Friday Night Lights: Tatum takes no prisoners

PRATTVILLE-- One of the best feelings when you scout a player is to show up for his game, watch it, and come away more impressed than you had hoped for. Such was the case for FNL's trip to Prattville to scout one Kyle Tatum. The 6-6, 260 defensive lineman seemed to be either the first or second man in on every tackle in his team's 14-11, come-from-behind win over area foe Robert E. Lee.

A tall, rangy guy who some compare to former Tider Shannon Brown at this stage of his career, Tatum got good penetration and seemed to be good at stunting. His head coach, Bill Clark, says Friday's performance was par for the course for his senior star.

"He just came up big tonight. He's going to try to make some plays. He's been doing it throughout his career. He's just such a great kid. He's going to be a great player at Alabama," said Clark.

Steve Martin, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for Alabama, measures Kyle Tatum at last summer's Alabama football camp.

Clark adds that Kyle's strengths are "intelligence, he's got great speed to be so big, just the whole nine yards."

Tatum has the ability to play either end or tackle for the Tide. Many feel he'll try and beef up to play inside in the SEC. On to the categories:

Misdirection: We really had no excuse, having seen the Lions play at home a few years back while scouting former Tider Jeremy Walker, but we thought it'd be easy enough to find the stadium by following signs to the high school. You know, the old "get close and you'll see the lights" scenario. Minor problem: The Lions play their home games at Stanley Jensen Stadium, in a city park. The first set of lights we saw were for a lightly attended soccer game at the high school. As it was, we only missed the first three minutes of play, but that meant waiting till halftime to research the next topic.

How 'Bout Them Burgers: To be fair, it was halftime when we tasted the char-grilled specialties of the PHS Band Boosters' concession stand. The hot light the wrapped burgers were under didn't keep 'em hot, but they were moist and tasty with the grilled flavor still intact. And, as always, we liked the handy condiment table.

Senior stars: Kudos to the entire Prattville offensive line, a senior dominated squad and a cohesive unit. Tony Piedra, Christopher Stanfield, William Ward and Jay Anderson have obviously played together for a while.

Lee DB Chris McQueen, DL Cody Eiland and OLB Michael Thomas are enjoying good senior years.

Juniors To Watch: Prattville OL Jared Smith is the lone underclass starter on the Lions' interior five. Heights and weights were not listed in the program, but he's a big guy. DB Steven Albert is an important part of the Lions' secondary. WR/P Josh Currey is a player.

Lee punter Keith Boutwell twice downed the ball inside the Prattville five. DT Pedro Bennett (6-4, 330) is getting better each week and, if he works hard in the classroom, will get a lot of attention this time next year.

Tatum shows his agility on the vertical jump.

Super Sophs: Lion RB Ty Griswold appears to have a future toting the pigskin. DT Titus Daniel gets after folks. TE Travis McCall of Prattville looks to have a future in football, along with LBs Todd Thompson and Larry Ishman.

Lee FS Eric Robinson continues to improve.

Just A Freshman: Rico Albert starts in the secondary for the Lions, a top five 6-A team. He's one to watch.

Brandon Brooks Lookalike Contest: As one PHS alum, and Bamamag board poster yelled from the stand, "He's as big as Brandon Brooks!" The fellow discussed was senior QB Derrron Tagger of the Lions, who appeared a tad bigger than Brandon. Elusive and quick as a hiccup, Tagger's breakaway long-distance run sealed the General's fate on this night. Along with...

Worst Spot: Lion running back Randy Anderson appeared stopped at the line on a third and one play, but the officials appeared to see a different view, awarding him two more feet and enough for a clock-killing late first down. Hard to say which was more controversial: the spot on that play or Neal Thomas' first field goal attempt the next day.

Fashion Statement: The visiting Generals broke out brand new red pants to go with white jersies. That, combined with the crimson of the Lions, gave the game the look of an old Alabama-Nebraska clash.

The Stat-Man: Not too many schools have the tradition of Lee, and, to our knowledge none have their own Sports Information Director. Don Walker has been volunteering his time in that capacity since the Spence McCracken era at LHS. "I come by my stats honestly," says Walker, who is Director of Internal Auditing for Maxwell Federal Credit Union in Montgomery. "My dad used to keep stats for the Birmingham Barons and he'd take me up there with him."

Walker puts out a pre-game preview for every Generals game, featuring rosters, stats, series histories and personal looks at Lee seniors. You may have never heard of Don Walker, but trust us when we tell you sportswriters from Florence to Mobile know and appreciate him.

Crimson Connection: Former Tide punter Hayden Stockton got into coaching first with Jacksonville State and now with Prattville High. Stockton tutors the Lion linebackers. Former Tide DB Shon Lee is a PHS alum. A Shon Lee was paged during the game to meet his parents. We're thinking that was the son.

Best Logo: The fitted Nike caps worn by PHS coaches and fans featured a "P" with the mane of a lion forming the upper part of the letter. Sharp.

Ooh, That Smell: It stank when we were growing up in Montgomery, and that much hasn't changed about the paper mill in Pratttville. If you've ever driven U.S. 82 between Montgomery and Tuscaloosa, you know this.

Next Week: Tide quarterback commitment Brandon Avalos and his Hillcrest Patriots play host to Wenonah in south Tuscaloosa.


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