RB Kenneth Darby

2005 Statistics

Coach: Mike Shula
20-17, 3 years
2005 Record: 10-2
at South Carolina WON 37-14
at Mississippi WON 13-10
at Mississippi State WON 17-0
at Auburn LOST 18-28
vs. Texas Tech WON 13-10

2005 Final Rankings
AP-8, Coaches-8, BCS-13

2006 Outlook

Many thought Alabama would fold up the tent last year in the Cotton Bowl against Texas Tech because of the disappointment that came with losing its two final regular season games, including the heartbreaking loss to archrival Auburn, which ended the Tide’s Rose Bowl hopes. However, the Tide showed their character and made the game theirs. Coach Mike Shula has to like what he has coming back, especially on the offensive side of the ball even if he does lose his prized quarterback. Darby should contend for the SEC rushing title and will be glad he made the decision to stay in school when he will likely be a first-round pick next year barring injury. The biggest question for Alabama has been its rock over the past few years – its defense. The offense will have to make more plays than it did last year to take some pressure off. But it won’t take long for DC Joe Kines to again have a feared group that rules even the best SEC foes.

The 2006 schedule is not too appetizing for the Tide faithful, with games against Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU and Florida all on the road. That’s a road schedule that will result in at least two losses, and that’s a best-case scenario. The early tilts should ease the back seven into the right gear and allow their new QB time to learn from benign mistakes, and from there it will look like the Tide we all know. Like many years, all they have to do is beat Auburn and any miscues can be forgiven…and since that game is at Bryant-Denny, things can end up good in Tuscaloosa. Shula has done more with less, so we expect another strong showing from his bunch.

Projected 2006 record: 9-3
QB - 2.5 DL - 4
RB - 4.5 LB - 3.5
WR - 4 DB - 3.5
OL - 3.5 ..
Passing: John Parker Wilson, 11-7-0, 98 yds., 2 TD

Rushing: Kenneth Darby, 239 att., 1242 yds., 3 TD

: DJ Hall, 48 rec., 676 yds., 5 TD

Scoring: Jamie Christensen, 16-25 FG, 25-26 PAT, 73 pts.


Kicking: Jamie Christensen, 16-25 FG, 25-26 PAT, 73 pts.

Tackles: Juwan Simpson, 64 tot., 35 solo

Sacks: Bobby Greenwood, 3 sacks

Interceptions: Ramzee Robinson, Simeon Castille, Juwan Simpson - 2 each

Kickoff Returns: Tyrone Prothro, 7 ret., 27.6 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Tyrone Prothro, 11 ret., 7.4 avg., 0 TD


LB Juwan Simpson
OFFENSE: Brodie Croyle-QB, J.B. Closner-C
DEFENSE: Rudy Griffin-DT, Mark Anderson-DE, DeMeco Ryans-SLB, Freddie Roach-MLB, Anthony Madison-CB, Charlie Peprah-SS, Roman Harper-FS, Jeremy Schatz-P

The main offseason task for the Tide is finding an adequate replacement for Alabama’s all-time leading passer (Croyle). There are a handful of possible replacements led by sophomore John Parker Wilson, who served as backup last season. The Hoover (H.S.) product set state records, so we know he can do it. Wilson will also get a push from two true freshmen in Jimmy Barnes and Greg McElroy, the former signal caller for two-time defending high school Mythical National Champions Southlake Carroll (Texas). Alabama’s offensive style lends well to an inexperienced quarterback and Wilson will have plenty of help with two experienced running backs in his backfield. Senior Marc Guillon was iffy when inserted in place of Croyle, but he can bring experience and stability. If last year’s schedule says anything, it’s that Wilson won’t have to win games, he just can’t lose them.

While the Tide are a smash-mouth football team who’d rather run the ball 50 times a game than throw it 50 times, Alabama does have an experienced group of receivers returning which stepped up last year after the season-ending injury to Tyrone Prothro. DJ Hall stepped in for Prothro and went on to lead the team in receiving yards and touchdowns and Keith Brown will look to build off the best game of his career in the Cotton Bowl. Mike McCoy and Nikita Stover enter this fall as four-star prospects with speed and size.

