Alabama Football News

How long until Nick Saban looks to JC Latham on the offensive line?

JC Latham (#65) going through drills at Alabama practice
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics

Nick Saban signed the best group of offensive linemen of his coaching tenure at Alabama in February.

JC Latham was the biggest name of the five linemen. He arrived in the Crimson Tide’s recruiting class as a five-star from IMG Academy, but he hails from Oak Creek, Wisc.

Latham started at left tackle for IMG in 2020, helping the program to the No. 1 ranking in MaxPreps Xcellent Top 25 polls. He assisted the school to a 9-1 record as a junior and took Catholic Memorial High School to a 13-1 record in 2018, including a Wisconsin Division-3 state championship. Latham was a unanimous five-star athlete and the only offensive lineman that Justin Smith (recruiting analyst) of Touchdown Alabama Magazine awarded a diamond to.

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He earned one diamond, meaning Latham’s potential makes him an “immediate contributor or game-changer.”

When the Tide released its week one depth chart, Latham was behind Kendall Randolph at right tackle.

Alabama decided to play Chris Owens at the position versus Miami, and he has served there for all three games. Owens, a sixth-year senior, has a lot of game experience. He has been on two College Football Playoff National Championship teams and three Southeastern Conference title teams; however, is it time for Coach Saban to look at Latham as a starter?

Saban played Cyrus Kouandijo, Cam Robinson, Jonah Williams, Alex Leatherwood, Jedrick Wills, and Evan Neal played as freshmen.

Andre Smith was a second-year player when Saban arrived as head coach in 2007, but Smith started at left tackle. Alabama signed Smith, Kouandijo, Robinson, Williams, Leatherwood, and Neal as five stars. Wills was the lone four-star lineman of the group.

Smith, Robinson, and Williams were day one starters of the Saban era.

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These players were elite for a reason, and all assisted the Tide to conference championships, national championships, and other awards.

Smith, Williams, Leatherwood, and Wills were selected in the first round of their respective NFL Draft classes. Neal, an alumnus of IMG Academy, has been helping Latham transition to Alabama. According to Emil Ekiyor Jr., Latham has an ‘unbelievable’ ceiling. The freshman has NFL potential, and he might be the one 2021 athlete ready to play.

Dominance at offensive tackle is important for a balanced offense. Latham could add what Alabama’s been missing, but how long will Saban wait until putting two IMG players on the field together? The combination of Neal and Latham could be good.

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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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