Dareus Is Working Towards Tomorrow

Nothing against 2009 Alabama starting defensive ends Brandon Deaderick and Lorenzo Washington. But probably everyone noticed that it was a back-up who led the position in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks. And that was before he was Most Valuable Defensive Player in helping the Crimson Tide to a win over Texas in the national championship game.

Marcell Dareus has done some very good things for Alabama, and none were better than the things he did in earning recognition for his play in Pasadena as Bama won its 13th national championship. So what does he think when he watches the replay of that game?

"I haven't seen it," Dareus said Friday following the Crimson Tide's first football practice since the monumental BCS Championship Game. "I've seen some highlights and I've watched the defensive cut-ups (video clips of the defensive plays that are used in coaching)."

We can only assume he has seen a couple of the most important plays in that game. Just before halftime, in one of the most bizarre plays of the 2009 college football season, Dareus picked off a muffed Texas shovel pass and ran it back 28 yards for a touchdown—making a nice pirouette along the way–and giving Bama a 24-6 halftime lead in what would be a 37-21 victory.

Dareus admitted he had seen that play. As for his comments:

"Overwhelming," he said. "I could not describe it. I was still speechless after the game. I just didn't believe I accomplished that. It was amazing."

Dareus wasn't even aware of perhaps the biggest play of the game. Early in the fourth quarter he tackled Texas's outstanding quarterback, Colt McCoy, as McCoy ran an option play down the line. McCoy landed on his right (throwing) shoulder and was out of the game.

"I didn't even realize it until someone told me about a series later," Dareus said. "I hit him hard, but I wasn't trying to hurt him."

Last year Dareus was in on 33 tackles, including nine for 49 yards in lost yardage. He also was in on a team-high seven sacks for 44 yards and had seven quarterback hurries and broke up two passes.

Since the Texas game, Dareus has signed his share of autographs, but he said "That's just part of being an Alabama football." And he said that the game had helped his family come together after some hard times.

And all of what he did last year, all of what he did against Texas, means nothing.

"There's no rest for the weary," he said. "We've got to go after it again. We can't live off last year. We have to make our own path."

He said his coaches have made it clear that last season needs to be forgotten.

"They stressed it a lot," the 6-foot-3, 280-pound defensive lineman from Birmingham. "We talked about making a legacy of our own. We can't live off last year's team. We've got to start our own path and we've got to do it ourselves."

He said his only expectation is that he will be working hard.

The University is on spring break. Alabama football players had one day of spring practice and will resume spring training on Monday, March 22.

While the players are off, Dareus said, they have some direction. "The coaches pass along good words like a parent would," he said. "Make the right decisions. Do the right thing."

Alabama concludes spring practice with the A-Day Game at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday, April 17, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. ESPN will televise the game.

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