January 24, 2014

Ed Stinson tries to impress as he puts Iron Bowl nightmare behind

An injury will keep Alabama DE Ed Stinson, a South Dade grad, out of the Senior Bowl. But he still has NFL hopes.

Ed Stinson was a witness to history. But every time he sees it replayed, he wants to throw his television out the window.

Stinson, a former star at South Dade High School, was on Alabama’s field-goal team on the final play of the Iron Bowl.

Translation: One of the most remarkable — and in the case of the Crimson Tide, gut-wrenching — finishes in recent sports history.

What you (probably) know: Auburn’s Chris Davis returned a missed field goal for a touchdown, putting the Tigers in the SEC title game and ending Alabama’s three-peat hopes.

What you probably don’t: Stinson had a chance to bring Davis down well short of the end zone, but took a bad angle and was ultimately blocked out of the play.

“I was the wing, on the right side,” Stinson, a fifth-year senior defensive end, explained this week. “I took a bad angle. I thought it was gone [out the back of the end zone]. I stopped and I looked and it was all like slow motion to me. I just saw him walking down the sideline. I was like, ‘Dang.’ ”

In the weeks since, Stinson has seen replays of the wild run-back more times than he can count. And each time, it hurts.

And so how’s this for a cruel twist of fate: For a least a few hours Monday, Stinson and his foil — Davis — were teammates. They gave interviews that night just feet away from each other.

Both Stinson and Davis were picked for the Senior Bowl, and Alabama and Auburn players were both put on the South Team. Stinson ultimately backed out of the game after a nagging groin injury flared up Monday, but not before he practiced on the same defense as Davis, a prospective NFL defensive back.

“I ain’t sweating it,” Stinson said with a chuckle, when asked of the bizarre nature of teaming up with a person responsible for so much disappointment.

“There were a lot of mistakes on us,” he continued. “We made a lot of mistakes on defense, we made a lot of mistakes on offense. I would say that they got lucky, but we didn’t do what we’re supposed to do. It was all on us.”

Besides, both have the same goal now: Get drafted as high as possible the second weekend in May.

Stinson not only grew up following the Dolphins, he used to work in a concession stand at Sun Life Stadium on game days. But the chances of a return to his hometown seem remote.

Not through any deficiency in his game, though. The Dolphins simply don’t have a need for him. The No. 3 pick in the draft last year, Dion Jordan, wasn’t even a starter.

Still, stranger things have happened, and Stinson’s versatility could be intriguing for the Dolphins, who like using multiple fronts.

Stinson, an all-SEC second-teamer and recent college graduate, has played both defensive end and Jack linebacker in 3-4 formations. He said he’s comfortable standing up, and even dropping in coverage.

But what he really wants to prove — and wishes he could have this week — is that he can move forward.

“Right now, they think I can’t pass-rush,” said Stinson, presumably talking about scouts. “They’ve got the wrong idea.”

With just 5.5 collegiate sacks, Stinson needs to show those evaluators why they’re wrong in the next four months. This week would have been his best chance, but it wasn’t meant to be.

He hopes to be well enough to participate in next month’s Scouting Combine, but that won’t have the real-game reps that he would have put on tape this week.

“For real, I need to go, get into rehab, get my body right so I can perform and show what I’ve got,” Stinson said.

Maybe then, people will want to talk to him about something other than Chris Davis and that infamous play.

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