Castille commits!

In an offensive slugfest the East all-stars beat the West, 45-28 in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. <br><br>But Simeon Castille's second-half announcement that he was sticking with family and tradition and signing with Alabama was really all Crimson Tide fans cared about.

With father Jeremiah (‘79-'82) a former All-America cornerback at Alabama, Simeon Castille was considered a lock for the Tide by many recruiting pundits. And when you consider that brother Tim Castille signed with Alabama last year and Jeremiah now serves the team as chaplain, that assumption may have been logical.

But those that knew Simeon said repeatedly that he was seriously considering going elsewhere to make a name for himself. He looked at numerous schools, being especially enamored of Virginia at one point. But in the end it came down to SEC champion LSU and Alabama.

Surrounded in San Antonio by no less than 17 members of the Castille clan who made the trip to the all-star game, Simeon reached into a bag on the sidelines of the nationally televised contest and pulled out a Crimson Tide baseball cap.

Jeremiah Castille (middle) proudly looks at his son Simeon as he announces his intention to sign with Alabama to play college football.

"Alabama! Alabama! Roll Tide, baby!" was his declaration.

Standing next to him, father Jeremiah pulled off a sweatshirt to reveal a Crimson Tide coaching shirt.

"Simeon did a great job of going out and evaluating the different schools that he had a possibility of choosing," Jeremiah Castille said. "He narrowed it down to three or four schools there at the end."

Saturday Simeon Castille played safety for the victorious East squad. Though he clearly displayed good speed and athleticism, he also seemed to be bothered by the special rules governing the all-star game. Zone coverage was forbidden, so the two offenses flooded the middle of the field with post routes and crossing patterns, which caused problems for both sets of safeties.

National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming was responsible for selecting the all-star roster of 80 players to compete in Saturday's game.

"I think Coach (Mike Shula) has got himself a great one," Lemming said of Simeon's commitment to the Tide. "Tim Castille (Simeon's brother) was in the game here last year. Tim was a very versatile ball player, and Simeon is the same way."

At 6-1, 187 pounds and blessed with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, Simeon can handle numerous roles on a football field. He played offense, defense and virtually every special teams unit this past season as he helped Briarwood Christian to the 5A Alabama State Championship.

Simeon Castille could play any of several positions, but he seems ideally suited for the role of cover corner.

But while he'd like a chance to play some wide receiver in college, most recruiting pundits project him on defense.

"Simeon can play either wide receiver or running back on offense, but he's more suited to play cornerback or free safety in college," Lemming said.

With an older brother already enrolled at Alabama and his father already a Crimson Tide legend, Simeon seriously considered making his own way and declaring for a different school.

"It was tough," he said of the decision. "At first I kind of thought I wanted to get out of the tradition of my Dad and brother going to Alabama. I prayed about it, and God laid it on my heart where I needed to go."

With mother, father, siblings, grandparents and assorted other relatives surrounding him on the sidelines, it's not surprising that Simeon gave considerable weight to his family in making the decision.

"I was concerned that my family would never be able to see me play," Simeon Castille said. "With my Dad being the chaplain at Alabama, if I went far away it would be tough for them to see me play. It was better to stay at home."

Lemming spoke for the entire Alabama family in commenting on Simeon's decision. "Alabama has got themselves an outstanding person and football player," Lemming said. "The whole family is great."

Mother Jean Castille gives a "thumbs up" to the NBC television camera after Simeon's announcement for Bama.

Simeon plans to enroll for some summer classes at the Capstone to get an early start on conditioning for the fall.

"We'll see what happens," he said. "Keep the tradition rolling! I'm ready to turn the program around."

Defensive back Simeon Castille is the 18th prospect to commit to Alabama as part of the 2004 recruiting class.

Other Tide commitments include:

Cullman two-way lineman Justin Britt,
T.R. Miller tight end Trent Davidson,
Hillcrest High School offensive tackle Cody Davis,
Hoover middle linebacker/defensive lineman Curtis Dawson,
Prattville defensive lineman Kevin Hamilton,
Hoover defensive end Jeramie Holifield,
Thomasville defensive back Aaron Johns,
Randolph County wide receiver Ezekiel Knight,
Fort Payne wide receiver Aaron McDaniel,
Jacksonville, Fla. wide receiver Will Oakley,
Hillcrest cornerback Travis Robinson,
East Central (Miss.) Community College running back Titus Ryan (who is not expected to qualify),
Clarke County offensive tackle B.J. Stabler,
Hartselle wide receiver Nikita Stover,
Northwest Mississippi Community College defensive tackle Chris Turner,
Pike County tight end Nick Walker, and
Hoover quarterback John Parker Wilson.

RECRUITING NOTES: Alabama is allowed to bring in 19 new scholarshipped players this fall. The Tide is expected to sign as many as 22 to 24 players in February, anticipating that several will not become qualified. It's also possible that one or more players may be asked to delay entry into The University until the following January, counting against 2005 scholarship numbers, depending on how qualifying issues play out.

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