Prothro, who broke his leg in October 2005, will be a senior in 2007. He qualifies for a sixth year of eligibility under the NCAA's sixth-year playing limitation rules, but if he does intend to sit out in 2007 and play his senior year in 2008, he would have to apply and be approved for a sixth year, however.
"When that occurs we will let you know," Saban said regarding the upcoming surgery. "It's a pretty complicated issue medically."
That nugget was a part of Saban's pre-spring press conference Thursday. Saban said Thursday that Prothro and receiver Aaron McDaniel will be completely out for the spring due to injuries, and several players will be limited, including: quarterback Jimmy Barnes (knee), running back Jimmy Johns (hand/wrist), receiver Will Oakley (shoulder), offensive tackle Chris Capps (shoulder) and Lorenzo Washington.
Ezekial Knight, who was held out last season because of a mysterious head injury, will continue to be evaluated to determine if it is safe for him to continue playing football, Saban said.
Saban said all other players had been participating fully in strength and conditioning workout that have been ongoing for the last five weeks. Running backs Glen Coffee (knee), Roy Upchurch (foot) and Terry Grant (shoulder) should be cleared to practice full speed beginning Saturday.
In evaluating the off-season program Saban said, "I can't tell you one guy who didn't make some improvement. We had a lot of room for improvement in that area."
But he also declined to identify any players who made particularly impressive gains, saying "When we have a bunch where we don't have any sheep left around here, where nobody needs a dog to show him where to go we'll be better off."
It appears outsiders will have to remain in wait-and-see mode regarding the type of offense Alabama will run. Saban said his goal is to have a system that is interchangeable based on the strengths of the personnel, without offering his opinions on what those strengths might be.
Alabama will begin its spring training Saturday afternoon. The NCAA allows 15 practices including three scrimmages during the spring. Alabama's A-Day game is scheduled for April 21.