July 14, 2007

Catching up with the 2003 signing class

With only redshirt seniors still around to make an impact, Alabama's 2003 football signing class has just about made its final mark on the program. It's a class that learned a new definition of turmoil when it was recruited by one coach, signed by another and coached by a third. After Mike Price himself on the fired end of a press conference before the 20 newcomers had a chance to play even one a game for him, the name plate on the head coach's office had changed from Price to Shula. Expectations for the program, on the other hand, aren't on a name plate.
They're in stone.
Some four years later, the name plate has changed yet again, and the 2003 signing class experienced seasons of as few as four wins and as many as 10. Unfortunately for Crimson Tide fans, a probation-hampered class that needed to be full of hits and few misses turned out to be much the opposite. Nine of the signees - nearly half the class - saw little to no action in their college careers.
A player-by-player glance at the 2003 class:

Matt Caddell
Wide receiver
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Four-star prospect. … Rated the No.19 wide receiver in the nation and the No.8 overall player in Alabama. … Chose UA over offers from Georgia, South Carolina and Auburn.
UA career: Caddell has made 43 career receptions in three seasons for the Crimson Tide. For his size, Caddell has remained remarkably durable and has yet to miss a game in his career due to injury. His best season to date remains his freshman year when he set career highs in catches (17), yards (331) and average per catch (19.5). Has one year of eligibility remaining.

Chris Capps
Offensive line
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Two-star prospect. … Unrated nationally or in his home state of Georgia. … First committed to Oklahoma State before a change of mind.
UA career: For a player whose performance has been maligned, Capps has been as good or better than any right tackle on campus for the better part of his career. Critics would suggest that speaks more to Alabama's depth, but he nevertheless enters 2007 with a streak of 24 consecutive starts. Credited with 40 knockdown blocks last season. Has one year of eligibility remaining.



Tim Castille
Running back
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Four-star prospect. … Rated as the No.85 overall prospect in the nation and the No.4 player in Alabama. … Also offered by Georgia Tech and Tennessee.
UA career: A starter since his true freshman season, Castille had 214 career touches, including 59 receptions, and played in 43 career games. After a knee injury his sophomore year, his role shifted to more goal line duty as he scored 12 rushing touchdowns over his last two seasons.

D.J. Chambers
Athlete
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Three-star prospect. … Unranked nationally but rated the No.26 player in Alabama. … Committed to Alabama before other schools had a chance to offer. Drew post-commitment interest from LSU, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, South Carolina.
UA career: Never played. Chambers qualified academically but left the team early in his freshman year and did not return.

Cliff Davis
Quarterback
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Three-star prospect. … Rated 44th among the nation's pro-style quarterbacks and the No.25 overall player in Mississippi. … Chose Alabama over Mississippi State and Southern Miss.
UA career: Never played. Davis opted for a pro baseball career rather than playing at Alabama and signed with the Houston Astros. After a short career in pro baseball, he walked-on at Ole Miss.

Chris Felder
Defensive back
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Four-star prospect. … Felder was the 13-ranked cornerback in the nation and the No.9 overall player from Alabama. … Alabama was Felder's first offer.
UA career: Never played. Felder failed to meet academic standards and never enrolled at Alabama. After two years at Butler (Kan.) Community College, Felder signed with UAB.

Wallace Gilberry
Defensive end
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Three-star prospect. … Unranked nationally or statewide. … Gilberry was offered late by Alabama.
UA career: Gilberry sneaked up on the SEC as an anonymous redshirt freshman in 2004 and posted 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Once he had the league's attention however, Gilberry struggled to match those numbers in the two years since. Now with 11 career sacks, the rising senior looks to rediscover his freshman-year magic in his final campaign.




Eric Gray
Defensive back
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Three-star prospect. … Rated the nation's No. 40 cornerback and the state's No. 20 overall prospect. … Chose Alabama over Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas.
UA career: After two years with miminal action, Gray played 310 snaps in 12 games as a junior in 2006. He made his first career start against LSU and was named Special Teams Player of the Week following the Duke game. With one year of eligibility remaining, Gray has yet to record his first interception.

Terrance Jones
Linebacker
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Three-star prospect. … Rated the nation's No. 29 outside linebacker and the No. 25 overall prospect in Alabama. … Also offered by Auburn, Louisville, Southern Miss and West Virginia.
UA career: An impressive athlete who had to wait a lengthy turn behind standout linebackers such as Demeco Ryans and Freddie Roach, Jones finally got his chance as a regular starter in 2006. He responded with 57 tackles, which ranked fifth on the team, with one sack.

