Days Until Alabama Football: Tyrone Prothro
The Crimson Tide is four days away from their season opener in Columbia, Missouri against the Mizzou Tigers, but today, let's reminisce on a time that Alabama's dynasty seemed to be in danger.
In 2003, Coach Mike Shula was entering his first season as the leader of the Crimson Tide. Shula quickly took over after an off-field incident involving former coach Mike Price. Shula, who played quarterback for 'Bama in the 80s, looked to separate himself from his father's coaching success and establish a coaching resume of his own.
Tyrone Prothro, a wide receiver from Heflin, Alabama led the Cleburne County Tigers to a state championship game in 2001, but Prothro's team came up short. In his 2002 senior season, Prothro was recruited to Alabama as part of a smaller recruiting class that was affected by NCAA sanctions from years prior, and in 2003, he started his legendary performance in Tuscaloosa.
Prothro had an average freshman year. He recorded 16 receptions and 191 receiving yards after playing in nine games. In Shula's first year at the Capstone, Alabama faced a bowl game ban that left the team struggling. The Crimson Tide went 4-9 and 2-6 in the SEC. Included in their losses were a home loss to No.1 Oklahoma in Bryant-Denny and a loss in Honolulu to the Hawaii Warriors.
In his sophomore year, Prothro started to gain national attention. The Crimson Tide's bowl ban had ended, and the Heflin native was adamant to bring the Crimson Tide back to relevance. Prothro helped the team to a 6-6 record (3-5 in the SEC) and a trip to the Music City Bowl against Minnesota. Prothro played in 12 games and recorded 347 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown on 25 receptions. Prothro also got snaps as a rusher, rushing for 66 yards and a touchdown.
2005, Prothro's junior season, is the difference-maker; however. Prothro went crazy in his third year in Tuscaloosa. In the second game of the year, Alabama hosted Southern Miss in a game that Crimson Tide fans will never forget.
Late in the second quarter, Alabama quarterback tossed a pass 40 yards down the field where Prothro blindly caught the ball against a Southern Miss defender's helmet. Alabama fans now remember this play as "The Catch." This play went on to win the 2006 ESPY Award for "Best Play."
Unfortunately for Prothro, later in the season, the receiver would suffer a career-ending injury involving his lower leg in a game against the Florida Gators. Still, in his five games as a junior, Prothro totaled 325 receiving yards and three touchdowns, averaging 19.1 yards per reception.
While his injury against Florida ended the receiver's career, Tyrone Prothro is remembered by Crimson Tide faithful as one of the most athletic and charismatic receivers in Alabama's long history.
Recently, Prothro has gotten back into football, coaching receivers around Alabama. So with four days until the 2020 Alabama schedule kicks off, let's tip our hats to Tyrone Prothro, the best Alabama player to wear the number "4".