Alabama Football News

Massive freshman OL to benefit from Alabama’s spring game

Evan Neal blocking at Alabama
Evan Neal looks to help stabilize Alabama's offensive line in first spring game. Photo by Kent Gidley - Crimson Tide Athletics

A slight scare in Alabama’s second scrimmage on last week turned to a sigh of relief for Crimson Tide football fans, as offensive tackle Jedrick Wills suffered just a minor injury. 

The junior and returning starter at right tackle had ankle problems during the latest exhibition inside Bryant-Denny Stadium and per initial reaction, the idea was that Wills either sustained an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear or a torn Achilles tendon – judging by the way he fell. 

Nick Saban cleared the air by stating it was a minor ankle issue and the results from Wills’ MRI on Monday proved the head coach to be right. While he will sit out the remainder of spring practice, this provides a chance for a freshman to emerge in place of the Kentucky native. 

RELATED: Is the culture of “Alabama to NFL” frustrating Nick Saban?

Evan Neal, a massive five-star recruit, has been seen getting reps at both first and second team units on the offensive line. Although he was recruited as an elite tackle, the Florida native from this year’s class worked at left guard – beside Alex Leatherwood – for the second scrimmage. 

Listed at 6-foot-7 and 360 pounds, the product of IMG Academy has powerful hands, quick feet and has managed to adjust to the learning curve. He was No. 4 on the ESPN 300, while being one of three five-stars in the class – joining Antonio Alfano (defensive lineman) and Trey Sanders (running back). 

Before Saban mentioned how pleased he has been with Neal, he was the one that worked five-star linebacker Nakobe Dean at sessions prior to the Under Armour All-America Game. 

Redshirt senior Matt Womack will use Saturday’s A-Day Game to make a statement as well; however, he is starting to fit in more at right guard.

With freshman Emil Ekiyor in high demand at left guard, having Neal work at right tackle should be fun to watch this weekend. 

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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