September 16, 2007
Newsome steps aside
If Ozzie Newsome was watching for DJ Hall to break his Alabama career receiving record on television Saturday night, he didn't even get into the pretzel bowl before the suspense was over.
A 43-yard catch on Alabama's first offensive play was all Hall needed to eclipse the NFL Hall of Famer for the top spot on Alabama's list for career receiving yardage. Newsome amassed 2,070 yards from 1974-1977 as an Alabama wide receiver, then went on to a Hall of Fame NFL career as a tight end.
"I'm feeling great. I'm feeling more excited about the win," said Hall. "But I feel very good to break the record - I feel real blessed."
Hall got up from his first catch of the night with 2,079, and finished the game with 2,209.
"I'd like to congratulate him," said coach Nick Saban. "Ozzie Newsome is a great player and a Hall of Fame guy and if you break a guy like that's record, you know you've accomplished something special. ... We're pleased and proud for him and his family."
The senior from Fort Walton Beach then set about to putting the record further out of reach, and posted his best career game in doing so (six catches, 172 yards, two touchdowns). Despite missing much of the second half with a quadriceps strain, Hall managed the fourth-best receiving game in Alabama history, behind David Palmer (217 yards), David Bailey (187) and Toderick Malone (173).
"He's a big-play guy for us," Saban said. "... He had six [catches], but there were a lot of big plays in there."
While the first catch was the most exciting of the night for Hall, and certainly the most historical, it wasn't the toughest he made all night. That distinction would have to be his nine-yard touchdown catch - off balance, falling out of bounds and in heavy traffic - to give the Crimson Tide its first lead.
By the half, Hall already had 128 yards receiving and both of his touchdowns.
"He's fast, he's big, and he catches everything," said quarterback John Parker Wilson.
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