Crystal Ball Says Alabama’s O Line of the Future Could Be Its Best
By: Larry Burton
Over the Nick Saban years, Alabama has been blessed with offensive lines that were among the top in the country. Some may say that at least one of those lines was the very best in the nation for that year. But the time is coming and not too far down the road, where Alabama may very well have its best offensive line of all time.
Certainly Saban has spoiled the Alabama Nation with one top recruiting class after another, but this upcoming class of 2015 is filled with four 4 star offensive linemen that will anchor the team for many years.
Consider the following:
Brandon Kennedy, of Wetumpka, Alabama, is the nation’s number one recruit at center and at 6’2” and 295 pounds as just a high school junior, (as all of this class is) he will of course only get bigger and stronger.
Then consider that Richie Pettibone, 6’3” – 309 pounds, Lester Cotton, 6’4” – 321 pounds and Dallas Warmack (yes that’s Chance Warmack’s “little” brother) at 6’2” and 306 pounds are all four star offensive interior linemen and that all four of these young men are in the top ten of most recruiting sources top ten prospects in their position in the country. So that’s Brandon Kennedy, the nation’s #1 center, Lester Cotton, the nation’s #2 guard, Richie Pettibone, the nation’s number 5 guard and Dallas Warmack, the nation’s 10th ranked guard.
That would be reason enough to cheer and become delirious if you’re a Tide fan, but when you consider that the 2014 signing class also had six of the best offensive linemen in a group that was almost unilaterally hailed as the best offensive line class in the country. Included in that group was a huge tackle prospect, Cameron Robinson, a huge 6’6” tackle at 322 pounds who could possibly get a look a starting job as early as this fall, considering he graduated early and played spring ball here. He was the nation’s #1 tackle prospect. Add to that 6’7”, 315 pound Dominick Jackson, who was the nation’s#1 JUCO tackle prospect and you have some great looking tackles for the future too.
Also in this 2014 class are 4 other four star offensive lineman. Joshua Casher was the number one center prospect in the nation for this class. This marks two years in a row that Alabama lands the nation’s best centers. J.C. Hassenauer was the #3 ranked guard, Ross Peirschbacher was the nation’s 8th rated tackle coming out of high school and Montel McBride was the nation’s 15th ranked guard but at 6’4”, he could transition into a tackle if needed.
The Tide would be set for years to come even without the great 2015 class that’s already committing, but if they indeed sign all these people in two consecutive classes, Alabama will be the nation’s deepest and most talented offensive line in the country for years to come. They could just field teams that outdo anything Alabama’s ever done.
Now if you were a running back or quarterback, what team would be on your shortest of short lists? Of course, Alabama. This line will have the potential to take an average running back and make him look great and a great running back a Heisman contender. An average quarterback can pick you apart if he’s given enough time and just like the running backs, this line could make a great quarterback a sure fire contender for all the top awards too.
Then there’s the other side of the coin. Any defensive line that practices against this group week in and week out will practice against such a great group that it will elevate their game to higher levels too and make game time against a lesser line seem like a cake walk.
Last week Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks told everyone who would listen that Saban is the best of the best when it comes to recruiting, but in the case of landing the best offensive line that may ever be assembled, he’s just showing off now. For Saban, it’s not enough just to have the nation’s number one recruiting class year in and year out, he has to show that the only real competition is outdoing himself and at least with this year’s and last year’s class, he’s doing just that.
Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter