Monday, March 10, 2008

Former Alabama LT Kyle Tatum


What are you up to?

After my senior year I signed as a free agent with Baltimore was cut from there. I took the whole year off. I'm looking to get back into it. I signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. I'm going to go there and be their starting Left Tackle this season. I'm pretty pumped about that. They offered me a good 2 year deal. I can option out after my second year. I'm going to try to get back to the NFL. That;s my goal. I'm working in Birmingham and training at night. They have a minicamp in March in Orlando I can't wait to get down there so they get a good look at me.

I've heard of some players playing up there in the CFL and then going on the have success in the NFL.

Yeah, it's a good opportunity. Calgary puts a lot of players in the NFL. I'm playing for Doug Flutie's offensive coordinator in Saskatchewan. I'm in a good situation. I got Juwan Simpson and Todd Bates coming with me up there.

So you're taking the Crimson Tide up north?

Yes, our defensive coordinator was a graduate assistant at Alabama and he did a little hunting down south. Speed kills you know?

Why did you decide to come to Alabama?

When I was 14 years old I really never was a fan growing up, my brother played football at UT-Chattanooga with Terrell Owens. I was a fan of my big brother he played Offensive Guard up there and played for 2 years. I loved watching him play. It really wasn't Auburn or Alabama. I just wanted to be like him. He actually started against Alabama in 1995 or 1996. He was so amazed when he stepped onto Legion Field he became an Alabama fan and took me to some games. Ronnie Cottrell started recruting me when I was in 8th grade. I just fell in love. I was there for a visit when I was in 8th grade. Before the game they called me onto the field. I walked to the 50 yard line and talked to Coach Dubose. When someone does that to you when your 15 years old you can't help but fall in love on the spot.

When Coach Fran came in there he offered Roman Harper. He and I played at Prattville together. When I came there to watch Roman my junior year they offered me right then because I was having a great year. I committed in June going into my Senior year of high school. They came out with all the sanctions and allegations but I couldn't back out. Guys like Ken Darby, Chris Harris, and Juwan we stuck with the program because we fell in love with the program. It's an Icon. Growing up in the state you can either be #1 or #2. Coming from Prattville High School with such a prestigious program they drilled the "refuse to lose mentality" into you. That's the attitude I saw with Coach Fran. Even though we had a lot of up and down years with Shula I wouldn't change it for the world. Just to be able to put on that Crimson there's really no way to compare it to anything else.

What are you most proud of from your time at Alabama?

I think just being able to play where so many legends and so many respect Icons played. I got to play and be part of the tradition there. For me to be even a small part of Alabama history is something you can't put it into any kind of measurement.

What did you think about Alabama's decision to schedule Hawaii as the last game since we couldn't got to a bowl?

It was rewarding to the players. The coaches wanted to find a way for us to be rewarded for our hard work. They knew we didn't deserve for us not to go to a bowl game because no of us were a part of all that stuff. They came up with a way to reward us. It was really special for all the Seniors to go out like that. It's somwhere I never would've been if it wasn't for Alabama or football. We got to go two years it was fun.

Who was the toughest defensive lineman you ever went up against?

I'd say the best all around would probably be Marcus Spears. My sophmore year down in Baton Rouge he was a beast. He was an elecrtifying player. I actually held my own. I only gave up half of a sack against him. It was a great challenge. He was my size playing Defensive End.

You witnessed Prothro's amazing catch against Southern Miss. What did you think when you saw that on replay?

It was unbelievable. It didn't look like he caught it. I thought "Did he really catch that?" He caught it off that guys last name. It was a blind catch. Anytime you use your sense of touch like that it's unbelievable. Especially when it's coming over your shoulder. It was the greatest catch I've ever seen and probably the greatest catch I'll ever see.

I hate he got hurt. I wish he could've gone to the NFL.

Oh I know, it really is a sad story. It's the risk you take when you play the game.

Your junior year Florida rolled into Tuscaloosa ranked in the Top 5. We destroyed them 31-3. That has to be something that you look back on fondly.

Oh yeah, it was a great game. I remember Urban Meyer was talking smack. Jeremy Mincey, the guy I was going against exact quote in the paper was "It's not whether we win the game, it's whether it's a blowout or not." We saw it all week. We could have beat anyone in the country on that day. There's no doubt in my mind we would've beat USC by two touchdowns. We were so pumped up especiall on defense. Everything clicked on all cylinders. I don't think Mincey had much to say after the game.

