TUSCALOOSA, Ala. It was a difficult training camp for University of Alabama redshirt freshman Brian Motley.
First, he was still adapting to the move from offensive line to defensive line and still learning how to play nose tackle.
Second, he suffered a hand injury about 10 days into camp, which required surgery and sidelined him for more than a week. After returning to practice and moving the top of the depth chart at nose tackle, Motley fractured his right ankle on the Tuesday before Alabama’s season opener with Western Carolina. He was told he would miss six to eight weeks and his UA debut and first career start would be delayed.
It was tough pill for the Autaugaville, Ala., native to swallow.
“I was surprised because my mindset was on six to eight weeks,” Motley said following Tuesday’s practice. “I was pretty low the day I was injured.”
With the help of the Alabama training staff, rehabilitation staff and strength and conditioning staff, Motley made it back in four weeks and made his debut in the loss to Florida State on Sept. 29 in Jacksonville, Fla., two to four weeks ahead of schedule.
“I worked really hard in rehab,” Motley added. “We have a great staff in the training room and rehab and they worked me hard every day, twice a day to get me back on the field.”
Motley played a handful of snaps behind Lorenzo Washington at nose tackle and contributed two tackles and one tackle behind the line against the Seminoles.
“It was a great experience. I was nervous that first play, but after I got in on a tackle my confidence went up. I just settled down from there and played ball the best I could.”
Motley says playing defense is a lot different than offense, a switch he made this spring when Coach Nick Saban arrived at the Capstone.
“It’s a lot different. I think it’s harder, but at the same time you don’t have as much responsibility as the offensive line. They have to know a lot more and make a lot more calls. My job is also important because I have to keep lineman off the linebackers so they can make plays.”