Fall Camp Report – Offensive Line
Cyrus Kouandjio – 6’6, 311 Junior: Most NFL scouts list big CyKo in the top three overall NFL prospects for next year’s draft so we just have one more year to enjoy his work. He’s big. He’s nimble. He has the long arms that are needed for the LT position. In short, he’s the prototype of everything you’d want in a left tackle. He can still get better as a pass blocker but he’ll be the most dominant OL on the field every Saturday.
Brandon Greene – 6’5, 292 Redshirt Freshman: As I look at the depth at left tackle, I can pretty well understand why we need Cameron Robinson (5 star high school senior LT) in this next recruiting class. If CyKo were to suffer another injury, I shudder to think who would need to move into the LT position. My best guess is that Austin Shepherd would move from RT to LT, allowing Brandon Hill or maybe Leon Brown (very unlikely – see below) to slide into the less critical RT position. But, coming out of spring practice, Brandon Greene is listed as the #2 left tackle. He certainly has the athleticism to play the position but the left tackle spot requires much more than just raw athleticism. We will be tracking Greene’s progress as this could be a critical issue if something happens to Cyrus.
Kellen Williams – 6’3, 303 Senior: I think it says something that, as a senior, Williams finds himself listed third on the depth chart here. In our spring OL report (here), we felt Greene would surpass Williams on the depth chart and that’s exactly what happened…
Arie Kouandjio – 6’5, 311 Junior: As we predicted in the spring OL report, Arie K ascended to the top of the LG food chain and showed enough promise to become the unquestioned starter. The only concern with Arie is his ability to stay healthy and that’s why we will be monitoring the progress of Alphonse Taylor and the Hills this fall. But, if he stays healthy, Arie has the size and athleticism you’d want from a guard and his play has certainly made Coach Saban outwardly confident in his newly composed offensive line.
Alphonse Taylor – 6’5, 340 Redshirt Freshman: Taylor was our pick to push for a starting gig and that’s exactly what he did during the spring. Taylor is a massive physical specimen with the ability to become a battering ram when he pulls. We honestly feel as though the LG position is pretty well manned between Arie K and Taylor this season.
Chad Lindsay – 6’2, 290 Junior: Lindsay is really the backup center but he has logged some time as the LG in the past. We look for him to spend the vast majority of his time behind Kelly at C.
Isaac Luatua – 6’2, 313 Sophomore: Luatua needed a really strong spring to put himself in position for some playing time and by most accounts he didn’t quite make it. The task of finding some quality time on the field just became that much tougher with Bozeman, Grant Hill and Brandon Hill coming in the 2013 class. Things are not looking up for Luatua but since he’s just a sophomore he’s still got some time to impress. He is currently listed on Tidesports as the #2 right guard but we are a bit skeptical to think Luatua would replace Steen if an injury occurred.
Ryan Kelly – 6’5, 290 Sophomore: Are you sitting down? You need to be. Our spies tell us that Ryan Kelly is actually a BETTER center than Barrett Jones and that Bama is actually upgrading at this position. In fact, Jones has said so himself. Kelly was so good last year, the plan was for Barrett to replace anyone who got injured and Kelly would take over as the center. That tells me all that I need to know about young Ryan Kelly.
Chad Lindsay – 6’2, 290 Junior: Lindsay has been surpassed by Kelly so he may be used as a swing guard to take over at one of those position in case of injury.
Anthony Steen – 6’3, 303 Senior: When we first saw Anthony Steen, he was little more than a speed bump on the way to Nick Fairley sacking Greg McElroy. My how times have changed. Steen, now a senior, is considered to be one of the strongest players on the team and he uses that brute strength to gleefully move defensive linemen from point A to point B against their will. Steen has improved his play each and every year and is now considered to be a solid mid round NFL pick.
Isaac Luatua – 6’2, 313 Sophomore: See notes above. We do not really think Luatua would replace Steen at RG if he leaves due to injury.
Austin Shepherd – 6’5, 312 Junior: The Lighthouse staff always celebrates when we nail a prediction so suffice it to say Austin Shepherd winning the RT position made us very happy campers! Shepherd is solid, if not spectacular, and he’s dependable. In all of the Bama blowouts last year, we paid particular attention to the #2 line and Shepherd was head and shoulders ahead of the rest of his linemates. We expect Austin to do a fine job at right tackle. He won’t be DJ Fluker but very few OL are.
Leon Brown – 6’6, 313 Junior: When he gave his initial commitment, the initial reports about Brown were that he was “raw” and “unpolished” so we found it amusing that so many folks were ready to anoint him as the starter at right tackle. Brown has not impressed and there has actually been some talk about redshirting him during 2013. Meanwhile….
Brandon Hill – 6’6, 370(ish) True Freshman: God bless Brandon Hill’s momma because giving birth to this big behemoth must have been some kind of task. At this size, you immediately figure Hill to be a guard so it was surprising to see him spending so much time at right tackle in one on one drills on the field at A-Day. If you go to Fan Day or to another practice, Hill won’t be hard to find – he’s literally the elephant in the room! However, he’s shown that he has the natural ability to play the position and he seems to be earning the staff’s trust (while the staff wonders what exactly Brown can do for them) so don’t be surprised to see big Brandon Hill play this season at right tackle either in mop up duty or due to injury.
Newcomers: Grant Hill (6’6, 301) and Bradley Bozeman (6’4, 305) are coming in this fall while Leon Brown and Brandon Hill were early signees participating in spring drills. Everyone we have talked to is raving about Grant Hill and they are predicting stardom for this big un. Hill is already one of the strongest players on the team and we look for him to assert himself into the guard rotation this year. The staff will desperately try to redshirt him and, honestly, that would make the most sense. But, Hill may simply be too good to pass on if injuries bring about a need. Bozeman is not quite 100% recovered from a knee injury and will surely redshirt this season.
What we said in Spring: We here at the Lighthouse typically downplay our predictions but our spring preview couldn’t have been more spot on. We said Arie K would win the RG spot. He did. We said Alphonse Taylor would make a move at the position and become the #2 RG. He did. And, lastly, we were one of the very few people touting Austin Shepherd as the starting right tackle. Not only did we say Shepherd would win the job, we said that Brown would show he had a looooong way to go before he would be a viable option. It doesn’t get much more accurate than that. Pardon us for our humble brag moment but, hey, we like big butts and we cannot lie. Now you other brothers can’t deny! This fall, look for the Hills to come alive with the sound of pads popping – we think they will show themselves to be better guards/tackles than many of the players listed ahead of them.
Fall Camp Previews