The plaza at Denny Chimes, a campus landmark at The University of Alabama, is site of an annual spring ritual. The football captains from the previous season place their handprints and footprints in concrete.
Antoine Caldwell has done something that great Alabama football players such as Joe Namath, Lee Roy Jordan, Bart Starr, Kenny Stabler, John Hannah, Dwight Stephenson, et al did not.
Caldwell has taken part in the ceremony two times.
Caldwell, a 6-3, 300-pound offensive lineman who was drafted in the third round by the Houston Texans of the NFL, has the requisite football skills. He was named first team All-America by the American Football Coaches Association and by Sporting News. He was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, awarded each year to the nation's finest center.
Almost as important as his ability to block is Caldwell's leadership, as evidenced by him being a two-time captain of the Crimson Tide. As Coach Nick Saban's Bama team went through spring practice this year, Alabama linemen noted the importance of trying to find a replacement for Caldwell. Caldwell was less publicized than his teammate, left tackle Andre Smith (who won the Lombardi Award as the nation's best lineman and who was drafted sixth in the4 first round by Cincinnati). But Caldwell was considered to be more valuable than Smith by Tide players.
Caldwell is a leader by example and also a vocal leader, exhorting his teammates in practice and games.
As the center, he was also the man who made the offensive line blocking calls. Left guard Mike Johnson, an upcoming senior, said Caldwell was so smart and made the calls so quickly that it enabled Alabama's offense to run smoothly.
Although he was primarily a center at Alabama, Caldwell demonstrated versatility in being able to play at guard and tackle.
Caldwell started 48 games at Alabama and was leader of a team that was ranked number one in the nation for five weeks during his senior season. He was named the offensive player of the week in the Southeastern Conference by ESPN.com's Chris Low after Bama road wins over Georgia and Tennessee. After the Tide's win over Auburn in the final regular season game of the year, Low declared, "No center in college football has had a better season than Caldwell."
He was selected by the Alabama coaching staff for the team's leadership award and selected by his teammates as most inspiring.
Caldwell earned his degree following his junior season, but elected to return for a fourth and final year.
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