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Alabama football coach Nick Saban talks to players before last Saturday's practice in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide worked out in full pads for the first time this spring on Tuesday afternoon.

Sophomore linebacker VanDarius Cowan has missed Alabama's last two spring practices due to academics.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban explained Cowan's situation following Tuesday afternoon's two-hour workout. That was Alabama's fourth this spring and the first in full pads.

"I'm not going to be specific here, but we have rules about academics," Saban said Tuesday night in a news conference. "We check guys in terms of what they're supposed to do, and we define the standard of expectations that we have for class attendance and tutors.

"When guys do not do this to the standard we've created for all the players here, they can't practice or play until they get it right."

Cowan, a 6-foot-4, 236-pounder from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., was a top-100 prospect in the 2017 class and was on track to redshirt last year until the Crimson Tide's injuries at linebacker started to mount. He played for the first time in the 45-7 win over Tennessee and wound up getting in seven games, including the Iron Bowl and playoff contests against Clemson and Georgia.

His season stats consisted of two tackles against Mercer and a quarterback hurry against LSU.

"When we have to take something away that's going to change his behavior, that's one of the ways we're going to do it," Saban said. "He is making good progress, and hopefully he'll be back to practice soon."

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Tagovailoa update

Saban had plenty of praise for Alabama's orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Lyle Cain, and how he and his staff handled sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's thumb injury. Tagovailoa suffered the setback last Tuesday but was back two days later and continues to do more and more in practice.

"Tua has made a very nice recovery," Saban said. "He did have a break, but Tua was actually able to do stuff in practice today. He was able to hand the ball off. He could grip the ball, and he could throw the ball a little bit.

"We're excited that Tua is making a good recovery. He's got a really positive attitude about it, and we feel good about where he's heading."

Saban is hopeful Tagovailoa will be able to get back to doing most everything in a very short period of time.

Recalling Huizenga

Though his two years with the Miami Dolphins yielded a 15-17 record, Saban continued to have the utmost respect for former Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga, who died last week at the age of 80. Huizenga lured Saban to the NFL after his five seasons at LSU from 2000 to 2004 that included two Southeastern Conference championships and the 2003 national title.

"There is nobody I know, other than my parents, who had a greater impact on me in terms of someone I would like to emulate," Saban said. "I'm talking mostly about how he treated other people and the character he had. What a fantastic, successful and classy man."

Huizenga not only owned the Dolphins but founded Major League Baseball's Florida (now Miami) Marlins and the National Hockey League's Florida Panthers.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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