Three Alabama players suspended for NCAA rules violations

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Alabama players arrive at the Orange Bowl

MIAMI, Fla. – Fans from Alabama and Oklahoma have descended on Florida for the Orange Bowl, but officials say the Crimson Tide will be without three members of its squad.

Earlier this week, Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced that offensive guard Deonte Brown, tight end Kedrick James and offensive tackle Elliot Baker did not make the trip to Miami for the Orange Bowl.

On Thursday, Saban elaborated by saying the players violated NCAA rules, but he did not specify which rule or rules were violated.

“Those things carry certain consequences,” Saban said. “And those players knew the situation. They made poor choices and decisions.”

Brown has filled a key spot for the Tide at the left guard position. However, many analysts don’t know if his absence will have much of an impact on the Orange Bowl due to the Sooners’ weaker defense. Instead, analysts say the violation could end up hurting Alabama if they win the Orange Bowl and head to the National Championship game.

In his place, Alabama will be starting Lester Cotton, who was injured and missed last year’s national title game.

“Lester is a three-year starter. The guy started three years for us. Obviously, Deonte played really well for us coming into this season, but we have a lot of confidence in Lester, all the games that he started around here. We’re fortunate to be able to have that type of depth to where when you lose a guy like Deonte, you have a three-year starter like Lester Cotton there ready to go. Tremendous confidence that Lester will come in and do his job,” said Michael Locksley, offensive coordinator for Alabama.

When talking about the suspended players, OU’s defensive end Amani Bledsoe says they are preparing just the same.

“I mean, you still kind of prepare the same way. I guess it’s just different film you watch of the game knowing that that player won’t be in the game. But you still prepare with the same intensity,” Bledsoe said.

James has appeared in five games for the Crimson Tide this season, but has not recorded a reception. Baker has not played this season.

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