KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tennessee defensive end Darrington Sentimore says he still has plenty of friends at Alabama, where he began his college career. He apparently doesn’t include Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban among them.
“With some players, he’d see you in the hallway and he’d just walk right past you like he (didn’t) see you,” Sentimore said.
The 6-foot-2, 288-pound Sentimore said he would have extra motivation Saturday when Tennessee faces the top-ranked Tide.
“I want this game more than any other game because I want to beat Saban,” Sentimore said.
Sentimore played sparingly for Alabama in 2010, but he was suspended indefinitely in June 2011 for an undisclosed violation of team rules. After the suspension, Sentimore spent last season at Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College before signing with Tennessee.
“I won’t lie to you,” Sentimore said. “I kind of regret going to Alabama.”
The junior said Tuesday that he likes Saban, but he added that he didn’t enjoy playing for him.
“He was a good player when he was here,” Saban said Monday. “We’re happy he’s doing a good job and having success. I hope he’s doing what he needs to do off the field, in school. His problems here were not relative to being a football player. It had nothing to do with pass rush or sacks, or any of that.”
Sentimore has collected three sacks and four tackles for loss to lead the Vols in both categories. Tennessee has recorded only eight sacks as a team, the lowest total in the Southeastern Conference.
Sentimore said it would feel different playing against his former team.
“It’s a new experience for me,” Sentimore said. “I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know how it’s going to be because I’ve never played against them, but I’m hoping that I’m going to kick their behind.”
This isn’t the first time Sentimore has made some attention-getting comments.
Before the Vols’ season opener with North Carolina State, Sentimore called Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon an “average” player. The Vols intercepted Glennon four times in a 35-21 victory.
After a 51-13 triumph over Georgia State last month, Sentimore predicted Tennessee would beat Florida in its next game. The Vols lost 37-20.
“He’s an emotional guy,” Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. “He’s a passionate guy. I’m sure he says things and does things that he looks back on and wishes he wouldn’t (have done). That’s part of maturing. We’ve had a lot of discussions with him, and Darrington’s made a lot of mistakes that he acknowledges. That’s just part of his growth. He’s made a lot of progress from a maturity standpoint in the last year. He really has. And he’s got a lot to keep building on. I’m really proud of how he’s integrated in.
“I think he learned a lot of lessons from his time at Alabama. I think Darrington will be the first to tell you he made a lot of mistakes that he wishes he didn’t make. He probably could have had success there like he’s having here had he made a lot better personal choices.”
Sentimore’s experience at Alabama has given him an idea of what’s required to pull an upset this week.
“You’ve got to play physical for 60 minutes,” Sentimore said. “They’re going to try to outthink you and outsmart you. You have to study film and be on top of your game.”
Notes: Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray returned to practice Tuesday with a brace on his left knee after sitting out Monday’s workout. He said afterward that he felt fine and that the brace didn’t bother him. “It’s not like I’m a dual-threat quarterback,” Bray said. “I don’t need to run anywhere.” … Tennessee linebacker Curt Maggitt also practiced Tuesday and said he’d play against Alabama, though he has a shoulder stinger and a toe injury. … Dooley said freshman receiver Jason Croom has undergone shoulder surgery and will take a medical redshirt this season. Tennessee freshman defensive back Tino Thomas is awaiting shoulder surgery and also will be a medical redshirt.