Hightower during the 2011 LSU vs. Alabama football game
No. 54 New England Patriots
|Date of birth:March 12, 1990|
|Place of birth: Lewisburg, Tennessee|
|High school: Lewisburg (TN) Marshall County|
|NFL Draft: 2012 / Round: 1 / Pick: 25|
|Debuted in 2012 for the New England Patriots|
|Roster status: Active|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2013
Qualin Dont'a Hightower (born March 12, 1990) is an American football linebacker for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Alabama, was recognized as an All-American, and was a member of two BCS National Championship teams. Hightower was selected by the Patriots in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and is considered one of the best inside linebackers of his class.
Hightower was born in Lewisburg, Tennessee. He attended Marshall County High School in Lewisburg, where he played for the Marshall County Tigers high school football team. he first drew recognition his sophomore year when the team's starting running back quit the team. In the last four games of the season, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns. After growing to 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) prior to his junior year, Hightower was moved to linebacker and tight end. He collected 98 tackles, two sacks, and seven forced fumbles, while at TE, he caught 18 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns.
Having grown to six feet, three inches tall as a senior, Hightower again switched positions, playing defensive end. After recording 168 tackles (14 for loss), five forced fumbles, five interceptions and four fumble recoveries, he was named 3A Mr. Football Lineman of the Year and The Tennessean′s Defensive Most Valuable Player in 2007. He also added 875 yards and 19 touchdowns on offense.
Hightower was selected to play in the U.S. Army East West All-Star Game in San Antonio, Texas. He also earned four-star ratings from Rivals.com and Scout.com. Hightower chose Alabama over Auburn, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt
Hightower attended the University of Alabama, where he played for coach Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide football team from 2008 to 2011. As one of only two true freshmen to be regular starter for the Crimson Tide in 2008, Hightower started 12 games while playing in all 14 at weakside inside linebacker ("Will") in the Alabama's 3-4 defense, next to Rolando McClain who occupied the other inside linebacker spot ("Mike"). Hightower recorded 64 tackles (4th on the team) and 2.5 tackles for loss, while also having one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He had at least one tackle in each game and had five or more stops in seven of 14 games, including 10 against Tulane and a career-high 11 at LSU. He was subsequently named to numerous Freshman All-American teams.
For the 2009 season, during the Arkansas game, Hightower suffered a knee injury in the first quarter when he was cut blocked by an Arkansas lineman. He was diagnosed a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and missed the rest of the season with surgery. True freshman Nico Johnson replaced him at weakside linebacker. Hightower recorded 16 tackles including 4 tackles for loss. Having played only four games, he was granted a medical redshirt making him a redshirt sophomore in 2010.
Returning for the 2010 season, Hightower was expected to "be the nucleus of a young defense". He replaced McClain as Alabama’s middle linebacker, and captained a defense that ranked No. 1 nationally in all five major categories—scoring defense (8.8 ppg), total defense (191.3 ypg), rushing defense (74.9 ypg), pass efficiency defense (83.9 ypg) and pass defense (116.3 ypg). Hightower led the team with a career-best 81 tackles, including 37 solo stops, as well as three sacks (-16 yards) and 9.5 tackles for loss (-35 yards). He also registered eight quarterback hurries, one interception, one blocked field goal and three pass breakups.
Hightower was a consensus first-team All-American by the Associated Press, AFCA and Walter Camp as well as Rivals.com and Pro Football Weekly. He was also a finalist for the Lombardi Award, Chuck Bednarik Award, the Butkus Award and the Lott Trophy.
College career statistics
- Correct as of 2011 season.
2012 NFL Draft
As early as April 2011, Hightower was projected a potential first-round draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Shortly after the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, he announced his decision to forgo his final year of eligibility. Right after the season ended, he was projected a late first round selection. After solid performances at the NFL Combine and Alabama Pro Day, he was still regarded as a late first rounder. On April 26, 2012, Hightower was selected by the New England Patriots with the 25th overall pick in the draft. 
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert||Broad||BP|
|6 ft 2¼ in||265 lb||32⅝ in||9¾ in||4.68 s||4.64 s||7.55 s||32 in||9 ft 9 in|
|All values from NFL combine, except BJ, 20-SS and 3-cone, which are from Alabama Pro Day.|
New England Patriots
On July 19, 2012, Hightower agreed to a contract with the Patriots.  It was reported that the deal was four years, worth $7.7 million. In his first game for the Patriots, he recovered a fumble (forced by fellow debuting rookie Chandler Jones) and returned it for a touchdown. 2013 proved to be a successful season for Dont'a, he led the team with 97 combined tackles.
Professional Career Regular Season Stats
- "ESPN Profile". ESPN.com.
- "NFL Draft - 2012 ILB Draft Prospects". CBSSports.com.
- Porter, Yancy (March 19, 2007). "Dont'a Hightower's recruiting profile". Scout.com.
- Cooper, Josh (April 5, 2009). "Saban finally has experienced linebackers". The Anniston Star.
- "AON Insurance/FWAA Freshman All-America Team". FWAA. 2009-01-08.
- Cirminiello, Richard (December 11, 2008). "2008 CFN All-Freshman Second & HM Teams". College Football News.
- "Rivals.com 2008 Freshman All-America teams". Rivals.com. 2008-12-17.
- "Hightower out for the season with knee injury". TideSports.com. September 28, 2009.
- Kausler, Don, Jr. (November 16, 2009). "Alabama analysis: 2010 defense will have a tough act to follow, but the talent will be there". The Birmingham News.
- Low, Chris (August 11, 2010). "Hybrid role suits Tide's Hightower just fine". ESPN.com.
- Cumulative Season Statistics. University of Alabama Athletic Department. Retrieved 2012-04-06
- Pauline, Tony (May 3, 2011). "Stanford's Luck headlines early look at top 2012 draft prospects". Sports Illustrated.
- Reuter, Chad (May 4, 2011). "2012 mock draft: First look with Luck and Heels". CBSSports.com.
- "Alabama's Trent Richardson, two teammates to enter NFL draft". USA Today. January 12, 2012.
- "2012 NFL Mock Draft: Post-BCS Championship Game version". CNN. January 10, 2012.
- "Andrew Luck tops pre-Super Bowl NFL mock draft". CNN. January 27, 2012.
- "2012 NFL Mock Draft 3.0". CNN. March 23, 2012.
- Patriots trade up again, land Dont’a Hightower-NBC Sports Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- Patriots sign LB Hightower-ESPN Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- "Dont'a Hightower". New England Patriots. Retrieved 31 December 2013.