Here is the official transcript of Saturday’s press conference at the University of Alabama. Transcript courtesy of UA.
Head Coach Nick Saban Opening Comments:
“I said before that we really take pride in trying to do a good job of helping our players gather the information they need to make a good sound solid business decision about what is best for their future. One of the goals here is for guys to develop a career off the field by graduating from school, as well as be the best football player they can be, try to develop a career as a football player, and do a great job at the University of Alabama to win a championship and see if they can play at the next level. We are very fortunate that have a number of guys who have done a good job in that area, and have an opportunity to do other things. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the maturity of each and every player that has gone through this process with us this year, four of which you have already talked to and Mark today. They have done this with a great deal of thought, a great deal of direction, gathered the information they needed to gather, to make a good sound solid decision about what their future is. As I have said before, I know all of our fans want each one of these guys to represent the University of Alabama. In some cases it works that way, and in some cases it’s actually personally beneficial to guys to be able to move on. Mark has done a great job with his family and has great support with the people around him. He has some unusual circumstances that made it more difficult for him to make a decision this year, relative to his injury and the strike that may be pending. We’re really pleased with the decision that he’s made and the process he used to come up with that decision. As all the other players have done, they showed great maturity and being great ambassadors for Alabama when they were here, and showed great maturity about how they went about making a decision on their future as football players.”
On any other juniors declaring for the draft before tonight’s deadline:
“I think that in all of our communication, we had several other guys that we did some research on and did our due diligence, but as far as I know, everyone else is set to come back.”
On Mark’s limitations due to injury at the combine:
“Mark has been a great player for us, and has been as productive as any player on our team. That is including the guys that have gone out for the draft. Not only in terms of the tackles he’s made or the interceptions he’s made, but the leadership that he provided and being selected captain by his teammates as a junior really goes a long way. Anytime your teammates pick you for anything, that’s not like the coach picking you, this is for real, because they have a tremendous respect and trust in this guy for who he is, what he is, and how he affects the team, and how he affects everyone on the team. Two things probably were factors here. Mark’s draft status, relative to how he could affect his draft status as how he could work out with the injury in a timely fashion. But also, with the circumstance in terms of the labor situation, any team that would draft an injured player, would want that player to be a part of their organization, so they can continue to rehab that guy to make sure he would be able to play the next year. So the combination of those two things probably would not work for Mark being able to enhance his status in the draft. And, there is no question that he could move up significantly by coming back. Mark has made great improvement every year that he’s been here in the program. He going to do the same thing next, which I think will propel him to the top player at his position next year, and a much better circumstance for him to take advantage of that.
On Mark’s availability for the spring:
“We’re looking at Mark being out of the sling and doing rehab. He’s a month out of surgery and probably has another two months of rehab. I think he will be able to do things from a running standpoint before that time, but when you have this type of injury, you don’t want to put yourself in a position to reinjure that. These are all things that our medical staff will have to work through. I do think Mark will be able to participate to some degree, at least in the physical movement part, if not in the contact part of spring practice, which will be the end of March and April. We’re talking four month out of surgery at that point, and being pretty close. This will all be determined by the medical staff and how he progresses day-to-day. This is not a decision I’ll make, but a decision our medical staff makes.”
On the importance of this time in recruiting:
“We absolutely want to recruit the best character quality people that we can, that are the best students that have the best opportunity to help us have a successful program and continue that success. We have a lot of guys that are certainly in the category that have announced that they would like to come to Alabama, and we have a lot of guys were still recruiting relative to that. Hopefully by getting a few of those guys, it will really finish and round out this class in a positive way.”
Mark Barron said:
“I put a lot of time into this decision. It was probably one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make and I feel like I made the right one. I want to thank my mom and my uncle and the rest of my family for helping me make my decision. I also want to thank Coach Saban and the entire coaching staff for using all his sources to help give me all the information I could possibly have to get as close as possible to make the right decision.
“There were a lot of pros and cons in this situation. 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. Roll Tide!”
On how he feels with his decision:
“I think I made the best decision. I’m pretty happy with my decision. I don’t have any regrets with it.”
On how he feels physically:
“I’m getting better. I have some movement back, more than I had. I feel like its healing pretty well and coming along good.”
On how his injury in the Auburn game impacted his decision:
“It was very frustrating. It had a lot to do with my decision. This was really the first time I have ever had a real serious injury, so it was pretty frustrating to me and it played a big role in an important decision. I feel like I made the right decision though doing what I am doing.”
On the feedback he received from teams in the National Football League:
“I talked to a few guys. Coach Saban has great resources in the NFL, so I talked to a few of them and a lot of them said due to my injury and some other factors it would probably be best that I come back for my senior year.”