03 July 2008
| Mike Johnson - #78 – OL – 6-6 – 298 lbs. – Pensacola, FL – Pine Forest HS – 2 Varsity Letters
Mike is another versatile offensive lineman who has changed positions. That exact sentence could have been said about Mike in every off-season he’s had at Alabama. Mike came to Tuscaloosa as a tackle, then moved to guard, then back to tackle, and now back to guard again. Is this a matter of shuffling one of the best lineman into a need position? Or is it a case of trying to find somewhere Mike can be successful?
The answer is probably somewhere in between. Despite the fact that he started 10 games at right tackle in 2007, I don’t think anyone would say that Mike had a great season. The fact that he was able to be even decent at right tackle for that number of games speaks volumes about his overall grasp of the offense and his ability to work his way through situations.
The fact that he spent the last 3 games of the regular season at right guard, and during the spring spent all of his time at left guard, speaks equally about how the coaching staff feels about his ability to play tackle. He is not blessed with tremendously quick feet, which limits his ability to sustain blocks on speed rushes, something you see a lot of in the SEC.
: At left guard Mike will get a lot more chances to be a lead blocker on rushing plays. With Andre Smith
at left tackle, the Tide is almost certain to send the majority of its rushing plays to that side. With only David Ross
currently behind him on the depth chart, massive changes would have to be made if Mike can not handle the job.
There are options for that scenario, however. Center Antoine Caldwell
has played guard in his career, and former backup center Evan Cardwell
is now working at right guard. Either one of them could be an option at left guard.
The other potential possibility for Mike is a move back to right tackle. Neither of the two guys (Drew Davis
& Taylor Pharr
) who played that position in the spring has had much success and behind them will be true freshmen Tyler Love
, John Michael Boswell
& Barrett Jones
. If right tackle continues to be a problem for Bama, Mike might be the option to try to fix it.
Regardless of how it all shakes out, I think that barring injury we’ll see a lot of Mike in 2008. He started all 13 games in 2007, and I think we’ll probably see a repeat of that.