02 July 2008
| Andre Smith - #71 - OL - 6-5 - 340 lbs. - Huffman, AL - Huffman HS - 2 Varsity Letters
I considered putting Andre in a special section all to himself. No, not because he is enormous, but because it is likely that despite being a Junior that this will be his final year at Alabama. A guy with his size and athleticism stands a great chance of being an NFL 1st round draft pick, and those guys typically make that jump.
I say typically because despite being 6’5, he is not blessed with overly long arms, something that most teams look for in a tackle. I have spoken to more than one NFL scout who believes that Andre’s future is at guard. If that turns out to be the case, then there is a slight possibility that he’ll return in 2009, as most teams are hesitant to use a 1st round pick on a guard.
This off-season is an important one for Andre. Despite winning the Jacobs Award, given to the SEC’s best offensive lineman, many people felt that Andre did not have the type of Sophomore season that his Freshman season indicated that he might. Don’t get me wrong, he was still very good; but there is definitely room for improvement.
Most people seem to share the opinion that a 310-320 lbs. Andre Smith would be more effective. Another year in Nick Saban’s
infamous “4th Quarter Program” could do wonders for Andre, allowing him to improve on the one thing that he struggled a little with in 2007 – the speed rush.
: Despite the fact that what you read above looks a little negative, Andre is still the best offensive lineman at Alabama, likely in the SEC, and possibly in the entire country. It is not a stretch to say that beyond John Parker Wilson
he is the most important player on the Bama offense, and for the same reason – there is no one on the depth chart behind him.
The difference between the two is that while the phrase “no one behind them” is a bit of a hyperbole in the case of Wilson, as Bama has 2 returning scholarship players (and 2 incoming freshmen) at QB. As things currently stand there is not another scholarship player at left tackle for Alabama – the only returning player at the position is Scott Deaton
, who is on the Bryant Scholarship. When you consider Alabama’s scholarship numbers situation and the fact that Deaton would count as an athletic scholarship if he plays, then you can surmise that it is highly unlikely that Deaton would get the nod in the case of an injury.
If an injury were to occur it is likely that either Antoine Caldwell
or Mike Johnson
would move out to left tackle. Either that or we would see one of the incoming freshmen Tyler Love
, John Michael Boswell
, or Barrett Jones
get a look there. Shudder that thought, though folks. If Andre does not start and play the vast majority of snaps at left tackle in 2008, then the Tide offense will struggle mightily.
I expect that we’ll see Andre once again earn the Jacobs Trophy, and once again be All-SEC. It would not surprise me, if the Bama offense as I expect improves, to see Andre as an All-American. If that happens, regardless of whether he ends up being projected at guard or tackle, don’t expect to see Big Dre back in Tuscaloosa in 2009.