Fleet receiver impresses early

The first time Antonio Carter saw Tyrone Prothro take the practice field, the senior knew that the true freshman would be a good one at the Capstone. <br><br>"He has great speed," Carter said. "He catches the ball well.

"He does things as a true freshman that you don't look for a true freshman to come in and do well," Carter continued. "He has good technique and catches the ball real well."

Do the math. Add in great speed, technique, and hands, and the 5-foot-8 and a quarter-inch freshman from Cleburne County in Heflin sees his chances of contributing as a true freshman increase by the day.

It's not easy for a true freshman to play his first year, but Tyrone Prothro has made an early impact during fall camp.

"Right now I'm doing pretty good with the help of some of the veterans that know the system," Prothro said. "With them helping me and me listening to Coach (Charlie Harbison), I think I'm doing pretty good. As of right now I think I have a pretty good chance of playing if I learn the plays and learn them to perfection."

After the first day of practice, head coach Mike Shula singled out Prothro and fellow wide receiver Matt Caddell as two true freshmen that caught his eye early. After the second day, Shula wasn't as happy with the team in general, but commented on how newcomers have it more difficult since NCAA rules now say that the freshmen and varsity must report and begin practice at the same time.

"He wasn't great today but he did okay," Shula said of Prothro. "But these young kids, these freshmen have it tough. Without having to be coached by themselves, they're doing a nice job."

Prothro committed to the Tide under the Price staff, but said that it helps that the coach who recruited him, Chris Ball, is still here. But he said that he never thought about going anywhere else.

"It was a little difficult because I thought things were going to be different, but it's still the same," Prothro said. "I realized it's no different then I thought. I've been an Alabama fan all my life, and I never thought about changing schools."

He's probably the smallest receiver on the team with the exception of Brandon Brooks, but Prothro knows how to be effective.

"My speed helps me out a lot," Prothro said. "Most DBs might be a step slower than me and I use my leg strength to go up and get the ball. I have pretty good hands."

Prothro built up his leg strength and worked on his conditioning while running track. He finished second in the 200-meter dash and third in the 100-meter dash as a junior, but took home a state championship in both events his senior year.

Prothro talks to a reporter following practice. Already one of the fastest players on the squad, the wide receiver will get also get a look at kick returns.

"Being in track helped me get into a little better shape. It kept me active," Prothro said.

His early mentors, seniors Carter, Triandos Luke, Dre Fulgham, and Zach Fletcher, will all be gone next year. That is something that has opened Prothro's eyes towards the future. "It motivates me to really step it up this year because I know for the next three years I'm going to be one of the best receivers that's here," Prothro said.

While Shula says that he's a wide receiver for now, the prospect of playing defense remains a possibility. And definitely don't be surprised to see him returning kicks at some point in his career.

"Right now I'm focusing on offense, but if it comes down to defense I'll play it," Prothro said. "One of my specialties is kick returns.

"Wherever they stick me, I'll play."

Whatever happens, and especially if he sticks at wide receiver, Prothro has the potential to be very good.

"Most definitely (I think they will)," Carter said. "I think him and Caddell will be great players. I think they will continue to work hard and stay focused."

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