TUSCALOOSA – Though doctors have not medically cleared him to play football in 2008, University of Alabama linebacker Ezekial Knight still believes he has one more season in him.
The senior from Wedowee has officially requested a release from UA officials and intends to transfer to a smaller school, The Birmingham News has learned.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Knight had 64 tackles and three sacks as a starter in 2007, but an unspecified ailment hospitalized him during winter conditioning, leading him to undergo a battery of tests throughout the summer. The prognosis for Knight, who had surgery to correct a heart murmur as a sophomore, is not clear.
UA doctors have been cautious, holding him out of any physical activity. Knight is searching for playing time and answers elsewhere.
“He asked to be released at Alabama and he’s going to try to go to a smaller school,” said Randy Boyd, his former coach at Randolph County High. “They didn’t clear him to play at Alabama for some reason. He thinks he can play, and being young and ambitious, he’s going to try and get cleared at a smaller school.”
Boyd said he spoke with Knight about the matter two weeks ago. Alabama coach Nick Saban has not expounded on Knight’s condition and UA officials did not clarify his status Tuesday.
Knight’s departure leaves Alabama with 61 scholarship players, one spot away from being able to enroll 25 signees without exceeding the NCAA limit of 85.
The development Tuesday looks to clear up one of the looming mysteries for 2008, though it makes an already depth-starved linebacking corps even thinner.
If junior Prince Hall returns, Saban said he faces an indefinite suspension for unspecified reasons. Sophomore Rolando McClain could be the only returning starter when the Tide faces Clemson on Aug. 30.