Hill, who is from Huntsville, appeared headed to a redshirt season before taking the field in Saturday’s 45-3 win over Georgia State. He played with the first-team offensive line and finished the game during garbage time.
“Grant Hill is very, very intelligent. Very bright guy. Very football smart,” Saban said. “It’s very important to him, so he’s very much committed and has a lot of pride in performance. He’s one of those guys that is going to make sure he knows what to do and how to do it.
“He works hard every day to try to make sure that he’s doing it the right way. From a character and attitude standpoint, you couldn’t ask for a guy that has better intangibles.”
Saban said the decision was made because he feels the team needs him.
“I think it creates some competition,” Saban said. “I think he’s very close to being one of our five best players. Whatever position he has to play, we felt like we had to get somebody else ready to play.”
Chris Black was expected to be the Crimson Tide’s breakout freshman receiver last season, but a shoulder injury suffered in August 2012 sidelined Black and forced him to redshirt.
Now, Black is back and carving up defenses when given the opportunity. He was the Tide’s leading receiving with six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown from Blake Sims.
Black said he has remained patient and is “ready for any opportunity I get.” On his touchdown catch, he made a defender miss with a move, then he dove for the end zone.
“Every play I go out there, I think about doing something,” Black said. “I try not to do too much, but it’s exciting to get in that end zone.”
Walk-on Parker Barrineau made his first career reception and gained 6 yards on a hitch route, picking up a first down in the process.
Barrineau, who is from Northport, said it felt good to play in front of some hometown fans.
“It’s definitely a weight off my shoulders finally,” Barrineau said. “Months and months of preparation and getting to play, especially making a catch for first down, is a blessing.”
According to Alabama’s participation chart, 70 Tide players saw time in Saturday’s game, and one of them was star receiver Amari Cooper, although he wasn’t one of the 15 different players to catch a pass.
“Amari practiced well this week,” Saban said. “Every now and then, his toe gets a little sore, especially when we practice on turf. We really weren't holding him out. … It would be real beneficial to us if we could get Coop back in the swing of things. I think he’s very close to being able to get there.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban said in his postgame news conference there is no new information on suspended safety HaHa Clinton-Dix's situation. Clinton-Dix was suspended indefinitely Monday for what Saban called a violation of team rules and policies.
“When we get new information, we'll certainly pass it along," Saban said.
Saban said linebacker Denzell Devall sprained his knee, but could have returned if necessary. Devall limped off the field after the game with ice on his left knee.
Saban said true freshman cornerback Eddie Jackson sprained his ankle, but could have returned as well.
Junior defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan didn't play because he sprained his shoulder in practice this week, and Saban said the team didn't want to push him.
For the sixth time in its last nine games, Alabama has held its opponent scoreless in the first half. Along with Saturday’s game, Crimson Tide shut out Ole Miss (Sept. 28), Colorado State (Sept. 21), Notre Dame (Jan. 7), Auburn (Nov. 24, 2012) and Western Carolina (Nov. 17, 2012) during the first two quarters of play.
Under Saban, the Tide has held opponents to 10 points or fewer 44 times since the start of the 2007 season.
During Saban’s last 73 games at Alabama (since the start of the 2008 season), the Tide has held the opposing offense to fewer than 200 yards 27 times. Alabama limited Georgia State to 175 yards and nine first downs.
Alabama hits the road for an SEC matchup with Kentucky in Lexington.
The Wildcats went into Saturday’s action 1-3. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. from Commonwealth Field. ESPN2 will televise the game.