Alabama suspends best offensive lineman for Sugar Bowl

Alabama head coach Nick Saban suspended offensive tackle Andre Smith for the upcoming Sugar Bowl for violating team rules. Smith is highly regarded as ‘Bama’s best offensive lineman and a future top 10 NFL Draft pick.

“The University of Alabama, the team and the football program are more important than any individual player,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said in a released statement today. “Every one on our team depends on each other to be responsible, to make good choices and decisions relative to their actions.”

Saban did not specify Smith’s violation leading up to Friday night’s game against No. 7 Utah.

The junior is expected to be one of the top players selected in the NFL draft if he opts to skip his final season at Alabama. Smith has been noncommittal about his future plans, but Saban offered a hint in his statement that the player wouldn’t be back.

“Andre Smith has done an outstanding job in our program as a person, student and a player, and we will do all we can as an institution to support him in all future endeavors,” Saban said.

An instant starter with the Tide, Smith has allowed only one sack this season and seven during his 38-game career.

He won the Southeastern Conference’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy as a sophomore and was a finalist for the Lombardi Award this season.

One can’t help but wonder how this will affect the Tide’s game plan for Utah. ‘Bama definitely had the edge (and might still have the edge) up front, but maybe the Utes will overload one side and bring added pressure on quarterback John Parker Wilson.

Utah’s defense is quick and can fly to the football. Not having to get around Smith will be a huge advantage for them.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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