Tim Castille took one of many small steps forward on Friday when he did squats, a lift that puts pressure directly on the knees, for the first time since the injury. There are many steps remaining to his rehabilitation, however.
"It is a four to six month thing. I probably won't go through spring," Castille said in an interview with BamaMag.com Friday. "I've been jogging around a little bit and everything feels great. I'm waiting on my quad and hamstring to get back strong. It's like you are a baby all over again. I believe that's probably what takes the longest, is to get the strength back to what it was."
Although he won't have any contact in the spring, Castille will be able to work on some things on the side or perhaps in non-contact team drills.
"I don't think it will be that bad because I'll be able to do some things," he said. "If I had to sit there and watch like I did in the fall that would be bad. Just as long as I'm able to do something it will be okay."
Given May as a conservative estimate of Castille's return, he will have over two months to fine tune for fall training camp. Castille started at fullback for Alabama as a true freshman, and has not taken a redshirt year. The thought of sitting out next year has not crossed his mind.
"I think I will be back to full strength any time from March to May," he said. "The biggest thing is having patience and doing what the doctors tell me. Not trying to do too much. It's just slow. There's no easy way around it."
The more pressing question about Castille's future might be about where he will lineup in the Tide's backfield. Castille split time between the fullback and tailback position last season. Castille has been open about his desire to play tailback, but he has also shown versatility and willingness to play fullback.
"From the start I came here to play tailback," Castille said. "I have to sit down with the coaches and see what the plan is, but my dream is to be a tailback at the University of Alabama."
Shula said Castille's role in the fall will depend somewhat on which players at which positions sign with Alabama in February and report in the fall.
"I see his role being the same (as 2004)," Shula said. "That's not set in stone. I think he was just coming into his own and making plays as both a fullback and halfback. We're going to be flexible."