Running Back
The entire city of Tuscaloosa breathed a collective sigh of relief when word came out that senior running back Kenneth Darby announced he would return for his senior season instead of leaving early for the NFL Draft. Darby is a workhorse of a back, and was second in the SEC last year with 1,242 yards and a 105.5 average per game. Alabama will look for him to increase his touchdown total (three last year) to relieve some of the pressure on Wilson in the defensive-minded SEC. Mike Ford will finally get into the Crimson Tide uniform, and his ability will make Darby produce, though he will see time with so much ability. Blocking for Darby will be a beast in the backfield in the form of Le’Ron McClain. McClain isn’t much of a threat to run but the 256-pound back is a load to handle for opposing linebackers and blitzing safeties and he’s also a threat to catch passes out of the backfield, especially near the goal line. Darby and McClain lead an experienced offensive unit that lost just two starters.

Tight End
Alabama will likely platoon tight ends this year with a formidable duo in sophomores Travis McCall and Nick Walker. While they won’t be called upon to catch passes too often, they are both capable, especially Walker. McCall has a slight advantage in the blocking game, which might be why he’s penciled in presently ahead of Walker, who started last year.

Offensive Line
When center JB Closner went down to injury last year in the ninth game of the season, the Alabama offensive line suffered, giving up 11 sacks in the Iron Bowl against Auburn. Closner is gone now, but luckily for the offensive line, the Tide have everyone back except Closner’s replacement, who struggled mightily anyway. Antoine Caldwell, who started at guard last year, will make the move to center and hope to anchor an offensive line that has returnees at every position except left guard, where sophomore Marlon Davis will take over after starting four games as a freshman at right guard. The line has a perfect mixture of bulk and athleticism and should have no problem driving the Kenneth Darby train, but will need to provide adequate protection for their inexperienced signal caller. Andre Smith is too good (No.1 guard incoming this year) not to see time, and with four other four-star guys in the past two classes, we know this area should do well.

Again, the biggest question mark in Tuscaloosa is whether Wilson can fill the shoes of the school’s all-time leading passer after a career-best season last year. But Wilson has too much pedigree not to show some brilliance – how much brilliance will go a long way toward defining 2006 for the entire team. For Alabama to duplicate this past 10-2 season, the offense will have to do just what it did last year – limit its mistakes and let the defense force turnovers and give them the ball in good situations. The only problem for Alabama is that might not be enough to win the SEC (defense hit hard by graduation). The offense might have to make a few more plays than they did last year, and that could spell trouble for Wilson, who will be facing some of the best defenses in the land. But where Croyle was streaky, we feel Wilson has the cast around him to quietly, modestly make the most of his chances until he feels comfortable. Darby brings the leadership to the backfield that will allow for such, or else he will just do it himself.


OT Kyle Tatum


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB John Parker Wilson-So (6-1, 217) Marc Guillon-Sr (6-3, 212)
FB Le'Ron McClain-Sr (6-1, 256) Tim Castille-Sr (5-11, 236)
RB Kenneth Darby-Sr (5-11, 205) Glen Coffee-So (6-1, 207)
Jimmy Johns-So (6-2, 225)
WR D.J. Hall-Jr (6-3, 190) Will Oakley-So (6-1, 188)
Nikita Stover-So (6-1, 200)
WR Keith Brown-Jr (6-3, 192) Matt Caddell-Jr (6-0, 181)
Tyrone Prothro-Sr (5-8, 178) (inj.)
TE Nick Walker-So (6-5, 245) Travis McCall-So (6-2, 250)
OT Chris Capps-Jr (6-5, 293) Mike Johnson-Fr (6-6, 290)
OG Marlon Davis-So (6-4, 315) Justin Moon-Jr (6-5, 290)
C Antoine Caldwell-So (6-3, 296) Evan Cardwell-Fr (6-3, 290)
OG B.J. Stabler-So (6-4, 295) Scott Deaton-Fr (6-5, 295)
OT Kyle Tatum-Sr (6-8, 290) Drew Davis-Fr (6-6, 290)
K Jamie Christensen-Jr (6-0, 178) Andrew Friedman-Fr (6-2, 215)



Defensive Line
Joe Kines’ defensive unit starts right here in the trenches. The left side of the line returns with Wallace Gilberry at end and Jeremy Clark manning the tackle position. The line will be particularly important this year in keeping blockers off the linebackers and secondary, who are nearly all new faces to the starting lineup. In the past, Alabama’s defensive line hasn’t been known for its playmaking, but more for its ability to create opportunities for those behind them. Replacing Anderson will be a skilled pass-rusher and 2005 Rivals.com Freshman All-American Bobby Greenwood. This unit may take a step back from its ninth-ranked run defense, but the teeth will be there to bite into opponents efforts.

