WR Tyrone Prothro

2004 Statistics

Coach: Mike Shula
10-15, 2 years
2004 Record: 6-6
at Arkansas LOST 10-27
at Kentucky WON 45-17
at Tennessee LOST 13-17
at Louisiana State LOST 10-26
vs. Minnesota LOST 16-20

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

With Mike Shula in his third year at the Capstone and still trying to get out from under crippling NCAA sanctions, Tide fans have become antsy. A rash of injuries on offense stifled what could have been a very special campaign, and expectations with this healthy group begin just as high. But with their starting quarterback, fullback and halfback still all recovering from career-threatening injuries, undeveloped, unknown guys will be readily tapped. Being dependent on true freshmen is an iffy proposition at best.

However, Shula's staff has reined in two strong classes and many will again crack the starting lineup. Shula has also put together an excellent staff, and, while making a few mistakes due to inexperience, has shown to be a competent head coach. Now he just needs to exorcise the injury demons and get some luck to roll his way.

Accordingly, this looks like a breakthrough year for Shula's tenure. The Tide will return eight starters to the nation's second-best (total) defense. Growth within the Shula regime means the single-back offense will have more wrinkles. A healthy Croyle would lead this group to compete for an SEC Western Division title. An injured Croyle, though it won't spell a repeat of last year's disappointment, would hurt their conference aspirations. And with undeveloped depth at running back, the Tide will earn any winning record.

While the restless Tide fan base seem to be patient with Shula's rebuilding process, another year of the same would put him under a cloud. But with a seriously weakened SEC West, the Tide has a shot at a special season. It also will help that most of their tough contests will be in the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny (Tennessee, Florida and LSU), and while this season could go either way, Shula's five-year plan to turn the Tide around looks like it will bear fruit shortly. But with a fan base hungry for return Alabama to the nation's pantheon of elite teams (12 national titles), the sooner the better for Shula. Tennessee and Auburn are two teams Shula has yet to beat, so definition games like these will judge the/his campaign most. Being second-best in this state won't again sit well. The Crimson Tide will wash away the stains of failure. And this team could even break through and get to lofty (top 10) national rankings, but achieving in the nation's toughest conference probably will take another year.

Projected 2005 record: 7-4
QB - 3 DL - 3.5
RB - 3.5 LB - 4.5
WR - 2.5 DB - 5
OL - 3 ..
Passing: Brodie Croyle, 66-44-0, 534 yds., 6 TD

Rushing: Kenneth Darby, 219 att., 1062 yds., 8 TD

: Tyrone Prothro, 25 rec., 347 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: Kenneth Darby, 9 TD, 54 pts.

Jeremy Schatz, 3 punts, 31.7 avg.

Kicking: None

Tackles: DeMeco Ryans, 78 tot., 46 solo

Sacks: Wallace Gilberry, 6.5 sacks

Interceptions: Roman Harper, 3 for 26 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Tyrone Prothro, 17 ret., 26.6 avg., 1 TD

Punt Returns: Brandon Brooks, 25 ret., 5.1 avg., 0 TD


DB Roman Harper
OFFENSE: Ray Hudson-TB, Wesley Britt-OT, Evan Mathis-OG, Danny Martz-OG, Brian Bostick-K, Spencer Pennington-QB (baseball)
DEFENSE: Todd Bates-DE, Anthony Bryant-DT, Cornelius Wortham-MLB, Bo Freelend-P

Strong has been the work of incumbent starter Brodie Croyle - 66% completion rate, six TDS, 0INTs and most importantly: three strong wins. When Croyle went down against Western Carolina with a torn ACL, second-stringer Marc Guillon took over and provided a win, but flopped as a starter - completed less than half of his passes, with three INTs. one TD and a pair of losses. Third-string quarterback Spencer Pennington was a little better, but note how this now-departed QB led them to their only three wins "post-Croyle". Another Croyle injury could prove similarly damaging, but the unit has more promise this time. Defenses are unable to stack eight defenders in the tackle box with the rifle-armed Croyle in the lineup, but Guillon doesn't yet have the touch or range on the deep ball to be much of a threat, so defenses can be front heavy then. But Guillon won the Bart Starr "Most Improved QB" in '04 spring play, so his upside isn't yet fully realized. Elusive true freshman John Parker Wilson has worked with the team in 2004's Music City Bowl practices, and is promising enough to already be listed as the No.2 guy in the school's latest depth chart. His presence makes this unit's glass half full, and allows a window into the future of/with the latest class' strong, well-balanced trio of new hurlers.

