"I set really high goals for myself," Don'ta Hightower said. "Hopefully, I will be able to start three games this season. I just want to be a real big impact."
Hightower is expecting to start out at the inside linebacker position, or the "Mike" position in Coach Saban's defense. But he has been studying all four linebacker positions to be prepared.
Hightower has really improved his strength through the off-season from the end of his senior season, but it is not his main focus right now. He said the Alabama coaches want him to keep on running and building his stamina.
As for Hightower's goals for the team next season, they are no lower than what any fan would want from the Tide in 2008. Hightower said his expectations are a lot higher this year than they were last year for Alabama.
He mentioned the recruiting class and guys like wide receiver Julio Jones and quarterback Star Jackson who could come in and make an immediate impact. Hightower expects at least one National Championship in the next three to four years.
When asked what he thinks on the nation's top recruiting class, "It means a lot to me to be a part of that," he said. "This class is going to put 'Bama back on top."
Hightower said he had a smooth ride overall as far as the recruiting process, but there was one bump in the road shortly after he committed to play for Alabama.
A couple of coaches from Tennessee, including head man Philip Fulmer, drove four hours to Lewisburg to talk with the star defensive end only to be turned away. Hightower said that all coaches have to come to his high school coach to set up a visit with Hightower, something Fulmer and his staff failed to do.
Hightower also said that if he did not pick Alabama, his next choice would have been Vanderbilt--Tennessee's in-state rival.
When asked when he knew Alabama was the place he wanted to go, Hightower recalled two instances.
The first was his sophomore year in high school when he visited Tuscaloosa for the Duke game. He recalled the atmosphere surrounding the game.
"I just liked it," Hightower said. "I am a football fanatic, and Alabama is just the place to go with all the crazy fans and the great atmosphere."
The second time and the deciding factor was when Hightower took his visit over the summer after his junior year. He said when he left Tuscaloosa he knew Bama was the place to go.
Hightower plans to attend orientation for Alabama on June 1st. He wants to have No. 2 when he gets to the Capstone, the number most recently worn by defensive back Simeon Castille.