Maybe yes, maybe no

The rumors are swirling. Antwan Odom is gone, having already signed with an agent and started his pre-NFL combine workouts. And if the gossip mill is to be believed, half Bama's returning junior linemen aren't far behind.

Guard Justin Smiley (recently named first-team All-SEC by the Associated Press) at one time had scheduled a press conference. That may or may not take place when originally announced, but there is no doubt he is strongly considering his pro prospects.

Smiley has made no secret his intent to stay in school for just four years and then hopefully move on to the NFL, so many of his teammates frankly assume he's gone.

But at this point Smiley has only applied to the NFL for an estimate of his draft prospects. According to a knowledgeable source at the Tide Football Complex, the junior lineman has told his coaches that he will take that information and discuss it with his family before making a final decision.

Justin Smiley

The odds still favor Smiley leaving, but as of Wednesday afternoon that has not yet happened.

Defensive tackles Anthony Bryant and Ahmad Childress have also inquired about their possible draft status, but contrary to Internet and talk-radio speculation neither has made a final decision.

Both Bryant and Childress have received advice from NFL scouts and agents to stay in school, if possible. Neither is projected to be a high draft choice. In fact, both athletes could well end up undrafted.

But as a partial qualifier, Bryant frankly might not have a choice in the matter. For him to be eligible in 2004, the fourth-year player would have to graduate before the start of fall classes.

Assuming he passed all his coursework this semester, Bryant would still be left with 25 hours to be taken (and passed) during spring and summer. That would be a full course load, but certainly possible.

However, if this semester's grades bring bad enough news, the Newbern native's decision may have been made for him.

Again, as of Wednesday afternoon, Bryant was still waiting out the results of fall term. No decision had been made.

Ahmad Childress

Childress' situation is less complicated, but also probably related to academic concerns. The fourth-year junior need only meet NCAA degree-progress rules to be eligible next season. But as with Bryant, the results of Childress' course work this semester will factor into his decision.

It's possible that Internet rumor is correct. But if Childress has already made the decision to leave Alabama and declare for the NFL draft, he's done so without informing the Tide coaches. This according to an extremely knowledgeable source close to the football team (as of Wednesday afternoon).

The same source said he expected that Smiley would probably end up following his heart to the NFL. As for Bryant and Childress, the source said Alabama could lose one of the big tackles, though not necessarily. But he'd be surprised if both athletes ended up leaving.

EDITOR'S NOTE: As we hear new information, we'll quickly pass it along. But this represents the latest (as of Wednesday, 3:38 pm, CT).

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