FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) _ The New England Patriots signed
first-round draft choice Dont’a Hightower on Thursday to a
four-year contract.

Hightower, 22, was selected by New England with the 25th overall
pick in April. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound linebacker from Alabama was
a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik, Butkus and Lombardi Awards, and
was a consensus All-American in 2011.

Hightower started 42 of 44 games at Alabama and registered 234
total tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumbles
recovered, seven passes defensed, one interception and one blocked
field goal.

After starting in 12 of 14 games as a true freshman in 2008,
Hightower was granted a medical redshirt year in 2009 after being
limited to just four games due to injury. He started all 13 games
in 2010 and again in 2011. Last season, he led the team with a
career-high 85 total tackles.

With training camp on the horizon, all of New England’s draft
picks have been signed.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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