Running Back
This is another area where injuries decimated the depth chart. Leading rusher Ken Darby is coming off a fractured pelvic bone and hernia surgery that will keep him from reps in the spring. FB-TB Tim Castille (season-ending knee injury), too, will miss most (if not all) of spring. Fullback Le'Ron McLain spent the latter half of the season fighting nagging injuries, but he proved essential. Smallish TB Aaron Johns rounds out these four (of five) top rushers, and Johns is the only truly healthy one as of this preview. Four-star signees (Rivals.com) Roy Upchurch and Mike Ford both have the size and speed needed to push this unit's stock to the needed levels for it to be a genuine asset.

This seasoned group is headed by junior Tyrone Prothro and Matt Cadell. Prothro is a YAC-crazed producer while the lankier Cadell stretches the field. The biggest performance of 2004's newbies was by Keith Brown, who has the real size that typifies last year's recruiting class. Ergo, fellow sophomores D.J. Hall and Ezekial Knight will get reps as the passing game again blossoms with Croyle back. With marginally under-developed talent at tight end, Tide opponents will likely see three-wide formations more often than last season. Don't be thrown off by the low numbers due to the QB problems, because this dimension will again soon hum.

Tight End
Trent Davidson and Nic Walker will get the majority of the reps, with Davidson the better blocker and Walker a former split end. Athletic Greg McLain will see time here as well, making three big, viable targets for Croyle/whichever QB. 'Bama only goes to this position (maybe) once a game, but this will change as soft hands are found.

Offensive Line
This unit was gutted by graduation, and, with only two returning starters, will be full of question marks beyond spring. So far, the only full-time starters returning are senior center JB Closner and right tackle Kyle Tatum. Antoine Caldwell, who nearly battled his way into not redshirting last season, will move from center to left guard. Chris Capps, who did not travel with the team to the Music City Bowl for disciplinary reasons, will take over at left tackle despite a lackluster backup showing. The entire crew balances girth and mobility, shoving ahead for 4.4 yards per carry while only letting 16 sacks by (even with marginally talented QBs). With four (then) true freshmen learning the SEC ropes so well via 2004's tough trial-by-fire, expect a strong Tide line to make every other unit shine through its gelled foundation. Now, if they can only keep Croyle healthy.

The Tide's offensive season could again be divided into two phases. With Croyle, they possess a balanced, disciplined attack that controls the clock through smooth play-calling by offensive coordinator Dave Rader. But without the rifle-armed quarterback, the Tide will become predictable, allowing opposing defenses to stack eight or sometimes nine defenders in the box without a (yet) legitimate deep passing game to keep them honest. Depth at running back is also a big concern, but the bevy of backs waiting seem worthy of confidence here. The lack of experienced depth at tight end has more impact on the ground attack, for this is a key blocking position in Shula's one-back scheme. We see good things on this side of the ball, and it seems evident the Tide shall not again finish anywhere near 10th in the SEC in total offense.


RB Kenneth Darby


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Brodie Croyle-Sr (6-3, 205) John Parker Wilson-Fr (6-2, 207)
Marc Guillon-Jr (6-3, 212)
FB Tim Castille-Jr (5-11, 236) Le'Ron McClain-Jr (6-1, 256)
TB Kenneth Darby-Jr (5-11, 205) Aaron Johns-So (5-10, 188)
WR Tyrone Prothro-Jr (5-8, 178) D.J. Hall-So (6-3, 190)
WR Matt Caddell-So (6-0, 181) Keith Brown-So (6-3, 192)
TE Nick Walker-Fr (6-5, 245) Trent Davidson-So (6-5, 270)
OT Chris Capps-So (6-6, 286) Cody Davis-Fr (6-7, 277)
OG Antoine Caldwell-Fr (6-3, 296) Justin Moon-So (6-5, 290)
C J.B. Closner-Sr (6-4, 290) Taylor Britt-Sr (6-4, 292)
OG Mark Sanders-Sr (6-7, 315) B.J. Stabler-Fr (6-4, 295)
OT Kyle Tatum-Jr (6-8, 290) Drew Davis-Fr (6-6, 290)
K Jamie Christensen-So (6-0, 178) C.J. Rhody-Fr (6-0, 183)



Defensive Line
The Tide returns three starters to a well-gelled unit. Leading pass rusher Wallace Gilberry will become a full-time starter and dwarf his already strong stat-line. Other-DE Mark Anderson had more tackles and QB-hurries than Gilberry, and the reserves here, too, make us believe no one is getting outside with ease against the Tide. Inside is well shorn up, but the two-deep will rotate and fresh legs will allow this position to get the consistent push it lacked last campaign. Talented incoming freshmen Lorenzo Washington and Brandon Fanney headline a strong incoming class sure to help, as bodies are always needed here. Last year's modest level of play will make this squad's efforts seem huge as they reestablish what is traditionally a 'bama advantage.

