Atmore native Bama bound
By By Matthew Nascone
By now many people in the state of Alabama are either excited or nervous about the University of Alabama's hiring of Nick Saban as the replacement to Mike Shula as head football coach for the Crimson Tide.
But in Atmore the excitement can be generated through another coach Alabama recently acquired. Saban hired Atmore native Ron Middleton as an assistant coach last Friday. Middleton graduated from Escambia County High School and Auburn University before leaving the state of Alabama for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL in 1986.
Former ECHS head football coach Melvin "Buck" Powell remembers the former tight end well.
"I have been proud of him since I had him in his high school years," Powell said. "He is a fine young man and he was an outstanding athlete. He was a leader on the team and he was and still is a good Christian man. And I like that he is closer to Atmore now so I will be able to see him more often."
Middleton attended Auburn University and graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in pre-law/history and he received his Master of Education degree in sports and fitness management from Troy University in 1998. Upon graduation from Auburn, Middleton entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons.
He spent the next 10 years in the NFL and played for the Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers and two stints with the Washington Redskins. On his second stint, he was a part of the Redskins team that won Super Bowl XXVI following the 1991 season.
Before joining Saban's staff, Middleton was the tight ends and assistant special teams coach under Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden. Before Tampa Bay, he was the running backs/special teams coordinator for the University of Mississippi from 1999-2003.
In his final season with Ole' Miss, Middleton coached the 2003 Lou Groza award winning place kicker, Jonathan Nichols, who set many school records for a place kicker.
Prior to his stint at Ole Miss, Middleton coached tight ends, offensive tackles and special teams at Troy University from 1997-98. He also spent time in the private business sector as the vice president of American Communications before his time at Troy State, according to www.rolltide.com.
Middleton and Saban could not be reached for comment in this article.