ILB - Alabama
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 260 lbs.
*2011 Consensus All-American
*2011 Preseason All-SEC Coaches 1st Team
*2010 Preseason All-SEC Coaches 1st Team
*2008 Freshman All-American (FWAA, CFN, Rivals)
Alabama has developed some impressive running backs and inside linebackers in the past couple years, and Hightower is a shining example of the type of NFL-ready players in the stable that allows them to be so successful at the collegiate level. Hightower has looked the part of a starting Mike linebacker in the NFL for two years, and as an early-entry junior he has a bright future. If he can keep his weight steady and play at a fast speed, Hightower can do many of the same things that Oakland's Rolando McClain or New England's Brandon Spikes did working as the physical inside presence of a defense. Hightower could be a better fit within a 3-4 scheme, as he has the size to shed big offensive linemen who would work free to block him in the run game.
Hightower is lengthy and imposing lining up in the middle of a defense. He has long arms that he uses effectively to fight off blockers, dip and push to avoid trash at his feet, and keep balls close to him. He is not the most athletic mover in space, but he uses his arms to tie up receivers within his zone and hand fight tight ends off the ball. He is technically sound, although his style of play looks effortless. There are not many wasted motions in his movements, and he takes good angles to the ball when working both sides of the field. Although Hightower doesn't quite possess the speed to be a true sideline-to-sideline inside backer or be the sole tackler in the middle of a 3-4 defense, he uses his instincts well and remains in position. Weaknesses
Hightower has a big frame and can labor at times to move in extended spaces on the field. He excels within the box but likely won't run down many scat backs at the next level. He is good to defend the pass in zone but struggles to maintain coverage in man after trying to disrupt at the line. Hightower struggles to flip his hips in man looks, and there are times when he has to change direction unexpectedly. He isn't heavy-footed, but he pursues the ball with a lot of momentum and can overshoot plays at times.