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Who is Eric Wolford? Alabama’s new offensive line coach

Eric Wolford, Kentucky's offensive line coach, directing signals in practice for the Wildcats in 2021

Alabama’s offensive line valued toughness and physicality under Joe Pendry, Jeff Stoutland, and Mario Cristobal.

Kyle Flood brought more finesse to the Crimson Tide in 2019 and 2020, but it produced a Joe Moore Award winner and a national champion in 2020. After having Doug Marrone in 2021, Nick Saban returns to the blueprint.

Respectable sources have confirmed with Touchdown Alabama Magazine on Marrone heading back to the National Football League.

He was not a fit in Tuscaloosa, and Coach Saban has poached someone from the University of Kentucky with ties to the Southeastern Conference.

RELATED: Alabama to hire Kentucky OL coach Eric Wolford replacing Doug Marrone

Eric Wolford, 50, brings a style that resembles Pendry and Stoutland. 

As an Ohio native, he played offensive guard at Kansas State from 1990-93. Wolford was a mauler and masher in college, and he will provide the intensity for the Tide. He spent one season in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals (1994), but Wolford has 21 years of experience with offensive linemen. After gaining experience as a graduate assistant at Kansas State, Wolford has coached at South Florida, Houston, North Texas, Arizona, Illinois, South Carolina (twice), San Francisco 49ers (assistant O-Line coach), and Kentucky. He spent five years (2010-14) at Youngstown State as its head coach, garnering a 31-26 record with four winning seasons.

Wolford’s offensive units have produced six 1,000-yard running backs, including Chris Rodriguez in 2021 for Kentucky.

He posted 1,379 yards rushing and nine touchdowns on 225 carries. The Wildcats had a veteran group — anchored by Darian Kinnard, Dare Rosenthal, and Luke Fortner — that became a finalist for the Joe Moore Award.

Kentucky’s offensive line helped it score 40+ points in five games and averaged 5.51 yards per carry. The Wildcats led the SEC and ranked fourth in the nation for rushing offense.

Wolford’s unit had the Wildcats excellent in short-yardage situations on third and fourth downs, converting 66.7 percent on attempts.

Kentucky protected quarterback Will Levis to nearly 3,000 passing yards (2,812) with 24 touchdowns.

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Levis took 22 sacks, which was 17 fewer than Bryce Young (39), and the protection allowed Wan’Dale Robinson to catch 104 passes for 1,348 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Levis tallied six games with 2+ touchdown passes, and Kentucky’s offensive line pushed it to a 10-3 record last season. Alabama was not a finalist for the Joe Moore Award in 2021.

Saban is looking for ways to get better, and good coaching on the front line is one of them.

Wolford fits the dominant, smash-mouth style Saban likes.

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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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