The Tide's dynamic duo of all-SEC second-teamers DeMeco Ryans and Freddie Roach will again play a huge part in the group's success. Ryans (WLB) is savvy and learned, while Roach also can do time as a rush end. Roach, though, moves back to the middle. Juwan Garth, who played well in five starts, will take over for Roach on the weakside. Demarcus Waldrop is the current top reserve, and the two-deep balance looks strong. Now, if there is one weakness, it is a distinct lack of size, a fact fatally exposed via the methodical running success of Minnesota. Yet, this was the main unit responsible for the nation's second best total defense, so any critique(s) can ostensibly be overcome for success. A better line means that this position can roam for even more impact.

Defensive Back
The Tide secondary turned from a weakness into the nation's best pass defense. Shutdown corner Charlie Peprah successfully made the switch to strong safety, where he was a big factor in all phases. Ramzee Robinson's emergence as a legitimate shutdown corner allowed the coaching staff to move Peprah to safety. Simeon Castille is ready to become one of the country's best. Free safety Roman Harper is even more of a ball hawk than Peprah, so QBs will always wonder until their guys definitely have the ball. Incoming safety Chris Keyes represents two years of Shula's efforts to increase size/physicality here, and with so much talent returning to tutor the underclassmen, there is no dropoff here.

The Tide will return eight starters, so there will be little or no change in approach or execution. Coordinator Joe Kines' aggressive play-calling is their key. LBs line up any/everywhere, and effective blitzes therefore come from any/all angles. However, as the Music City Bowl showed, the Tide is vulnerable to a power rushing attack, but improved line depth will counter this. Secondary coach Chris Ball's charges went from being a weak link to heading the best defensive backfield in the nation, and the attitudes of his shut-down types will again set Alabama's daring tone. This side kept the Tide in nearly every game, and offensive improvements in ball-control and therefore clock-management/advantage mean an even-better rested group will again rule opponents. The previous criticism of Joe Kines after 2003's struggles on defense was muted by the performance of this group, and this time his legacy in the defensively-minded Crimson State will be cemented.


LB DeMeco Ryans


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Wallace Gilberry-So (6-3, 254) Chris Harris-Jr (6-5, 244)
DT Jeremy Clark-Jr (6-3, 305) Justin Britt-So (6-4, 294)
DT Rudy Griffin-Sr (6-0, 286) Dominic Lee-Jr (6-2, 303)
DE Mark Anderson-Sr (6-5, 253) Keith Saunders-So (6-3, 246)
SLB DeMeco Ryans-Sr (6-2, 232) Terrence Jones-Jr (6-1, 220)
MLB Freddie Roach-Sr (6-2, 248) Matt Collins-So (6-1, 241)
WLB Juwan Simpson-Jr (6-3, 222) Demarcus Waldrop-So (5-11, 190)
CB Ramzee Robinson-Jr (5-10, 190) Simeon Castille-So (6-1, 188)
CB Anthony Madison-Sr (5-9, 180) Lionel Mitchell-Fr (6-2, 180)
SS Charlie Peprah-Sr (5-11, 200) Marcus Carter-So (6-1, 190)
FS Roman Harper-Sr (6-1, 200) Jeffrey Dukes-Jr (6-1, 193)
P Jeremy Schatz-Sr (5-7, 148) Jeffrey Aul-Jr (6-2, 199)




Sophomore Jamie Christensen, who handled kickoffs last year and has a potent leg, will get a shot to replace Bostick. There is little depth here, so count this as a liability until worth is proven. Decent coverage units will only improve.

Juniors Jeremy Schatz and Jeffrey Aul will battle, but either should be a drop off from what the Tide had. Net results will suffer, and battles over field position will be tough to win.

Return Game
Prothro is one of more feared punt returners in the SEC. Foes need to look out for Marcel Stamps, the LB with deceptive speed who, like Prothro, had a return TD (his on a punt) and also one of the Tide's two blocks, so his special team efforts could again be game-changing.