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Alabama reserve offensive lineman showing versatility at tight end

Alabama OL/TE Kendall Randolph (No. 85) next to Evan Neal (No. 73) versus Southern Mississippi on last week: Photo comes via Cedric Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Even with the return of Deonte Brown from suspension, Nick Saban is still creating ways for Alabama to run the football. He stated on Monday that Brown must ‘fight’ for his spot back at left guard; however, he said on Wednesday that a reserve lineman gives the Crimson Tide production in this area. 

An update has been made via rolltide.com on Kendall Randolph. 

The unanimous four-star and top-10 player in the state of Alabama from the 2017 recruited class is listed at offensive line and tight end, while he dons Nos. 85 and 60. He has seen 18 snaps in three of four games at right guard and was credited with two critical blocks in springing rushing touchdowns for Jerome (Duke) and Keilan Robinson (New Mexico State).

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 296 pounds, Randolph helped Bob Jones High School (Madison, Ala.) advance to the state playoffs in all four seasons of his tenure. 

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The program made it to the state semifinals his freshman year in 2013. 

While he likes the run-pass option scheme, Saban wants to build on the confidence the Tide had last week.

He said it was the first ‘complete game’ the team played, in terms of showing the ability to have a consistent rushing attack.

Najee Harris, a junior, recorded his first 100-yard performance of the season – totaling 110 yards on 14 carries against Southern Mississippi. 

Seeing how well he has done on the second team unit, Saban sees potential in Randolph at tight end to help create more balance moving forward. 

“When we want to run the ball, he’s a big, physical guy and he gets moving in the C area,” Saban said of Randolph. “He gives us something we don’t have with some of our other guys. Sometimes, you just want to have a guy that can put his hand in the dirt and be able to block big people and he gives us that.” 

The combination of Brown and Randolph should really benefit the Tide, especially with how Saban chooses to attack Saturday’s matchup with Mississippi. We may see Evan Neal get the start at left guard to gauge how well the team can run the ball and if there is a struggle, he replaces Neal with the tandem of Brown and Randolph. Regardless of what happens, schools such as LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State will look for ways to slow down the RPO’s. 

Should it happen, a productive form of a ground game will only make Tua Tagovailoa and this group of wide receivers much harder to defend.

Offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian made it known at the Open Practice/Fan Day in August that the ‘more things you do well, the harder it becomes for opponents to defend you.’ He wants this group to be more prolific than what it was last season and part of it is the ability to consistently average five yards per carry on the ground. 

Former Tide player, Brandon Greene served in the same role when he was on the roster. 

The move of Randolph to tight end will be something to watch. 

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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.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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