WLB Juwan Simpson will be, without question, the leader of this group that is now a bit undersized compared to last year’s squad. Kines’ system allows the linebackers to roam freely and take risks, which could be trouble with the inexperienced group if they take the wrong risks. Matt Collins is an all-academic and is well-sized, so bet he learns fast if mistakes are made, and should be able to lead the corps this way through any tough times. Strongside guy Terrance Jones backed up Ryans and his efforts were impacting, so his multi-dimensional ability to stop foes shouldn’t be a problem, either. Ironically, three of the main backups here are NCAA special qualifiers who must make the grades or they won’t be on the team come August, which would be a huge hit for depth at the position.

Defensive Back
This is where Alabama’s vaunted defense, which finished No. 2 in total yards allowed and No. 1 in scoring last year, likely fall short. Looking at the depth chart will tell the story. The only remaining evidence of what was last year’s strength is Ramzee Robinson at one of the cornerback positions, who’s returning from a season-ending injury. All the pressure in the world wouldn’t amount to what will be on the shoulders of Marcus Harris and Jeffrey Dukes, who replace arguably the best safety combination in college football over the past few years. Harris and Dukes might be on a tighter leash initially, but should be allowed to roam the field however they choose if all goes well early. Ex-QB Chris Keys seems like he could be special if given a chance in back (SS). Talent influxes from this year’s newbies, so it is a matter of time until the secondary is again clicking. How long it takes will dictate Ws or Ls.

Fourth-year defensive coordinator Joe Kines has quickly turned Alabama into one of the most feared defenses in the country, year in and year out. A Broyles Award finalist, given to the nation’s top assistant, Kines lost many of his biggest weapons, but now will get a chance to prove his worth as a coach with plenty of new faces to groom into the same mold that he used to have the best defense in the nation last year. Last year’s unit single-handedly won three games, and with so many offensive players returning with a year of experience under their belts, this campaign should be a little easier here. What’s been the strength of this team for years – the secondary – has to be considered the early weakness now, but Kines has plenty of able bodies to plug into the holes. The Tide will still possess one of the top defenses in the SEC, and in turn, the country, but it likely won’t be as big of a playmaking squad as last year’s.


DB Ramzee Robinson


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Wallace Gilberry-Jr (6-3, 254) Chris Harris-Sr (6-5, 244)
DT Jeremy Clark-Sr (6-3, 305) Lorenzo Washington-Fr (6-4, 265)
DT Dominic Lee-Sr (6-2, 303) J.P. Adams-Sr (6-3, 288)
DE Bobby Greenwood-So (6-6, 245) Keith Saunders-Jr (6-3, 246)
SLB Terrence Jones-Sr (6-1, 220) Zach Schreiber-Fr (6-2, 220)
MLB Matt Collins-Jr (6-1, 241) Prince Hall-Fr (6-0, 240)
WLB Juwan Simpson-Sr (6-3, 222) Demarcus Waldrop-Jr (5-11, 190)
CB Ramzee Robinson-Sr (5-10, 190) Chris Rogers-Fr (6-1, 178)
CB Eric Gray-Jr (5-11, 186) Simeon Castille-Jr (6-1, 188)
SS Marcus Carter-Jr (6-1, 190) Rashad Johnson-So (5-11, 178)
FS Jeffrey Dukes-Jr (6-1, 193) Sam Burnthall-Fr (6-2, 290)
P P.J. Fitzgerald-Fr (6-0, 190) ..




Jamie Christensen three-game winning field goals, including the Tide’s Cotton Bowl win over Texas Tech as time expired. The junior kicker has proven he has ice water running through his veins and doesn’t seem to be fazed by anything, but his 4-for-8 status from outside the 40 cannot bode well. Coverage in this area will continue to be strong with so many young faces from the back seven needing to prove themselves.

P.J. Fitzgerald comes in after sitting out a year due to special qualifier status. The freshman has a strong leg and has proven to produce some quality hang time and shown a propensity for downing punts inside the 20-yard line. Net results will continue to be strong, too.

Return Game
D.J. Hall seems to be the best suited to return both kicks and punts with his blazing speed and he did both in limited roles last season. However, his status as a sure starter at receiver may caution coaches from plugging him in both situations. He’ll likely return kickoffs and the coaching staff will have to pick from a stable of guys to return punts, preferably not a starter on offense or defense, possibly Castille. We will let you know as this develops.