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Depth at Tackle on the Offensive Line Something New for Alabama

The difference in the this year’s offensive line and others is huge. To find out how big, read why Saban and every fan in the know is so excited.

This year they'll be less uninvolved offensive linemen on the sidelines. (Photo-TDA Magazine)

Depth at Tackle on the Offensive Line Something New for Alabama

By: Larry Burton

While Nick Saban has done the best job of any coach over the past 10 years in keeping the shelves stocked with high caliber talent, it’s been hard for that talent to appear at all positions in mass and offensive line has been one of those places. This season is different. Alabama has an experienced offensive line full of experienced and bruising players, that isn’t so different from past years, but having a bench full of talent ready to push those players hard and supply non season ending players should a starter go down.

In the past, if Alabama lost a starting lineman or two, the season may have suffered, not this year. The bench is well stocked with players who may be starters in other schools.

The players particularly are getting lots of attention. Alex Leatherwood may be the one getting the most looks and at 6’6” 322 pounds, he’s hard to miss and he’s pushing hard for a spot this year even though he’s not quite expected to make it against reshirt sophomore Matt Womak.  Still, the battle makes the number one work that much harder and get that much better. Also here since summer is five-star Jedrick Wills and four-star Kendall Randolph. Now that they’re in full pads, both these men are also showing defensive linemen and linebackers that they’re going to be a handful and with the depth on this team, they’re only listed as third team right now.

Jedrick Wills was a five star tackle, the number one prospect in Kentucky and the fifth best tackle in the U.S. coming out of high school last year. He’s 6’4” and about 318 pounds and he’s still growing. Kendall Randolph is just a little smaller at 6’4” and 309, but he too is just 18 years old and still has some growing to do. It’s a great problem for a coach to have wondering how to work this talent into the team, getting them a little experience and having them ready just in case.

This is a stark contrast to years when when Alabama had such limited talent at tackle and an injury would have caused major problems for the offense.

Nick Saban has said that though they had a first-round left tackle for nine straight years playing left tackle, there were some who played many years at that position and the depth behind them was slim. The notion that Alabama was always stacked to the brim with talent at every position may have been true, but once past the starters, there were definitely gaps at tackle has been one of them.


Famous sports announcer Keith Jackson once made the point that football begins and ends with the battle of the “big uglies” and he was so true.

In the upcoming game with Florida State, the difference in the game will be that Alabama will have a solid offensive line that forms a great wall in passing situations and a pack of bulldozers on running plays while Florida State  will be trying to get things going with a newly assembled offensive line and doing so against the best defensive front they’ll play this year. On most other areas, the two teams will match up well. So if you want to see how important an offensive line is, this will be the game to watch.

While Florida State struggles to keep the offensive line starters in the game and productive, watch closely to see when Alabama actually rests their offensive starters and tries some of the depth in their prize backups. Saban has said earlier this week that he plans on rotating in some of that great talent. What he don’t know is if he’ll platoon them or mix them in and out one at a time. What we do know though is that line of “Big Uglies” will certainly be the spot to watch on both sides.

Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at


Larry Burton is a member of the Football Writers of America Association (FWAA) and was the most read SEC and Alabama football writer during his time at Bleacher Report. He has been credentialed by all the major bowls and the University of Alabama. Larry provides some of the best insight in the business through his "Larry's Lowdown" segment with TDA.

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