Alabama head coach Nick Saban challenged his offensive line in Thursday’s presser.
He wants the group up front to play with toughness and physicality.
The Crimson Tide had issues last year with pass protection and running the football effectively as the front allowed 39 sacks of Bryce Young. Alabama did not solve its problem at center until the second half of the Iron Bowl with Seth McLaughlin. It had a revolving door at right tackle as Chris Owens, Kendall Randolph, and Damieon George all got a turn, but none were dominant.
The Tide has a new offensive line coach, Eric Wolford, but Emil Ekiyor is excited about a young player that looks to gain an opportunity to shine as a starter up front. JC Latham is entering his sophomore season in Tuscaloosa. He arrived as a five-star offensive tackle in the 2021 class and the “most college ready” player per Justin Smith of Touchdown Alabama Magazine.
He was arguably the top tackle prospect in the class and has won the trust of his teammates.
On Friday, Ekiyor spoke highly of Latham during an interview with reporters.
“That is my guy,” Ekiyor said of Latham. “He came in from day one as a freshman and was ready to work. He and I this summer got in a lot of reps. We would come here in the morning to get extra sets in. I am taking him under my wing as an older guy. He has put in a lot of work this offseason, and I feel he’s ready to have a big year.”
The 6-foot-6, 326-pounder played 14 games last year, missing only the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
He earned 104 snaps in his first season, including marquee time versus Cincinnati in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. Latham replaced an injured Ekiyor against the Bearcats, helping Brian Robinson rush for 206 yards and Bryce Young toss three touchdowns.
He is pursuing a starting job at right tackle for the Tide.
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