Prothro's future in limbo

He made the greatest catch of the year – maybe the greatest catch EVER – last season against Southern Mississippi. He averaged 19.1 yards per reception. He scored a touchdown every 3.7 catches. He averaged a whopping 27.6 yards per kickoff return.

Everything about Alabama's Tyrone Prothro was spectacular in 2005, from the acrobatic catch vs. Southern Miss that won an ESPY to the awful tumble vs. Florida that broke his leg and ended his season. How valuable was he? Consider this: Alabama averaged 29.6 points in the five games Prothro played; it averaged 16.4 in the games he missed.

After missing the final seven games of 2005, the electrifying 5-8, 175-pounder may miss all of 2006, as well. His recovery from the horrific injury has been slow. When asked about Prothro's progress at the recent SEC Media Days, Mike Shula offered little insight.

"Obviously, it was a serious injury, very serious," Bama's head coach said. "Does he have a ways to go? Yeah, he's still got a ways to go…. It's an injury that's going to take awhile to heal. Everybody that's had an injury like this responds differently."

Shula paused briefly, then offered two more sentences, neither of which shed any real light on the subject:

"For us to say he's going to be ready next week wouldn't make any sense. For us to say right now he won't be ready until next year (2007) … that doesn't make any sense, either."

Perhaps realizing that his comments sounded like pure coach-speak, Shula added a final thought:

"It's not that we're trying to hide or keep anything out. Everything is going well. He's improving every day; that's the thing that I keep seeing, I keep hearing, that makes me feel good about him being back.

"When he's going to be back … we don't know."

Prothro has a redshirt year available, so he could play in 2007 if he must sit out 2006. Teammate Ramzee Robinson thinks there's reason for optimism.

"I think he will play again," Bama's star cornerback said. "I'm glad his spirits are high. He understands what it will take to get back. His faith has propelled him thus far. We don't want to rush him."

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