07 August 2008
| John Michael Boswell - #67 – OL – 6-5 – 300 lbs. – Tuscaloosa, AL – Tuscaloosa County
Tyler Love - #72 – OL – 6-7 – 290 lbs. – Birmingham, AL – Mountain Brook
Barrett Jones - #75 – OL – 6-5 – 280 lbs. – Memphis, TN – Evangelical Christian
These three guys figure to the the core of the offensive line of the future for the Tide. Bama will likely be replacing 3/5 of its offensive line in 2009, and these guys figure to factor prominently into the depth chart as early as next season. Another big offensive line class is expected to be signed in 2008, and it is needed.
The best case scenario for all offensive lineman is that they are able to redshirt and spend a season getting bigger and stronger while they make the adjustment to the college game. Occasionally there is a lineman talented enough to walk onto campus and start from day one - Andre Smith
being a prime recent example. He is the exception to that rule, however, and if all 3 guys redshirt, they should not be considered a bust.
John Michael Boswell
was more visible at spring practice than any 2008 recruit, except for the 2 who were enrolled and participating. He took advantage of the proximity of Tuscaloosa County High and attended virtually every one of Bama's spring practices. He has worked at both guard and tackle in attempt to find a spot that suits him best. He could wind up at either position given his size and physical attributes.
Chance that he plays in 2008:
Doubtful. Bama's offensive line depth is horrible, but barring an injury to one of the starters, there should be sufficient depth to not have to use Boswell in that role. The fact that he is capable of playing either guard or tackle could make him a candidate to play early if there is an injury to one of the front line guys, though. Most lineman need at least a year to adjust, and I expect that he'll be given that opportunity.
was one of the nation's premiere offensive line recruits. A lot of top lineman in high school end up playing tackle, especially left tackle because teams must have a good player in that position to protect the QB's blind side. A lot of those players end up there not because they are suited for the position, but because they are their team's best lineman. Not Tyler. He is a pure tackle with the height, wingspan & athleticism needed for the outside position.
Chance that he'll play in 2008:
Fair. It was thought by many that he would start fall camp in a 3-way battle for the starting Right Tackle role. We're still in the first week of fall camp, so the fact that he isn't pushing Drew Davis
& Taylor Pharr
for playing time is not a cause for alarm. He has been recovering from a stress fracture in his right leg, and he is still wearing a brace because of it. Ultimately I think he ends up serving as the backup to Andre Smith at left tackle, with an eye towards taking over that role next season if Smith does, as expected leave for the NFL. A redshirt is possible, especially considering that Smith will likely log the vast majority of the snaps at left tackle. He could be used in mop up duty in order to gain experience, but my guess is that he'll redshirt if that is all that he is being asked to do. If the right tackle position remains inconsistent for Alabama he could get a shot there this season.
came to Alabama ranked by Rivals as the nation's #1 center prospect. Ironically enough, center is the one position that he has not practiced at during fall camp. Center was not his primary position in high school, but the one that he played at during the All-Star Game circuit. Like Boswell, he is versatile, and could project at any of the 5 spots across the line. His ticket to Tuscaloosa could have been punched before he was born, as his father Rex was a basketball player at Alabama. Regardless of the reason, he was ranked by some as the top player in Tennessee, and getting that player to come south to the Capstone is quite a coup.
Chance that he plays in 2008:
Doubtful. I could be lazy and just paste the exact same thing that I wrote about Boswell. The truth is that most lineman do
need that year. If he has to play as a true freshman, like Boswell & Love he is more equipped to do so than many other guys at his position. He is as potentially as versatile a lineman as Antoine Caldwell
, so there might be some time lost for him in fall camp because the coaches will have to figure out where he fits best. Unlike Love who will settle in at tackle and simply have to learn the technique of the right and the left side, Jones will likely be tried at all line positions before a final determination is made on where he will end up. That typically means redshirt.
Lineman, perhaps more so than any other position, have benefited from the increased evaluation and teaching on the camp circuit. There are times in High School that they guy they are blocking could be as much as 100 lbs. lighter than they are, and with those guys it used to be tough to gauge whether they had talent or just size. Now that determination is made by seeing them perform against the best defensive lineman in the country at camps. That gives coaches a much greater idea for what they are in store for with lineman.
With that in mind, it is my guess that there will be far fewer "misses" with line prospects over the next decade at the major schools than there were a decade ago.
I expect that all 3 of these guys will contribute before their time is done at Bama. They have all reported to campus in great shape and with a great resume of both on field performance during games & at camps. It is my hope that all can redshirt and begin next season helping to build the foundation of Alabama's next great offensive line.