Mark Barron returning to Alabama

Updated: January 15, 2011, 2:20 PM ET
Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- All-American safety Mark Barron said he'll be back for his senior season at Alabama, which already has lost three star juniors.

Barron made the announcement Saturday, the final day for underclassmen to enter the NFL draft. Barron led the Crimson Tide with 75 tackles and had three interceptions despite missing the team's Capital One Bowl victory against Michigan State with a torn pectoral muscle he injured in the Auburn game.

"I took a lot of time to make this decision and it was really one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make," Barron said. "I really don't have any regrets about making this decision."

He was a second-team AP All-American last season and a third-teamer as a sophomore.

Tide coach Nick Saban said Barron could improve his draft status as a senior, especially given the current labor situation and his injury.

Any team that drafts an injured player would want to rehab him so they could make sure he'd be able to play the next season, Saban said.

"The combination of those two things probably did not work for Mark in being able to enhance his status in the draft," Saban said. "There's no question about the fact that he could move up significantly coming back."

The Tide is losing three juniors -- tailback Mark Ingram, wide receiver Julio Jones and defensive end Marcell Dareus -- to the NFL.

Linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw have said they will return.

Barron was voted by his teammates as a team captain.

"Mark has been a great player for us and productive as any player on our team and that's including the guys who are going out for the draft," Saban said. "Not only in terms of the tackles that he made, the interceptions that he's made, but the leadership that he provided and being selected captain by his teammates as a junior I think really goes a long way.

"Any time the teammates pick you for anything, that's not the coaching picking, it's like 'This is for real.' Everyone has a tremendous amount of respect and trust in this guy for who he is, what he is, how he affects the team and how he affects everyone on the team."

Saban said he didn't anticipate any other underclassmen declaring for the draft by the Saturday deadline.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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