NEW YORK — The University of Alabama football team had its fifth player selected in the 2012 NFL draft Friday evening at when the Baltimore Ravens used the No. 35 overall pick, the third pick in the second round, to select senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw.
Upshaw was the Ravens’ first pick of the draft. Former Alabama great Ozzie Newsome is Baltimore’s general manager and executive vice president.
“I’m very excited to be chosen by the Baltimore Ravens,” Upshaw said on a conference call Friday night. “The wait was a little frustrating at times, but I’m excited and very happy to be taken in the second round as a Baltimore Raven.”
The selection of Upshaw marked the fifth Alabama selected in the first 35 picks. Trent Richardson was the first Alabama player drafted with the third overall pick by the Cleveland Browns. Safety Mark Barron went to Tampa Bay at No. 7 and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick went 17th to Cincinnati.
The New England Patriots used the No. 25 pick to select junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
Upshaw, a native of Eufaula, Ala., was the 2012 Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game Defensive MVP and the 2011 Capital One Bowl MVP. He recorded a career-best 52 tackles as a senior with 18 tackles for loss (90 yards) and nine and a half sacks. He also returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown at the University of Florida and earned first-team All-America honors. Upshaw was also a finalist for the Lombardi Award.
n In related news, Alabama announced Friday redshirt sophomore quarterback Phillip Sims has decided to transfer following the completion of the spring academic semester.
“This was a very difficult decision because I’ve had a great experience at the University of Alabama, and I’m thankful for the opportunity this program provided me,” Sims said. “I want to thank Coach (Nick) Saban and the coaching staff for being with me and my family at this time. I wouldn’t change anything about my decision to come to Alabama and this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. The reason for me leaving is nothing more than a personal matter. I just need to be closer to home to support my family at this time and that needs to be my priority right now. I would still like to continue my football career, and hopefully I can do that and also be there for my family.”
Sims, from Chesapeake, Va., played in eight games last season, completing 64.3 percent of his passes for 163 yards. He redshirted in his first year at Alabama in the fall of 2010.
“Phillip has been a great representative of our program and did a great job for us in his two years here,” Saban said. “We are sorry to see him leave, but we certainly understand the situation, and everyone here wishes him the best of luck. We’ve talked on numerous occasions about this decision and we just want Phillip to know that we will be here to support him in the future if there is anything we can do to help him and his family.”
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