In discussing Alabama signee and defensive line prospect, Josh Chapman, Hoover Coach Rush Propst spoke about his abilities, practice habits and physical characteristics. Propst said, "Josh Chapman is a defensive lineman who may be one of the best kids that I've ever coached. He has great character and is grounded in what he wants to do and what he believes. Chapman could be a kid at Alabama that the defense will lean on as a leader down the road.
"He has not always been a great practice player. His sophomore year he was unbelievable. His junior year he had a bad year. This year he had another stellar year.
"He lost his dad who died of a heart attack when Josh was young. His mother and his uncles give him great support. I love Josh Chapman. I think he's got a great upside from a character stand point and one day maybe he can be a leader for Alabama and a great football player.
"He'll play the shade or the nose. He has great hands. They are big, thick and strong."
Patrick Crump, an offensive lineman and grayshirt signee, is an interesting prospect because of his age and potential as expressed by Propst, Propst said, "Patrick Crump is a young kid. He just turned 17 in August. His upside is phenomenal and he's very athletic. He should have been a junior in high school this year. He's a great kid with a tremendous work ethic. He loves to practice and knows how to practice which will make him a good football player."
The Parade All-America defensive lineman, Kerry Murphy, received glowing accolades from Propst for his on-the-field ability. Propst said, "Kerry Murphy is probably the best defensive lineman I've ever seen. He's a 6-5, 325-pound kid who can do a round off back hand spring. He can do nine back flips in a row. That's amazing. Looks like a gymnast. He has tremendous talent. He struggles with his grades. One day in practice he's great and the next day he's not. He will have to mature from that perspective. He's the most talented but he's got the furthest to go to make it."
Propst described the attributes of the three players that distinguish them as football players by saying, "Chapman brings maturity and work ethic. Crump brings hustle and desire. Murphy brings talent."
When asked to compare the three high school athletes to other players, one former defensive end familiar to Alabama fans who played for Propst at Alma Bryant was mentioned. "Kerry Murphy is a kid on the inside that could be like Antwan Odom (former UA player) was on the outside. When I coached Antwan Odom at Alma Bryant, he was an outside presence. Kerry Murphy could be that inside presence. Chapman is a DeMarco McNeil (former Auburn player) type inside guy. He's a shorter, stocky and strong player who will anchor the ‘A' gap. Crump is just an athlete playing the offensive line. He hit 13 or 14 home runs last year. He's just not your normal offensive lineman. He'll probably be an athletic guard playing inside unless he has a growth spurt to at least a minimum of 6-4, which would allow him to play on the edge."
Propst has a reputation as a tireless worker and he recognizes that quality in the newly appointed head football coach of Alabama, Nick Saban. Propst said, "He's the most relentless person I've seen. He is a workaholic. When he was at LSU, he was on my practice field in the spring twice. He was on our practice field more as the Head Football Coach of LSU recruiting than the two coaches in the state at the time (Alabama and Auburn). To me that shows how relentless he is in his recruiting efforts and how he wants it done.
"He's demanding and tough on his coaches but the mark for me of a head football coach is when you work for him you may not like him but when you leave him, you respect him and you talk good about him. You may not say a lot of good things when you work for him but it's sort of like players. The player may not like that assistant coach when he plays for him but when he comes back, he likes him because he pushed him to the limit. I think Nick Saban pushes people to the limit. He pushes his players, his coaches, his secretaries and his trainers. He doesn't tolerate nor does he accept mediocracy or less than utmost effort. I don't have anything to say but great things about Nick Saban."
John Parker Wilson, the former Hoover quarterback received high marks from his former coach when asked about his performance the past year. Propst said,"His performance was better than I thought it would be. He's outstanding and a great player. The only thing I'm disappointed in was that I wish he had been a red shirt freshman this year. The plan was to gray shirt him in 2004, red shirt him in 2005 and play him in 2006. When Pennington quit, he became the backup. If Spencer (Pennington) had not given up or if (Marc) Guillon had matured under Brodie (Croyle), then John Parker Wilson could have sat out a year. He would have probably been collectively the best quarterback to ever play at Alabama because he would have had four solid years to play. He's still going to be pretty good because he has three years to play but could you have imagined him with four?
"I still think that 2008 will be his finest year because of the transition. I think the world of Major Applewhite and Joe Pendry. Major Applewhite will be very good for John Parker Wilson. Over the next two years, John Parker will win a lot of football games."
Editor's Note: Arnold P. Steadham covers events, primarily in the Northeast, related to Alabama athletics, notably former Crimson Tide players now in professional sports.