'Bama's then 4-3 defense as a freshman and the first few games of his sophomore year before the injury.
He then moved inside after recovering from reconstructive knee surgery and became a team captain this past season. Not only a good player, but a leader, who by the way, received his undergraduate degree in December of 2011.
Even Upshaw was impressed with his teammate's versatility.
"He's a big guy who can move," Upshaw told the Birmingham News. "To see that guy move the way he moves, to be so big ... he's a fast guy. Whoever gets him is going to be proud to get him.
"He made plays. He was a leader of our defense. I'm sure he could go on and lead a team in the NFL."
So how could a guy like this fit with the Cowboys?
Easily. Remember the versatility. He could help the Cowboys at inside linebacker. He could bring relief to DeMarcus Ware or Anthony Spencer at outside linebacker. And when the Cowboys go to their four-man line on nickel and dime, Hightower could become a designated pass rusher since he has experience with his hand on the ground.
Plus, he could train for a season behind Spencer, and if he successfully makes the transition back to outside 'backer, could save the Cowboys a whole lot of cap room if they can't get Spencer signed to a suitable long-term contract after this franchise season.
"The best thing about Hightower is his versatility," Nawrocki said, going out of his way to point out "how strong" Alabama's team captain is.
So what's not to like about Hightower?
He's strong, versatile, can play standing up or with his hand on the ground rushing the quarterback, which we all know the Cowboys dearly need. He's a former team captain with a college degree earned in four years and a recognized team leader by his Alabama teammates.
In fact, I'm told Hightower and Barron, his co-captain, would wage fierce competition on a weekly basis to see who could total the most "production points" in Alabama's scoring system. Barron won in 2010. Hightower won in 2011. And just remember, he played on the defense that just about led the nation in every statistical category and scored the first shutout in BCS Championship game history, 21-0, over LSU.
What's not to like about Dont`a Hightower?
Says PFW of Hightower in its 2012 Draft Preview:
"Works hard, is committed to the game and is well-versed in an NFL-style defense."
Sounds to me like a Jason Garrett kind a guy.