Mark Barron to return for ’11 season

Update: Alabama’s official release at the bottom of this post
University of Alabama safety Mark Barron announced today that he will return for his senior season at Alabama.

Barron was a legitimate NFL prospect before a pectoral muscle injury sustained in the first half of the Auburn game, possibly moreso than cornerback Kareem Jackson who declared last year. Jackson has gone on to do well in the NFL with the Houston Texans.

In returning, Barron joins teammate Dont’a Hightower who too considered making the jump to the NFL.

Barron’s announcement came at a press conference today where Alabama head coach Nick Saban stated that he didn’t expect any other players to declare for the draft.

College players have until midnight tonight to declare for the draft.

Barron’s and Hightower’s decisions to return gives Alabama momentum going into the off-season. The Tide’s D should be formidable next season to say the least, as Upshaw, Milliner, Kirkpatrick, Lester, Johnson, Chapman, Mosley and Square mean 10 of 11 starters return, coupled by a host of talented reserves and new comers.

Update: Here is the official UA release:
Safety and team captain Mark Barron, a 2010 First-Team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) has elected to return to Alabama for his senior season in 2011, he announced at a press conference Saturday morning.

“There were a lot of pros and cons in this situation,” Barron said. “The pros of coming back were getting closer to my degree and the possibility of winning another national championship. Hopefully, I’ll be able to improve my draft stock and hopefully be a top ten or top 15 pick next year.

“In terms of declaring for the draft, playing in the NFL and giving back to my family has always been a dream of mine, but after weighing the pros and cons, it is my decision to come back and play for the Alabama Crimson Tide.”

“We’re really pleased with the decision that he’s made and the process he used to come up with that decision,” head coach Nick Saban said. “As all the other players have done, they showed great maturity and being great ambassadors for Alabama.”

Barron, a native of Mobile, Ala., anchored a secondary that was a key component in an Alabama defense that led SEC in scoring and total defense, ranking third nationally in scoring defense and fifth nationally in total defense.

Barron was the Crimson Tide’s leading tackler in 2010 with 75 stops (54 solos) with three interceptions. Barron, who was a Thorpe semifinalist in 2009, has 10 interceptions in his Alabama career, a total that ranks among the top 10 in Alabama history.