Alabama Football Spring Preview: Offensive Line
Hot and cold. Unfortunately this is not just the name of a Katy Perry song, but it has also be a resemblance of the Tuscaloosa weather lately-leaving me with a terrible head cold over the past few days. However, if there is anything that can brighten anyone’s spirits, it is the prospect of Alabama football and spring practice 8 days away.
One of the biggest concerns facing the Crimson Tide this season is the offensive line.
At left tackle, Alabama has a future first round pick in Cyrus Kouandjio locking down the blind side. At right guard it is presumed that Anthony Steen will hold down the same position he has held on the line. At center you can almost pencil in Ryan Kelly, who got plenty of reps heading into the national championship while Barrett Jones was in the midst of rehabbing.
When you put that in perspective, the offensive line is in actually in pretty good shape. Here are some names who I expect to be in contention for the vacant spots at right tackle and left guard.
Leon Brown, Junior College transfer
Brown is a player that fell a little bit under the radar on the recruiting scene, but after committing to the Alabama Crimson Tide, the junior college transfer started to get a little bit more attention. He is similar to Cyrus Kouandjio in the sense he has a tall, almost lean frame (Brown is 6’6, 305 lbs), so it will be important to add some size and strength before facing the gauntlet of an SEC schedule. Brown is also a name we’ve heard a lot about so far which leads me to believe he may be the front runner for this spot.
Brandon Hill, Junior College transfer
Last year DJ Fluker was an impressive figure at the right tackle position and Hill could be just as imposing. Hill towers in at the 6-foot-5, 6’6 range while tipping the scales at nearly 380lbs. The good news is, Hill carries the weight extremely well, but the same could be said for Fluker when he first arrived on campus. If Hill can get his weight down and his conditioning level up, he’ll very much be a factor to fill this vacant position.
Arie Kouandjio, 6’5 310lbs, JR
It is often forgotten how talented Kouandjo was coming out of high school; a player many considered to be a four star prospect. However, it has never been talent keeping Kouandjio off the field, rather his health-most notably knee injuries early in his career. If he can stay healthy, I believe Kouandjio will have every chance to take this spot. Plus, I’m not going to lie, I am pulling for it because I think it would be cool to see the brothers play next to each other.
Kellen Williams, 6’3 300 lbs, SR
Williams is a guy who has been in the system for 4 years now, working hard behind the scenes. A player with good size, he is a very tenacious offensive lineman with good feet-both good traits to have if one is vying for a position on the Alabama offensive line. Simply put, he has the tools and experience to take hold of this spot-now it will come down to the expected competition between he, Koudnjio and the next member of this list, Austin Shepherd
Austin Shepherd, 6’5 312 lbs, JR
Shepherd is another one of those guys that has been in the system for some time and posses a lot of the same attributes as Williams. Shepherd was mentioned by Barrett Jones (along with Kouandjio and Williams) as a guy who could come in and fill the position left behind by Chance Warmack.