After suffering his own personal Tornado, Tyrone Prothro teams with Subway to help Tuscaloosa

If you want to know what college football is all about.  If you want to feel the passion and understand why we love this game so much.  Just put in the name “Prothro” on and you will be amazed.  A hero in Alabama to this day, Tyrone Prothro ignited fans with “the catch” and won an ESPY award for his efforts in 2006.  At just 5’9 (the prototypical receiver is 6’3), he played the receiver position against the best defenses in the land in what has thus far been the SEC’s most dominant decade of football.  He took out defensive players with his blocking and dazzled us with his heart and determination.  His football playing career may have come to an end on October 1, 2005, when he broke both major bones in his lower leg, but Prothro’s next career incarnation has only just begun. 

Tyrone Prothro Alabama 2003-2005

Prothro joined Jared Fogle (yes, that “Subway guy”) today in presenting the money generated from SUBWAY’s charitable program “Pullin for a Cause” to the West Alabama Food bank to feed disaster victims in and around Tuscaloosa.  The College Football Girl had the pleasure of speaking to Tyrone this afternoon before the presentation. 

The CFB Girl:  How did you get involved with Subway?

Prothro:  Subway contacted me about teaming up with them to feed Alabama and give back to the community because I’m a player that everyone remembers.  We are promoting the Subway BBQ pulled pork sandwich because, of course, Alabama is famous for the barbeque here.  They actually donated $10,000 for this relief.

The CFB Girl: How are things in Alabama now that you are a few months removed from the devastating tornadoes?  [At least 62 tornadoes struck the state of Alabama this spring in their worst natural disaster in state history.  The aftermath left a total of 247 people dead and an estimated $1.5 billion in damage.]

Prothro:  Of course there are people who are still struggling.  But you get the feeling of togetherness.  Everybody’s coming together.  Things are looking up here.  You think about what happened, but you also think about the outcome.  People are coming together and helping each other rebuild their lives one day at a time.

The CFB Girl:  Do you see the tornadoes as an analogy to your life and what you went through?

Prothro:  I guess you can call it, my tornado, with me breaking my leg and ending my career.  This is the same situation for Tuscaloosa in that we had this disaster and its one of those things where we can sit back and dwell or we can step up and do something about it.  I think everyone’s taking the perspective to step up and come together and make this work to help rebuild Tuscaloosa. 

The CFB Girl:  What are your goals for the future?

Prothro:  I’m working at Region’s bank here on campus and I love my job and what I do.  Right now banking is what I decided as a career and I want to see where that can take me.  But eventually at some point I feel like I want my career to end in coaching.  Of course, I wasn’t able to move on and play football, but I would like to coach. 

The CFB Girl:  What makes a receiver great?

Prothro:  The number one thing for me is heart and determination.  No matter what your size is or your speed, you have to have the desire, the hustle and the determination to do the position.  Because if you don’t have that, your size and your speed don’t matter. You can be the most talented person in the world, but if you don’t have the heart and the desire to do it, you’re going to be nothing.  It’s kind of what I had—I always had that heart and desire and I always felt like no matter how much good I did, I always had something to prove.  Even before I got here, people didn’t think I would make it in college football because of my size.  I always had that chip on my shoulder and I always felt like I had to prove somebody wrong.

The CFB Girl:  As a former player, what are you focusing on when you watch football? 

Prothro:  When I’m watching football and even when I play video games, it’s kind of the same thing, I look for the mismatches and then see where we as a team can take advantage of those mismatches.  I look for the weaknesses of the other team, whether their weakness is the secondary or the defensive line.  Or from a defensive perspective, I look at their offensive line and the mentality of the quarterback and whether he can lead the team.  Just picking out the opportunities we can take advantage of.

The CFB Girl:  How do you identify those mismatches?

Prothro:  As a receiver, you read the coverage first.  You determine whether they are in man coverage or if they’re in cover-3 or cover-2.  And you just go from there depending on what route you have called.  Just by getting up, reading the coverages and determining what coverages they are in, you can go out and perform or adjust your route to certain coverages.  It also starts with watching film and knowing your opponent, knowing the guy who’s in front of you—who you are going against.  What is his technique? What does he do?  Knowing his every move.

The CFB Girl:  What’s the hardest part about being a receiver?

Prothro:  When you think of a wide receiver, you think of running routes and catching balls, but I guess the hardest part is blocking [read what Oregon’s head coach had to say about blocking] and I took pride in blocking. A lot of people don’t think of a receiver as a blocker, but I had that mentality that I’d go hit somebody if I had to.  I had somebody say the other day, “they don’t make them like you anymore.” Of course I loved getting the ball and I loved running routes and getting open to get the ball.  But when I wasn’t getting the ball I loved to throw a block or two.  I’ve had a couple of good blocks in my time playing.  I think some of them are on Youtube (they are).

The CFB Girl:  What is the biggest challenge for Alabama to win a championship in 2011?

Prothro:  Taking care of business and playing Alabama football. We’re known for running the ball, but its important for us to come out and be balanced and not just a one-dimensional team.  On defense, last year we were young and this year we have another year under out belt under the system and I definitely think we’ll be strong in that aspect.  Just coming in and taking care of business and being in the right place at the right time.

The CFB Girl:  With the NCAA-called summit taking place over the past two days, one of the topics is whether or not to pay student athletes.  What is your opinion on that issue?

Prothro:  I definitely would like to see a more fair deal with the imaging part of it.  When you get here you sign away the license and rights to your images.  I just feel like a fair deal is needed between universities and players with regards to the imaging after your collegiate play and think an athlete should be able to use his own likeness.  If you look at my situation, I can’t play anymore, but I have this awesome picture that I can’t even use to promote myself or things of that nature.  I would like to see something that would be a fair deal for both ends.

The CFB Girl:  Do you think it would be advantageous to have a trust fund of sorts?   

Prothro:  I would look at it from a business standpoint.  Maybe its put away for the athlete to later get a percentage of the image that sold.  Or just  put away in a fund where it could be used for an emergency or similar purposes.

The CFB Girl:  Do you believe everything happens for a reason?

Prothro:  Yeah I do believe everything happens for a reason.  I feel like maybe God has a different plan for me.  I may not play in the NFL, but maybe one of these days I’ll get to coach in the NFL.  Who knows, but we’ll see, we’ll see where he takes me to and where this road leads me.