Good news for Tide pass rush

Looking to improve on their SEC third-best 28 sacks in 2001, the Tide pass rush has received two important pieces of good news recently. First, as <I>BamaMag.com</I> reported yesterday, sack man extraordinaire Chris Browder is fully qualified and will enroll in school soon. And sophomore defensive end Todd Bates is recovering nicely from surgery.

Browder, a 6-4, 215 pound outside linebacker/defensive end out of Wilcox-Central High School in Camden, had been waiting word on his most recent attempt at the ACT. Since signing with the Tide last February, Browder has concentrated on his academics, and with news of his qualifying test score, he immediately took steps to finalize his paperwork. At this point the word from the Alabama Football Complex is that Browder has been accepted by The University and will enroll this fall.

Considered to be the best pure pass rusher in the state last season, Browder finished his senior season with 136 tackles and 29 sacks--believed to be an Alabama state record for sacks in a single season. Browder helped lead Camden/Wilcox to an undefeated regular season slate.

Blessed with outstanding speed, in many games opposing players simply could not block him off the corner.

The only true freshman to see action in 2001, Todd Bates has been sidelined with a serious groin injury.

Too light presently to compete effectively on the defensive line, Browder will probably work with the Tide outside linebackers when he reports in the fall. But he has the frame to carry extra muscle, and the coaching staff believes that defensive end is his ideal collegiate position.

The news regarding sophomore Todd Bates is also good. Though his availability for this season is still undecided, Bates has made good progress since his surgery to repair a chronic groin injury. "It's been four weeks now since my surgery," Bates said. "And the pain is much less than it was."

Sidelined all of winter and spring with a persistent groin problem that simply would not go away, Bates endured more than his share of pain and frustration the last several months. All football players--especially rush ends--are dependent on quickness and speed. And painful groin muscles can cripple their effectiveness.

The normal treatment for groin problems is rest and rehab, but Bates situation persisted. Diagnosed finally with osteitis pubis, the same condition that sidelined Tide basketball guard Travis Stinnett and Bama kicker Ryan Pflugner, Bates was operated on by specialists in Philadelphia to correct the problem. "They're saying two more weeks now, and hopefully I can begin normal rehab," Bates said.

The only freshman from last year's signing class to see action, Bates played in nine games, including a start versus LSU. He played a total of 209 snaps, totaling 23 tackles, three stops behind the line, one quarterback pressure and two recovered fumbles. Both fumble recoveries led to Alabama touchdowns.

Bates' condition was serious, and a redshirt year in 2002 is still a possibility--especially given that Bates is missing valuable conditioning work this summer. But he and the Tide coaches hope that will not be necessary. If he does return to full speed this season, it will solidify an already good playing rotation at defensive end.


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