A few weeks later was the UT game. The game was so close and right when Tennessee was about to score their running back fumbled the ball through the back of the end zone and we got the ball on the 20. What were you thinking as you watched that unfold.

It was the time of the game where 95% of the time they are going to score, it was looking bad but Roman Harper put a perfect hit on the Fullback. He put his helmet right on the ball. It just popped out. You've got to give that to him and his instincts as a player. It just shows how important of a player he was that year. It turned our season around.

It was a rollercoaster ride year. If a lot of things go differently we play in a BCS game that year. That year had a lot with senior leadership and a lot of want to.

What do you remember about the overtime game against LSU that year? JeMarcus came through in the end for LSU but coming out of halftime I thought we were going to win.

It was one of those games where anybody could have won. They were putting a lot of pressure up the middle. J.B. Closner was a big loss for us. It really hurt us up front. It was probably my best game of the year. It was one fo those game that was heartbreaking. We had a lot of mistakes. Whoever made the most mistakes was going to lose.

JeMarcus Russell has a history of late game heroics

He really does. He's a heck of a ball player. He was the #1 pick and he deserved it. We will see what he does at the nest level. He had a great career.

What about the Vandy game your senior year. What do you remember about that last second game winning field goal by Tiffin?

It was a heack of a game. We played really sloppy and had to depend on the kicker in the end.

A month later was the win against Ole Miss in overtime. What do you remember about that afternoon. I really thought Ole Miss was going to pull it out.

That was probably one of the best games of the year. It was just one of those games where we wanted it more than they did. It took overtime to get it done.

What do you remember about the UT game your senior year? That was another one I thought we had but UT scored 10 in the 4th quarter to steal it.

That was a very disappointing game. It was a point in the season where nothing was going right. A lot of it was personnel problems in my opinion. I don't think the right mix was out there. They just pulled away. A sack here or a sack there in the fourth quarter it wasn't a good sight.

I can only imagine how bad you wanted to finally beat Auburn on Senior Day at home. We had a chance late but John Parker Wilson got picked off by David Irons with a minute left and that was it. How disappointing was it to never beat Auburn?

If anything in this world will haunt me the rest of my life that'll be it. I came to Alabama to beat Auburn everytime I stepped on the field. Everytime I traded paint with the other school I layed it out on the line. I would've given everything. Every year we were I it. I hate for it to happen that way. When you give up two sack fumbles early in the game in our territory it's automatic points for the other team. It was disappointing. I feel the way my senior year went there were a lot of time I didn't have any control over anything. I wish I would've been in there to make a difference. Once I got in after all those mistakes after all those mistakes I locked down Quentin Groves. I gave everything in that game. It sucks. You give everything you got but the results just don't show it.

In your final game in the Independence Bowl what were you thinking as you watched Oklahoma State's kicker line up for the field goal to win the game?

I was thinking "What a terrible way to go out." With the way that season went it helped me more than anything. It taught me alot about adversity. I just had to fight through everything. I got demoted my senior year. I didn't start one game. I took about as big a beating as one could. I was a guy who wanted to make a difference for the University of Alabama. I think that going out like that made me stronger. I'm ready to get back on the field and be part of a team and hopefully use it as a stepping stone to get to the NFL, that's my dream. I'm blessed and I'm going to get there.

Do you think Mike Shula should still be our coach?

There's no way I could look at that situation and see that he could still be our head coach still. He was a guy who kept our program stable. He was the best candidate at the time when Dennis Francione left. He left the program a little better than he got it I think. But there's no way he should still be the head coach. He wasn't qualified. I hate to say that about my head coach but it's the truth. I didn't come to play at Alabama to play for him. I came to play for Dennis Francione. It's like poker, you play with hand your dealt. We all rallied behind him and pushed him the way any player would. We tried to make it work but it wasn't the right mix.

I know a lot about Coach Saban. LSU was my second choice coming out of high school. He recruited me pretty hard. I really like him and I think he's the guy who will get Alabama back to the promise land. He's a winner. He doesn't take no for an answer and he's all about winning. Everybody needs to be patient and leave him alone with the media and this and that. He's going to get it done. The last thing he told me when I saw him when was rehabing from shoulder surgery he told me "Once I get some players in here, I'm going to get it done". He had the #1 recruiting class and he's going to continue to recruit players hard. They'll be blowing folks out before you know it.

Is there anything else you'd like to say to your fans out there?

Just Roll Tide! Alabama for life! Bleed Crimson one time and you always will. It's the greatest place on earth.


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