Bama racks up two weekend commitments

With Sunday's twin commitments of fullback LeRon McClain and tailback Tim Castille, Alabama should be set at running back for some time to come.

Both McClain and Castille were rated the top players at their position in the state of Alabama, and their decision to go ahead and announce their intentions to sign with the Tide strengthens an already impressive 2003 class. "I committed a little over an hour ago," McClain told Sunday afternoon. "My family, coach and I went over and sat down with Coach Fran and I told him I was ready to get it over with."

McClain (left), teammate Terrence Jones (center) and Tuscaloosa County Coach Robert Higgenbotham (right) visit practice last spring.

McClain and Castille's decisions made for a terrific one-two recruiting punch for Alabama. McClain said, "We were in the locker room (Saturday, following the scrimmage) and Tim told me that he had just committed to Coach Fran. I was very happy for him. I told him that I was going to meet with Coach Fran (Sunday) with my parents and that I was going to commit also."

Though his decision didn't become public until Sunday morning, when his father Jeremiah spoke to a television reporter, Castille committed to Franchione the previous day. "I have always been a fan of Alabama," Castille said, explaining his preference for the Tide. "I just love the coaching staff. I feel real comfortable with them and I like their philosophy."

McClain, (6-1, 242, 4.59) of Tuscaloosa County, is rated the #1 fullback in the South by BorderWars and is a big, punishing runner. He racked up 1,070 yards rushing and scored 21 touchdowns at fullback. McClain also had 97 tackles at linebacker. He moves well laterally and will be playing a lot of linebacker this year as well, though he projects as a fullback in college.

"The coaches told me that if I come in and work hard that I have a chance to start as a freshman," McClain related, "or at least get playing time. Castille will be coming in as a tailback, so we can play in the backfield together. The plan is for me to be a big part of the offense running, blocking, and catching passes. The Alabama offense is great."

Castille at Alabama's one-day camp last month.

Castille's name is of course quite familiar to Tide fans. His father, Jeremiah Castille, was one of the best cornerbacks in the history of Alabama football. Castille starred for the Tide from 1979-1982, before moving to the NFL where he played for Tampa Bay and Denver. "I have always been a huge Alabama fan," Tim Castille said. "They treat my father so well."

Tim Castille (5-11, 223, 4.50) has been a high school star since eighth grade. Back then he played wide receiver, but tailback is his position now. With a full season left to go, Castille has 8,100 career all-purpose yards, including 2,750 on the ground and 3,814 through the air (221 receptions).

A slasher that can run around you or over you, Castille obviously has terrific hands. One of his primary concerns in recruiting was selecting a team that would utilize his versatile talent. "I think I am an all-around back," said Castille. "I can run over you or around you. I am not afraid to lower my shoulder."

The Tide now has eleven athletes verbally committed. Besides Castille and McClain, Andraus Grace (DT), Travis West (OL), Eric Packer (ATH), D.J. Chambers (WR/DB), Justin Moon (OL), Chris Felder (CB), Mario Lane (DE/TE), Eric Gray (CB) and Jarod Parrish (safety) have announced for Bama.

Under Dennis Franchione, the Tide has made a habit of garnering early commitments during the summer. He has not yet announced his decision, but McClain's teammate at Tuscaloosa County, linebacker Terrence Jones, could be next. "I will probably put some pressure on him," McClain said laughing. "But it will have to be his decision. I will probably use the line Tim Castille used on me (Saturday).

"‘What's taking you so long?'"

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