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March 27, 2010TUSCALOOSA _ University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban announced Saturday that reserve quarterback Star Jackson had missed the last two spring practices due to academic reasons.
"We have a system around here for academics and guys have to conform to the system," Saban said. "When a guy doesn't do what he's supposed to do in school, there's a point I don't let him participate until he gets it straightened out. He gets it straightened out the next few days or week, we'll let him back out to practice. Right now he's allowed to come to the meetings and when we go practice he has to do school work.
"Star's worked hard, he's done a nice job this spring, did a good job in the offseason program. But what's going to affect his quality of life more than anything else is when he graduates from school."
Last season Jackson appeared in five games, completed 13 of 18 passes for 116 yards and had a passer-efficiency rating of 126.4. However, he was also surpassed on the depth chart by true freshman A.J. McCarron, who instead of playing redshirted.
"If my kid was doing what he was doing, I wouldn't let him play either," Saban said. "I'd make him get his school work right just like my dad did when I was in the eighth grade.
"I wouldn't sing in music class and got a D. He made me turn in my basketball uniform in, took me to the coal mines, took me 500-some feet deep in the shaft and said, 'If you don't go to school and get an education this is where you're going to end up.'
"That's the last time I've been down there. Did better in school, too."
Kendall Kelly and Brandon Gibson flip-flopped for Saturday's practice, with Kelly working with the wide receivers and Gibson lining up with the defensive backs.
Both are getting some experience in the secondary this spring, with Alabama having little depth at free safety.
"A goal is not to move anyone to defense, but to come out of the spring knowing that we have another guy on our team that could play safety if we needed him to play," Saban said. "There may be sometime this spring we put Julio (Jones) over there and teach him how to play it."
The coach then couldn't help himself during his press conference: "I know you all will go crazy on that one because if we put the guy on kickoff return you say he might get hurt. He might get hurt playing receiver too."
Undra Billingsley, who switched back from tight end to defensive end, was lined up behind Marcell Dareus for individual drills, alongside nose tackle Kerry Murphy and end Damion Square.
"He's doing really well," Saban said. "We're encouraged."
Running back Trent Richardson continued to practice after sustaining a hamstring strain earlier this week. Coaches appeared to be cautious with linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who is coming off knee surgery, as well with the team practicing on back-to-back days for the first time.
Linebacker Milton Talbert continued to practice in black, signaling no contact, and center William Vlachos rode an exercise bike during practice after having foot surgery.
Saturday was the conclusion of the annual coaches' clinic, with more than 1,200 on hand for the three days. "We're really excited about the turnout," Saban said.
"Practice was a little bit crisper, a little bit quicker," Saban said. He praised the work of the offense and singled out tight Michael Williams, but said the defense is a work in progress despite the good effort: "We have some good young talented players, we have a long way to go. We have lots of guys who make too many mistakes and don't understand the intensity mentally and the focus they have to play with on a consistent basis." Alabama also worked on the kicking game for the first time this spring.
Rolando McClain threw out the ceremonial first pitch at softball and then stopped by football practice. Also spotted on the sideline this spring have been Javier Arenas, Mike Johnson, Roy Upchurch and Chris Rogers.
The Tide will take Sunday off and hold its sixth spring practice Monday. The first scrimmage is scheduled for Friday so players can have Easter weekend off.