TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Credit a former Alabama star for giving the Crimson Tide’s defense a scout team look of Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight last week.
Former Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims helped Alabama out, and simulated Knight to give the Tide’s first-team defense a feel for the Aggies quarterback.
Knight threw for 2 touchdowns, but Alabama held him to just 164 passing yards in the 33-14 victory. Knight completed 45 percent (14-of-31) of his passes and threw an interception.
“Blake just got released so he was looking for some place to work so he had a chance to get better,” Saban said. “Based on our quarterback situation and the kind of guy we were playing against, it was really convenient to have him here to help us last week.”
Adopted in March 2011, NCAA bylaw 22.214.171.124, titled “Exception — Former Student Participating in Practice on an Occasional Basis” allowed Alabama to use Sims.
The bylaw states, “A former student at the certifying institution (e.g., former student-athlete) may participate in an organized practice session on an occasional basis, provided the institution does not publicize the participation of the former student at any time before the practice session.”
The move wasn’t revealed until Sims made an appearance on ESPN’s College GameDay set.
Sims was recently released after a brief stint with the Atlanta Falcons.
Saban said Alabama took all of the proper steps before letting Sims practice with the team.
“We try to stay on top of the rules,” Saban said. “We have people in our admistration who do a good job of letting us know what we can and can’t do and we would never do something like that unless we got it approved by the SEC office, which we did, and the NCAA. I think it was helpful to Blake.”
In his lone season as the starter, Sims through for a school-record 3,487 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2014.
Sims helped Alabama win the SEC championship, and led the Crimson Tide to the inaugural College Football Playoff where they lost to eventual champion Ohio State.
“He was a great look,” Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “It was almost the same type of quarterback as Trevor Knight. He did a really good job. He was throwing down the field and making really accurate throws. I think it helped us a lot in practice.”
Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen was surprised to see Sims back with the team.
“I think it helped us a lot,” Allen said. “Blake Sims is a tremendous athlete. He’s very athletic, and so is Trevor Knight, so it was great practice for us.”