Croyle#039;s injuries become his punchline

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 30, 2005

HOOVER - University of Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle has grown so accustomed to being asked about his health, he's been known to joke about it a time or two.

Croyle said that he was asked up to 75 times a day by anyone walking by on campus from students to media.

"I would tell them I was done," Croyle told the members of the media gathered around his table during the third and final day of SEC Media Days. "They actually didn't fix my ACL; it all depends on who was asking. But then I would usually tell them I was kidding - depending on who was asking."

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The number of questions about Croyle's health was a key topic on Friday when Alabama headlined the final day of media days.

But Croyle isn't the only player that head coach Mike Shula will have keep an eye out for when fall practice opens. Croyle is one of "the big three," but eyes will also be on running back Kenneth Darby and fullback Tim Castille. They too went down to knee injuries.

Shula said that the three players may not see as much repetitions in practice as they have in the past.

"We have got to make sure we monitor him," said Shula, who enters his third season as the Crimson Tide's head coach. "Š The type of cuts that are unrehearsed are different from what they are doing during rehab."

Croyle continued to shrug off his rash of back luck,

as far as his health is concerned, with another joke.

"I guess I was genetically blessed with bad knees, because it has happened to me two years in a row," he said.

But Shula knows that as long as Croyle is able to stay healthy, then the Tide could have a successful season.

"We all hope that Brodie stays healthy because I think he's a guy that can do some great things for us this year," Shula said. "As far as his ability, he has got tremendous arm strength, he has got very good touch, probably the best thing about him is his mentality - his personality for the position."

Of course Shula wants to see Croyle succeed. As long as Croyle succeeds, then the Crimson Tide succeeds and keeps Shula off the hot seat.

"When I took this job my name was on the hot seat from Day 1," Shula said. "So I don't worry about it. If I do, then I'm not worrying about what I need to be concentrating on and that's helping this football team improve."

And improvement from a 6-6 season is certainly what Tide fans are calling for.

The Crimson Tide has the ingredients with the return of a healthy backfield, but the big question will be whether a young offensive line can jell to march the offense down the field.

Senior center JB Closner will anchor an inexperienced line.

Chris Capps and Cody Davis are competing for the left tackle spot, while Antoine Caldwell will secure the left guard slot. Mark Sanders, Justin Moon and B.J. Stabler are all competing for the right guard spot, while Kyle Tatum returns to right tackle.

"This time last year, he never played offensive tackle other than in spring practice," Shula said. "Now, he's got a year under his belt and did a nice job for us. We expect better things from him this year."

The offensive line already has taken the initiative to improve by working with Croyle during voluntary pass skeletons in the summer. Croyle said that the line has already been tested by seeing different blitz packages thrown their way.