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Nick Saban updates two players, including DE LaBryan Ray

Alabama true freshman DL, Justin Eboigbe (No. 92) at practice on Tuesday: Photo comes via Brian Pride - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Alabama fans and media personnel received updates from Nick Saban during Wednesday’s presser on two student-athletes. 

While one update suggested that a player quit – Antonio Alfano – the other should give supporters hope that he might return as some point this season. LaBryan Ray, a junior at defensive end, did not finish the matchup versus South Carolina because of a foot injury. 

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Despite rumors sparking on the issue being season-ending, Saban said the former five-star will be out at least six weeks.

It was the same foot Ray had surgery on in the summer, prior to the Crimson Tide starting fall camp.

In his absence, Justin Eboigbe (true freshman) took reps at defensive end – opposite Raekwon Davis – until Ray returned for the game against Duke. 

“I’m not saying he is going to be back playing in six weeks; I’m saying I know it will be six weeks before he can start back doing things,” Saban said of Ray. “We’ll just have to see how he responds.” 

People recover at different speeds, but with six weeks being one month and two weeks, there is the possibility for Ray to return by the Iron Bowl.

Should he take well to treatment and rehab, an opportunity is in reach for him. Prior to the mishap, he totaled nine tackles – including 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack in three games.

Ray is the third experienced veteran, joining linebackers Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillon, that has suffered an injury this year.  

Eboigbe, a native of Forest Park, Ga., will be called upon to step up. 

The four-star was doing well in spring ball, until he missed two weeks with a foot injury. 

At 6-foot-5 and 294 pounds, Eboigbe has quick feet, strong hands and according to Raekwon Davis, he catches on quickly to different things. He played some against the Gamecocks and showed his ability to affect the quarterback as he got pressure to Ryan Hilinski

“We have a lot of confidence in him,” Saban said of Eboigbe.

“We think he can be a really good player. He needs reps and those reps that he missed over those two weeks set him back a little, but we need to keep him healthy and we need to manage his reps. We need to continue having him improve, but we like him as a player and he’s shown a lot of maturity as a player.” 

Davis did not bite his tongue upon telling reporters on Monday about his thoughts of Eboigbe being a ‘special’ talent.  

“Justin is a fast, twitchy guy,” Davis said. “He reads plays really easy. He’s good at his technique.” 

Eboigbe will get the start on Saturday versus Southern Mississippi. 

As he look to make his brother proud, Tide fans are wishing a smooth recovery for LaBryan Ray.  

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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