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Caldwell staying put


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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama center Antoine Caldwell said Monday he will return for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft.

"There's a lot of things I still want to achieve here," Caldwell said. "There's a lot of unfinished business that I've got here at the university. I'd like to win an SEC championship, and I've got individual goals that I still want to achieve."

His decision was a boost for the Crimson Tide's offensive line, where he started at three positions as a junior. Caldwell was voted a captain by his teammates despite a suspension that sidelined him for four games.

He was the only Tide junior who explored his status with the NFL after the season, according to coach Nick Saban. Caldwell said an NFL advisory committee said he would likely be selected as high as the third round.

"This has probably been one of the most difficult decisions I've had to go through since I've been here," Caldwell said. "It's a good decision to have."

Besides, he added: "I've been broke for 21 years. Ten more months probably won't hurt."

Caldwell received his degree in August after just three years, and plans to begin working on a masters toward a career in real estate. He had a trying junior season as one of five Tide players who served a four-game suspension for using their athletic scholarships to get free textbooks for others.

Saban has high expectations for Caldwell, saying he should be an All-American as a senior.

"I think he's an outstanding player," Saban said. "I think he will achieve tremendous accolades in the future here. He's a guy that should be recognized in that kind of elite caliber of player as an offensive lineman."

Saban and Caldwell both indicated they felt like he could strengthen his NFL draft status as a senior. Saban and offensive line coach Joe Pendry, both former NFL coaches, also sought feedback from NFL officials before Caldwell made his decision and visited him at his Montgomery home while he was weighing a potential move to the NFL.

"I feel relieved," said Caldwell, who was accompanied by his parents in making his announcement. "I felt like this whole process kind of equated to high school recruiting but 100 times worse. I feel comfortable with my decision."

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