MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ Alabama’s second-leading tackler, linebacker Michael Rogers, was hospitalized in serious condition Thursday after a pre-dawn auto accident.
Rogers sustained a head injury, cuts and scrapes in the crash, which killed another man and hurt a third person.
Doctors at Baptist Medical Center initially said Rogers was in fair condition after being treated in the emergency room, but after he was moved to the intensive care unit they decided his condition should be downgraded because of the closed-head injury, according to hospital spokesman Rick Derrick.
The second-ranked Crimson Tide meets No. 1 Miami in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 for the national championship. Coach Gene Stallings said Rogers will not play, even if he was released from the hospital Friday.
″Obviously it wouldn’t be to his advantage to do so,″ Stallings said at a news conference at the hospital Thursday.
The coach talked to Rogers briefly, asking who Rogers thought should replace him in the game, to determine how alert the player was.
Rogers, 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, a sophomore with 68 tackles, was a passenger in a car that hit a culvert about 3:15 a.m. EST in Butler County.
″The car rolled over,″ state trooper Lt. George Smith said.
James Derrick Patterson, 21, died in the crash, Smith said. Another passenger, Daniel Richburg, was listed in good condition at the Montgomery hospital, Smith said, while driver Lamont Jones had only minor injuries.
All men are Luverne residents in their early 20s, said Smith.
Rogers was taken to a hospital in Greenville before being transferred to Montgomery.
″He’s in one of our intensive care units,″ Derrick said. ″The physicians say the injuries are not life-threatening.″
Doctors expected to know the outcome of the head injury within 48 to 72 hours, Derrick said at the news conference. Among family members who gathered at the hospital was Rogers’ brother Lamar, who played for Auburn and now is with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Rogers and the two others were on their way home from a nightclub.
Stallings was informed of the crash a few hours after it occurred. He said the players were not under curfew Wednesday night.
″I had given players a few days off. Several of his teammates had gotten together and they were on their way back home. ... They had probably been out celebrating a little bit,″ he said.
Rogers started in 11 games this season at inside linebacker.
Stallings said those in line to take Rogers’ place in the lineup were Mario Morris, Jeff Torrence and John Walters.
″It definitely will affect our team. ...It will have a sobering effect,″ Stallings said.
The coach planned to travel to New Orleans on Thursday night and said he would keep in touch with the hospital by phone.