Saban: Hightower's knee injury to require surgery

Monday, September 28, 2009

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- No. 3 Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower will have knee surgery to repair ligament damage.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Sunday that an MRI confirmed that Hightower had damage in his left knee. He did not say if the sophomore inside linebacker might return this season.

Hightower is a former Marshall County High School star. He was helped off the field in the first quarter of Saturday's 35-7 win over Arkansas.

Saban did not release specifics about the injury. He said Hightower was expected to make a full recovery.

"Dont'a is a fine young man," Saban said in a statement Sunday night according to the Birmingham News. "He has been an outstanding player for us, and we are confident he will make a full recovery."

Saban didn't outline specifics other than to say it was "ligament damage." The News said its sources have said the injury was related to Hightower's anterior cruciate ligament.

Not only was Hightower the starting "Will" linebacker, he also occasionally lined up as a defensive end in passing downs and was effective in pass coverage.

Saban called him "one of our best football players on our entire team," and "the best pass rusher we have."

Hightower was a key player on the nation's No. 2 defense alongside All-American Rolando McClain. Saban called him one of the Tide's best players.

Hightower started 12 games as a freshman and is one of only 11 freshmen to start a season opener for Alabama since 1972.