Square In Rush To Be In Action
An early important loss for Alabama came in the second game of the year, a mostly forgettable, lackluster 40-14 win over Florida International. Many had already departed the game when back-up defensive end Damion Square went down with a season-ending ACL tear. The injury might have received more attention, but it was overshadowed the following week when starting linebacker Dont'a Hightower was also lost for the season with a knee injury.
Later in the season, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban was asked about Hightower's loss, and in the course of his answer added that while the loss of Square might not be discussed much among reporters and fans, it was a big loss in Saban's view.
Square, a 6-3, 284-pound defensive lineman from Houston, was barely on the depth chart the past two pre-seasons. He was listed as the third nose tackle in 2008, his true freshman season. He was held out that year. Last year he was listed as a third team defensive end, behind Brandon Deaderick and Luther Davis on the left side.
Last week, Saban was asked about Square.
"Damion Square's done a good job," Saban said. "We're pleased with what he's done and what he's doing. He's probably got a good chance to play for us some in nickel and probably the third end in regular. But he's a good athlete. He's worked hard. He's gotten a little bigger and stronger. He hasn't had any issues coming back from the injury. So we're very pleased with the progress that he made. We think he has some pass-rush ability so we're excited to have him back and we're pleased with the job he's done to this point. He's a hard worker. With that, we'd hope for continued improvement and I guess with the more knowledge and experience he gets the better he'll play for us."
Square can be excused for being in a rush to be back in action. He made it back for spring practice.
"I was definitely in a rush to get back and be with the team," Square said. "I'm excited about what we can do as a team. The process was a slow process that sped up at the end with the great guys that we have down in the training room. I mean, my knee couldn't be a lot better than it is right now and every day I go out and practice as if I'm 100 per cent."
One of Square's teammates thinks that Square has made a nice recovery. Tight end Michael Williams, who has to block on Square (and other defensive linemen) in Bama practices, said, "Rushing, he's top notch. Him coming off the knee surgery, you couldn't even tell the way he comes off the edge. Run blocking, he's as strong as any D-lineman we've got. It's kind of hard to press him out of the hole and it's kind of hard to pass block him."
Square doesn't dwell on the injury. "I was pass rushing and I was on the ground," he said. "That's what happened."
He said, "It was frustrating, but talking to the people in my life brought me back to reality. It can happen to anyone. It's just part of the game." Square, who had never had a serious injury in football before last year, said he trusted in his doctors. and he got advice from his mother, his pastor, Saban, his position coach, Bo Davis, and his teammates.
"My friends on the team, Robby Green, Mark Ingram, those guys would stop by the training room and see me every day and put a smile on my face," Square said.
Square, Hightower and others in the training room established a bond. "We had a lot of good times down there in the training room despite the situation," Square said. "After a while you have to take the situation for what it is."
He said the players missing playing time last year motivated each other to be a part of this year's team. One of those didn't make it. Running back Jeramie Griffin had to give up football because his knee injury has not responded.
"Griff is a guy with good character and is just a good person," Square said. "My heart goes out to Jeramie Griffin."
Square said his role is "wherever Coach wants me to play. Pass Rush, goalline, whatever it takes to win. We have different packages. Where Coach needs me, that's where I'll be."
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