Fran likes Croyle

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 6, 2002

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

Wait a minute, according Alabama Head Football Coach Dennis Franchione, that first statement might not be the case.

"Tyler is a team strength for us right now," Franchione said. "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."

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Where "there" is remains to be determined. However, even Watts has to admit Croyle is a special player and the future of UA football.

"He’s incredibly talented and incredibly skilled," Watts said. "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."

Watts said Croyle is going through many of the same things Watts went through only a few years ago. Watts said the freshman must concentrate on getting better everyday and avoid listening to the hype surrounding Crimson Tide quarterbacks.

Now, the question for Watts is what must he do to make certain he can keep the starting job at Alabama. Watts said he is fully aware of what position he is in and what his team needs him to do.

"It doesn’t feel odd to be the No. 1 guy," Watts explained. "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 working hard."