7. Offensive line, especially the guards
At the end of 2018, Alex Leatherwood was playing right guard and Deonte Brown left guard. Brown is suspended for the first month of 2019, and Leatherwood might be the team’s next left tackle.
With center Ross Pierschbacher also moving on, the middle of Alabama’s offensive line is suddenly undergoing a rebuilding process under new assistant Kyle Flood. The only certainty is that Jedrick Wills will start somewhere, probably right tackle again. Leatherwood, whose 2019 season began in rough fashion, needs to take the next step forward in his development. TideFans.com is projecting him at left tackle.
That would leave the middle of the line open for competition. Popular senior Matt Womack, who lost his starting job in 2018 due to injury, finished the year as the team’s sixth lineman and if Saban can find a place to start him, it’s probably going to happen. The most likely place is right guard. Center would seem to be a competition between Chris Owens and Emil Ekiyor Jr. Brown will get left guard eventually, but at the beginning of the year, expect the loser of the Owens/Ekiyor battle to wind up there. The wild card in all of this is tackle Scott Lashley, who has always had the ability to make waves. If he were to overtake (or hold off) Leatherwood at tackle, Leatherwood would move back to guard.
Summary: There are 10 other scholarshipped linemen in camp this spring, so going through all the permutations of starting lineups would be too lengthy an endeavor for this article. We see primarily nine linemen as legitimate competitors for starting jobs, and competition will be fierce. Lashley needs to make a move now while he still has a window open; Owens almost lost his position in the pecking order to Ekiyor last year. The most interesting battle to watch will be Womack versus anyone else, as this is his last chance to work his way back into regular action.
READ MORE: Defensive Tackle
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