In an attempt to put to rest rumors regarding the health status of star receiver Tyrone Prothro, UA team physician Dr. Les Fowler issued a written statement through the school's sports information department on Tuesday.
Here is the statement in its entirety:
"Tyrone Prothro suffered an open comminuted fracture of his left tibia and fibula during the Alabama-Florida game on Oct. 1, 2005. He underwent emergency surgery that night to stabilize the fracture.
"During the post-operative period, he developed an infection, secondary to bacterial infection at the time of his injury. He did not develop a staph infection.
"Since that time he has undergone aggressive treatment and antibiotic for the infection. To date, the attempts to eradicate the infection appear to have been successful.
"All wounds that he suffered are healing well following the procedure necessary to close those wounds.
"At Tyrone's and his mother's request, details of his hospitalization have not been released until today. Further updates will be released at their request.
"We expect Tyrone to remain hospitalized for several more days. The Sports Medicine staff at The University of Alabama is optimistic for a full recovery following this very severe injury."
On a more positive note, Prothro received words of encouragement from President George W. Bush earlier today.
"I apologize for being a little bit late," Tide coach Mike Shula said in his opening comments to the media Tuesday. "I actually went over (to DCH) and saw Tyrone and dropped off a letter from President Bush that he was pretty excited about getting. Tyrone is in good spirits.
"His dad came into the room and he told his dad that he got a letter from one of his buddies. When his dad asked who (the letter was from), Tyrone said, 'W'."
Elsewhere on the injury front, the man largely responsible for replacing Prothro in the lineup, DJ Hall, practiced Sunday night despite suffering from sore ribs. At this point, it looks as if Hall will be available for Saturday's showdown with No. 17 Tennessee at Bryant-Denny Stadium (2:30 p.m. CST/CBS).
"I think he'll probably be limited today, but hopefully tomorrow and Thursday he'll be full-speed or real close," Shula said of Hall, who went down early in the second quarter of Alabama's 13-10 win over Ole Miss last Saturday. "If he can't go, Matt Miller will play a role, and he knows a lot of positions. However, there are several other guys who could help us in certain personnel groupings like Will Oakley or Marcus McKnight or Brandon Brooks."
Miller, a fifth-year senior, converted a third-and-2 situation with a seven-yard reception on the Tide's game-winning field goal drive at Ole Miss, while Oakley and McKnight have yet to see meaningful game action at UA.
Hall was also set to take over punt return duties in the absence of Prothro, but his own injury pushed Brooks into the role in Oxford. Special teams coordinator Dave Ungerer said Hall will return punts this week against Tennessee if he's healthy and has Shula's blessings. If Hall sits out, Brooks will continue to return punts, and he would likely be joined by Matt Caddell on kickoff returns. Ungerer added that cornerback Simeon Castille will get more work on punt returns in practice this week and freshman halfback Glen Coffee will get a look on kickoff returns.
As for the status of freshman quarterback John Parker Wilson, who was arrested early Sunday morning in Northport and charged with DUI, Shula offered his standard response when dealing with disciplinary issues.
"We're going to handle his discipline like we do everybody else's: internally," Shula said. "We're not going to release publicly what his discipline will be. It will be consistent with what we do."
In the past, Shula has handed down one-game suspensions to those in similar situations to what Wilson presently finds himself in. With Wilson likely out for UT, Marc Guillon is set to move up from the No. 3 spot to top backup to starter Brodie Croyle. Guillon has two career starts under his belt (losses to Arkansas and South Carolina in 2004), but the junior has been plagued by a nagging back injury for more than a year.
"Marc's health is fine, he's practiced well and the best thing he's done is handle the coach on the sidelines week in and week out," Shula said "If his number is called we feel confident that he'll be ready to go."
Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dave Rader echoed Shula's comments.
"We went out (and practiced) a few Sundays ago and Marc threw the ball as well as he has in two years," Rader said. "He doesn't get a lot of reps, but he's done a good job of keeping up and he does well on the tests we give the quarterbacks."