- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Alabama forward Nick Jacobs is participating in the team’s offseason workouts after missing the final seven games in a disappointing season while two other players are departing.

Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant said Wednesday that Jacobs’ status hasn’t changed “for now” since ending the season on what Alabama described as a leave of absence from the team.

“Obviously he and I have met and talked,” Grant said. “I think Nick understands the things that we need to continue to monitor and pursue as we move forward.”

The Tide has undergone some changes since Grant’s first losing season as a head coach, even if Jacobs returns for his senior year. Center Carl Engstrom, who started 10 games, has left to pursue professional basketball in Europe. Guard Algie Key, a nine-game starter, plans to transfer.

Four-year starter Trevor Releford, easily Alabama’s best player, is also gone.

Grant said he is still recruiting with the two scholarships opening up and also has transfers Ricky Tarrant and Michael Kessens available after sitting out last season. Grant is trying to turn Alabama’s fortunes around after a 13-19 season. Athletic director Bill Battle swiftly ended any speculation that Grant’s job was in jeopardy after the season, saying he believed the program has “better days ahead.”

Grant thinks so, too.

“For me it’s about trying to get this program where it needs to be and put ourselves in position where we compete for championships,” he said. “I think that’s what coach Battle expects, that’s what I expect, that’s what our fans who support us expect - as they should. I’m certainly appreciative of his confidence and support. I understand what we’ve got to be able to do.”

He said that means continuing to play challenging schedules. That tactic backfired last season after two players transferred and a third was dismissed, leaving the Tide short-handed. Grant wants to keep playing the likes of Wichita State and Duke, and the Southeastern Conference has a league-wide mandate to upgrade nonconference opponents.

“Like I talked about with our team a lot, as a coach, I’m not afraid to fail,” Grant said. “I’m not afraid to put ourselves out there. Because I understand the vision I have, I understand where we want to take this program and what needs to happen in order for us to be able to do that. And we’ve got to be willing to go out and do that. So I think as a league, we have to be willing to do that.”



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