TUSCALOOSA, Ala. While the University of Alabama football team will be playing its first road game of the 2007 season, senior linebacker Darren Mustin will be headed home this weekend as the Crimson Tide opens Southeastern Conference play against the Vanderbilt Commodores this Saturday in Nashville.
“I’m from Nashville and I’m excited about going home,” Mustin said at Alabama’s media day on Monday afternoon. “I’ve got a big family, so I need a lot of tickets. I’m trying to get everybody in to see me play.”
A native of nearby Brentwood, Tenn., Mustin began his playing career at Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro. In his two-year career with the Blue Raiders, he played in 19 games and recorded 29 total tackles at linebacker. He played all 11 games a freshman (2003) and had his best season as a sophomore, with 19 tackles, including 1 ½ tackles for loss (-3) in eight games the following year.
Mustin transferred to Alabama in 2005 and after sitting out one year due to NCAA transfer rules he played in 10 games in 2006 as a junior and finished with eight tackles.
After a coaching change at Alabama, Mustin had to prove himself to the Tide’s new coaching staff. Head Football Coach Nick Saban noticed Mustin’s hard work in spring practice and summer workouts and awarded the senior a scholarship prior to fall camp.
Mustin continued his hard work preseason camp and earned his first collegiate start last Saturday against Western Carolina. He was the Tide’s second-leading tackler with seven stops and one tackle for loss. For his efforts he was named one of the UA coaching staff’s defensive players of the week.
The Vanderbilt game will mark Mustin’s first in his hometown since leaving Middle Tennessee after the 2004 season. He last played in front of the home folks on Nov. 13, 2004 as the Blue Raiders beat UL Monroe 37-24 in Murfreesboro.
“It’s exciting,” Mustin added. “It’s one of those feelings, you think of it as another game, but it’s something special. You want to play really well in front of your home town. I’m going to be in front of brothers and sisters that haven’t seen me in awhile. My mom and dad are coming to the game. I want to do well.”
*The Crimson Tide practiced for two hours in full gear Tuesday afternoon as preparations continued for Saturday’s SEC opener against the Commodores. Bama worked on first-and-ten, second-and-long, goal line and short-yardage situations.
In other news, sophomore linebacker Zach Schreiber (Shreveport, La.) has been granted his release.
“Zach is a fine young man who worked extremely hard,” said head coach Nick Saban. “He wanted to go to school closer to home so we granted him his release.”
*Several members of the Crimson Tide football team met with the media following Tuesday’s practice, including redshirt freshman wide receiver Earl Alexander (Phenix City, Ala.) and junior defensive lineman Bobby Greenwood (Prattville).
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Earl Alexander:
On playing his first game:
“It was great to get out there and show the talent that God blessed me with for this team in front of 92,000 fans.”
On his opening game receptions:
“I think it was a good coming-out game for me. I am going to continue to work hard and hopefully more will come.”
The wide receivers and how they will prepare for Vandy:
“I am going to go along with the coaches’ game plan and go in there with a positive mind set. We are going to go in there and play hard, play fast and play relentless.”
On his personal preparations:
“You have to be a student of the game. You have to watch film and know what they are going to do before you get into a game situation. You have to be out there and react instead of trying to decide what the other team is going to do.”
Junior defensive lineman Bobby Greenwood
The Opening Game:
“I played the run really well, I just have to focus on the little things and get around the quarterback more and put some pressure on him.”
On the Vandy Offensive Line:
“It’s a big change going back to the SEC and I have some big boys that I have to go against this weekend. I just have to keep working on my technique this week.”
On Vandy’s Line and Running backs:
“We have to make sure the d-line gets to them and keeps them contained because he (Vandy QB Chris Nickson) definitely has some speed. I feel like we have come a long way just in the two practices this week.”