Dominic Lee
Defensive tackle
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Three-star prospect. … Rated the nation's No.24 defensive tackle and the No.10 overall prospect in Alabama. … Also offered by LSU, Florida, Auburn and Ole Miss.
UA career: With injuries slowing him down early his career, the breakout season never arrived for Lee. He made 13 tackles as a senior, matching a career high, and the 1.5 sacks he made as a true freshman in 2003 turned out to be the last of his career.

Le'Ron McClain
Fullback
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Four-star prospect. … Rated the nation's No.2 fullback and the No.5 overall prospect in Alabama. ... Chose Alabama over Mississippi State.
UA career: McClain was among the top fullbacks in the Southeastern Conference for three years and eventually became the most valuable player in his graduating class. His 5.8 rushing average was best among all Alabama backs with 10 carries or more in 2006, and he was fourth on the team with 20 receptions. Also an outstanding blocker. … Drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in April.

Justin Moon
Offensive line
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Three-star prospect. … Ranked the nation's No.23 offensive tackle and the No.12 overall prospect in Alabama. … Alabama was Moon's first offer.
UA career: Moon spent four years in the program but was unable to earn significant playing time. Injury problems forced Moon to end his Alabama career a year early.

Ernest Nance
Linebacker
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Three-star prospect. … Unranked both nationally and in the state of Alabama. … Chose Alabama over Memphis.
UA career: Nance's career never really got off the ground as he was plagued by knee trouble. He was later suspended from the team and never returned.

Eric Packer
Defensive back
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Three-star prospect. … Ranked the nation's No.12 all-purpose running back and the No.29 overall prospect in Alabama. … Alabama was Packer's first offer.
UA career: Never played. Packer failed to qualify academically.

Tyrone Prothro
Wide receiver
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Three-star prospect. … Ranked No.29 nationally at the 'athlete' position and the No.22 overall prospect in Alabama. … Chose Alabama over Auburn and Georgia.
UA career: One of the beloved fan favorites of the last decade, Prothro's career was on a record track until a broken leg placed his football career in limbo. He led the team in catches (25) in 2004. He amassed 691 all-purpose yards in five games in 2005 before the injury, when his most memorable game also became his most forgettable one. He caught two touchdown passes in an upset of Florida, including an 87-yarder to open the game, only to suffer a fourth-quarter injury that has kept him off the field for the better part of two years.

William Roach
Defensive back
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Three-star prospect. … Rated the No.21 safety in the nation and the No.13 overall prospect in Alabama. … Also offered by Tennessee and South Carolina.
UA career: Roach spent two uneventful seasons at the Capstone, redshirting his first year and spending much of the second recovering from a shoulder injury before leaving the program. Roach has resurfaced at Division II West Alabama.

Keith Saunders
Defensive end
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Two-star prospect. … Unranked out of Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy. … Alabama was Saunders' first offer and did not sign until more than two weeks after national signing day.
UA career: Saunders has yet to turn in a breakout season but has made steady improvements since arriving on campus in 2003. He redshirted his first year, made his first career tackle two years later as a third-year sophomore and pitched in 16 stops last year. Has one year of eligibility remaining.

DeMarcus Waldrop
Defensive back
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Two-star prospect. … Unranked nationally or in his home state of Alabama. … Alabama was Waldrop's first offer.
UA career: Initially signed as a safety, Waldrop's toughness helped him make a quick move to linebacker. Has had trouble cracking the starting lineup but his quickness earned praise from former defensive coordinator Joe Kines. Hasn't missed a game since his freshman season and pitched in 21 tackles last year as a junior. Has one year of eligibility remaining.

Travis West
Offensive line
Rivals.com Signing Day credentials: Two-star prospect. … Unranked nationally but ranked the No.30 overall prospect in Mississippi. … Chose Alabama over Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss and West Virginia.
UA career: Never played. West spent a couple of injury-plagued seasons in the UA program before leaving the team.

Eric Johnson
Defensive back
Rivals.com Signing Day Credentials: Unranked.
UA career: Never played. One of two signees in the class that were late pick-ups by incoming coach Mike Shula, Johnson left school after his first year.

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The Class of 2003
Total signees:
20
Best player:
WR Tyrone Prothro
First to start:
FB Tim Castille
Top NFL prospect:
FB Le'Ron McClain
Strongest Position:
Fullback
Weakest Position:
Offensive line
Number of non-qualifiers:
Two
Permanent captain:
McClain