It hasn't been stated that the current injury is the same type as the one requiring surgery last year, but the description of Upchurch's injury has evolved from something like a sore ankle a few weeks ago to something which now is being continually re-evaluated and re-assessed.
"His ankle is still bothering him," Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said. "We will re-evaluate (Sunday), talk to doctors (Monday) and see where we're going to go from here."
Upchurch has missed the last three games with the injury, and on Sunday Shula said that "there's a possibility" Upchurch's injury might keep him out the rest of the season.
While it hasn't been confirmed that a bone defect is causing the current problems for Upchurch, the scenario is eerily reminiscent to the one of Justin Britt, who was initially bothered by his left foot, but wound up having surgery on both feet to correct an abnormal condition.
Upchurch last played against Arkansas when he was in on eight special teams plays. Because he participated in more than three games this season, he does not appear eligible to obtain an extra year of eligibility. This would require a waiver of the five-year rule, which states a player must complete his four seasons eligibility in five years.
The exceptions to the five-year rule are spelled out in bylaw 30.6.1:
"This waiver may be granted, based upon objective evidence, for reasons that are beyond the control of the student-athlete or the institution, which deprive the student-athlete of the opportunity to participate for more than one season in his/her sport within the five year period."
Those circumstances, included in Bylaw 184.108.40.206 include "incapacitating physical or mental circumstances," but those circumstances have to exist for more than one season. Because Upchurch's playing time exceeded the threshold of games played to obtain a medical redshirt by one game, his chances of getting another year appear lost.