TUSCALOOSA — The ongoing soap opera revolving around the status of Antonio Alfano appears to have hit its breaking point with Nick Saban this week.
A week after announcing the former five-star freshman “disappeared a little bit,” Alabama’s head coach drew a line in the sand Wednesday, explaining that the most recent recruiting class’ No. 1 rated defensive end has quit on the Crimson Tide in his eyes.
“I just know that the guy basically quit. He quit going to class, he quit coming here (to the football complex),” Saban said Wednesday, showing rare candor regarding an internal matter. “We tried to encourage him, we tried to help him. We set up counseling sessions with him to help him every way we could, and all those things are still available to him if he wants them. But he didn’t respond to any of the things. So until he responds, you have to assume the guy quit.”
Alfano has been absent from the program for the last two weeks, with his last practice with the team taking place Sept. 3, the Tuesday before the New Mexico State game.
Alfano’s parents clarified their son’s situation last Friday in a series of tweets, announcing he’s requested to enter the NCAA transfer portal to “see what his options are.” The Colonia, N.J., native has reportedly been going through a difficult time since his grandmother fell gravely ill and is on life support, his parents explained from a joint Twitter account last week.
“(Antonio) is very close with her,” the tweets read, “since this illness took effect, Antonio has taken it very hard. He has not attended classes and practices.”
Saban announced after the New Mexico State game that Alfano was going through internal discipline, adding there was an “academic” element to his punishment, and that he needed to be “responsible and accountable to do what he’s supposed to do like every other player on the team.”
Ray out ‘at least six weeks’
Alabama junior defensive end LaBryan Ray underwent “successful” surgery on his injured ankle/foot and could be available later this season, Saban said Wednesday.
“I’d say LaBryan Ray is probably going to be out at least six weeks and then it’ll be how he’s responding to therapy and treatment, that kind of thing,” Saban said Wednesday. “I’m not saying he’s going to be back playing in six weeks, I’m just saying I know it’ll be six weeks before he can start back doing things. We’ll just have to see how he responds.”
Ray provided his own update on a social media post about 7 p.m. Tuesday: “Thanks to everyone that reached out and for the prayers! Surgery went well and I promise you I will only get stronger from this. God got me.”
Saban originally said Ray would undergo “further testing” regarding his foot and that he would be out an “undetermined” amount of time. Now it appears there’s a more definitive timetable on his return.
Ray is tied for eighth on the team with nine total tackles, including 1 1/2 tackles for loss, and was considered one of Alabama’s best pass rushers coming into the season.
With Ray out, the Crimson Tide defense is expected to turn to freshman end Justin Eboigbe as the starting end opposite senior Raekwon Davis.