By JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s football team had as much to mourn as to celebrate after a huge opening victory.
On the field, linebackers Terrell Lewis and Christian Miller sustained season-ending injuries in the top-ranked Crimson Tide’s 24-7 win over No. 3 Florida State . About 24 hours after the game, a son of wide receivers coach Mike Locksley was shot and killed in Maryland.
That left players and coaches with much more on their mind than football on Monday.
“I just feel real bad, just like everyone else,” said Tide receiver Calvin Ridley, who texted his support to Locksley. “I just want him to know I love him and I really don’t know anything else about it.”
Added coach Nick Saban: “We’ll do everything that we can to support Mike and his family in this time of tragedy.”
Howard County Police said 25-year-old Meiko Locksley was shot in Columbia, Maryland just after 10 p.m. Sunday. Locksley died at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Police didn’t release further details.
Locksley is also Alabama’s co-offensive coordinator. He spent last season as an offensive analyst and was Maryland’s interim head coach for the final six games in 2015. Players were still absorbing the news Monday afternoon.
“I just heard. That’s horrible,” offensive tackle Jonah Williams said. “I don’t have any words. He’s in our thoughts and prayers. We’re going to do everything we can for him.”
At practice, offensive analyst Chris Weinke worked with the receivers.
On the field, Alabama needs a reboot at linebacker. Miller (biceps) and Lewis (elbow) both play the same outside linebacker spot, and now both need season-ending surgery.
Lewis had five tackles and Miller three against the Seminoles. Both had a tackle for loss.
“But we just rebuild,” linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said. “Next guy’s up. All the guys who get recruited here are top guys, so it’s time for them to grow up.”
Two other starting linebackers also missed the second half with injuries. Rashaan Evans had a groin injury and Anfernee Jennings sprained an ankle. Saban said their injuries are significant but not long-term issues. He said both are questionable going into Saturday’s Fresno State game.
Alabama does have a luxury few other programs share. Three of the reserve linebackers are underclassmen who were former five-star recruits: Mack Wilson, Ben Davis and freshman Dylan Moses. Other candidates for increased playing time could include veterans like Jamey Mosley, brother of Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, and Keith Holcombe.
Five-star defensive end signee LaBryan Ray was practicing at linebacker on Monday also.
Hamilton, himself coming off a knee injury that ended his junior season, said there are a number of players capable of stepping up. He also had a message for Lewis and Miller, both seemingly poised for bigger roles this season.
“I told them I know how it is when you’re down,” Hamilton said. “You’re going to fall by the wayside. People may forget about you or things like this. But let that fuel you, and you can’t waste a day with the rehab process.”
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