Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Upshaw legend continues to flourish


They say legends aren’t born, they’re made. For Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw, his legend has grown to a level that even he couldn’t have imagined.

Upshaw shined the brightest during the 2011 season for an Alabama team that featured defensive standouts Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower and Dre Kirkpatrick.

His play on the field was stellar, but his message to the team before the game was simple.

“The leaders of our group stood up and said, ‘Let’s be legendary,’” Upshaw said.

“We felt great at the beginning of the game. Everybody was getting to the ball and gang tackling. We proved why we are the best team in the country tonight.”

He was awarded with the Defensive Most Valuable Player award for his efforts, but Upshaw is no stranger to that type of success and praise. Last season, he won the award after terrorizing Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins in the Capital One Bowl.

“Courtney is a great guy and a great teammate,” safety Robert Lester said. “He won the MVP last year at the Capital One Bowl and again tonight. He’s a great player, and we expect big things from him.”

After being announced as the winner, instead of making a speech about himself, he immediately turned and handed the award to safety Mark Barron. Upshaw and the rest of the Alabama defense played as an unselfish unit.

“Coach Saban tells us all, even the guys on the sideline, even if you’re not a player, just make sure you’re in the game,” Upshaw said. “When one player makes a play, all ten and the rest of the guys are trying to go celebrate with that guy. It’s about us going out and having fun with each other.”

The entire Alabama defense played lights out all night against Louisiana State, with Upshaw leading the way.

“We kept fighting on defense, and it felt great,” Upshaw said. “Coach Saban and Coach Smart both always have us prepared for big games like this. It’s been that way since spring, and it carried over to this game.”

Upshaw finished the game with seven tackles and a sack, but those weren’t his biggest contributions to the game. His assignment was containing LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson and stopping the run. The pass rush constantly got to Jefferson, and the senior struggled with the pressure.

“We felt like we had him rattled tonight,” Upshaw said. “Every time they tried to run the ball, we stuffed them. The corners, the linebackers all did their job, and we executed well.”

Upshaw finished the season with 51 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception return for a touchdown and 11 quarterback hurries. His ability to rush the passer from a standing position and with his hand on the ground gives him the versatility needed to play well on the next level.

ESPN’s Todd McShay projects Upshaw as a top-15 NFL draft pick, and his performance in the title game only reinforced that projection.

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