Motley Happy To Be Playing

Brian Motley is on the way back from two broken bones. Although he had a down time, his spirit was never broken as he watched the first four Alabama football games from the sidelines.

Brian Motley came to Alabama in 2006 expecting to be an offensive lineman. "I was going to be a center or a guard," he said. "I never thought about being anything else."

Last spring Alabama Coach Nick Saban was looking for a noseguard, and he included the offensive line in his search area. After first trying Taylor Pharr, Saban took at look at Motley, who had been redshirted as a freshman. By the end of spring practice the 6-2, 280-pound Motley was number one at the defensive tackle position in Bama's 3-4 defense. He was number one when fall camp opened in August.

He said he didn't care if he played offense or defense. "I played both ways in high school and liked them both," he said.

Early in fall camp he suffered a broken hand, the first broken bone the Autaugaville native had ever suffered. He was making his way back from that injury, still on track to be the Crimson Tide starter, when on August 27 – four days before the season-opener – he went down with a broken ankle.

"I was down," he said. "I had been looking forward to my first game."

Tears? "Yeah, I was down. But I had to put that behind me and rehab. I had to keep going."

The prognosis was that Motley would be out six to eight weeks. Last Saturday, barely four weeks from the day a teammate rolled over his ankle, Motley was back on the field. He was limited in the number of plays he was permitted, but played enough to get in on three tackles, including one for lost yardage, in Bama's 21-14 loss to Florida State in Jacksonville.

"It was a great experience, even though I'm not 100 per cent yet," Motley said Tuesday. "I've got to improve a lot of things and get my legs back." He said he has no problem with the hand that was broken.

Motley said he was "a little sore" when he woke up Sunday morning, but after treatment that day was feeling all right.

Motley said that even though he had been expected to be out for up to two months, he always planned to make it back this year. "I was running in three weeks and playing in four weeks," he said. "I worked hard, mostly on strength stuff, but I'm still a little weak. I did keep my weight up."

He estimates that he's "about two weeks" to being back 100 per cent and expects his role to increase in Alabama's Saturday game against Houston. Bama hosts the Cougars in its homecoming game at 2 p.m. in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

He said that a focus of Alabama practices is "to play fast, but stay on your feet." He was on the ground when he got hurt. He said while he was out of action "I kept up with my playbook."

He was on the sidelines for Alabama's home games "cheering my teammates." He and his parents drove to Nashville for Alabama's game at Vanderbilt and hw as cheering in the stands.

His teammates were cheering for Motley, too. "My roommate, Mike McCoy, kept me in good spirits, and all my teammates were behind me," he said.

Motley said he wasn't tentative when he went into the game against FSU. If anything, he had to make sure he wasn't hyperactive. "After that first play when I got in on a tackle, I settled down. I thought I would." He said if he had a problem it was that his lateral movement wasn't as good.

There was no pain. Trainers put a tight wrap on his ankle before the game. "I didn't focus on it during the game, so it didn't bother me," he said.

Motley talked about the Houston offense he'll be going against this week, about the line splits used by the Cougars. "My assignment doesn't change," he said. "I play the center, play the guard and try to create a new line of scrimmage."

Motley said he might be still "a little shaky. I have to trust that I'm back."

All-in-all, though, he said, "My confidence level is back up."

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