Alabama head coach Nick Saban said the highly touted pass-catcher has practiced and is ready to play. Black injured his left shoulder in the first week of preseason practice and underwent surgery. He rejoined practice three weeks ago, but he wasn’t cleared for contact until Monday.
Black was slated to be redshirted until receiver Kenny Bell broke his leg in Saturday’s win over Auburn.
“Chris wants to play,” Saban said, adding he made the decision in combination with Black and his family. “He can help the team by playing. It might help his development between this game and one more game, wherever it is, whoever it’s against, in terms of his development for the future. It’s a tough decision and you never know it’s the right decision because you never know what’s going to happen five years from now.”
Saban said he has come across this situation before. In 2001 at LSU, he played true freshman cornerback Travis Daniels for the first time in the SEC Championship Game.
Daniels was forced into action when Randall Gay was injured during the game, leaving nobody left to play. He broke up two passes in the 31-20 win, including one in the end zone. After four years, Daniel was a fourth-round NFL draft pick and is still in pro football with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We had to make that decision on the spot,” Saban said. “We didn’t really have anybody else to play corner. He ended up being a fourth-round draft pick in his fourth year. I don’t know if he would have stayed for another year. He had already graduated. I think that’s what you have to weigh.”