Croyle pushing Watts at Bama

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 6, 2002

For the first time in his collegiate career, Pelham native Tyler Watts doesn’t have someone breathing down his neck.

Alabama head football coach Dennis Franchione said that might not remain the case &045; at least not for long.

&uot;Tyler is a team strength for us right now,&uot; Franchione said. &uot;He’s a

tough, hard-nosed, gritty competitor, but Brodie Croyle is on the fast-track to push Tyler. Brodie really had a great spring game. If he has 29 good practices this fall, he could be right there.&uot;

Even Watts has to admit that Croyle is a special player and is the future of the UA football team.

&uot;He’s incredibly talented and incredibly skilled,&uot; Watts said. &uot;He’s really learned how to slow down and play smart. He came in slinging the football around the field. Now, he has settled down and learned how to play football.

‘He’s special.&uot;

Watts said Croyle is going through many of the same things he went through only a few years ago.

He said the freshman must concentrate on getting better every day and avoid listening to all the hype which tends to surround the Crimson Tide’s quarterback job.

&uot;I think I listened to the hype too much,&uot; Watts said. &uot;I kind of got caught up in it. That hurt me in the long run.&uot;

Now, the question for Watts is what must he do to make certain he can keep the starting job at Alabama.

He spent so much time battling Andrew Zow for the starting nod during the past two seasons, Watts said it’s gratifying to know he’s at the top with no one to split time with &045; at least for now.

While to some it might not be clear, Watts said he is fully aware of his position and what his team needs him to do.

&uot;It doesn’t feel odd to be the No. 1 guy,&uot; Watts explained. &uot;It’s a different feeling, not really odd, knowing that this is my job for the moment. I just have to make certain that I continue to get better. I have to stay ambitious and work hard.&uot;

Whether that is enough to keep the highly-touted Croyle from under center remains to be seen.

The amount of playing time the young quarterback will receive in the fall, according to Franchione, will depend on how well he practices.

&uot;It is important for him to have a good fall,&uot; the coach said. &uot;He is definitely a rising star, and what he does now will dictate how much we are able to put him on the field when the season begins.&uot;