggest part of the change process. The paper had to be 13-15 pages, but there was so much more that I could have written. I could have kept writing forever.

"All the theories we've talked about in (my Business) classes I've tried to put in place. Many times I've been through those situations. I can relate what's happened with this football team to just about every theory of change that you can imagine."

Shown running wind sprints last summer, Britt (in front at right) expects to be full speed by the start of next season.

In the first quarter of the Tennessee game, after Britt had been loaded onto the cart to be carried off the field, Head Coach Mike Shula spoke to him briefly. As Shula recalls, he intended to give a quick word of support to what he expected to be a stricken player. But Britt needed no encouragement.

"He told me then that he was blessed to be able to play for Alabama," Shula recalled.

Britt's words at the time only echoed his thoughts expressed in the earlier interview. "I really don't see all the adversity as (a hardship)," he said. "I see myself as being blessed to be here. It's a learning experience. I'm proud to be at The University of Alabama.

"What I've gone through is nothing, compared to the benefits I've reaped since I've been here."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Wesley Britt is one of the featured stories in the November issue of ‘BAMA: Inside the Crimson Tide. Only $35 (Alabama residents add $2 for state sales tax) brings you 10 full-color magazines and e-mail newsletters following every football game. Call 1-800-713-2261 to subscribe.

BamaMag Top Stories