Alabama Football: Spring practice and the five best offensive linemen

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa /

Getting the best five players on the field is an Alabama football goal for the 2018 offensive line. Spring practice is a time for experimentation and measuring options.

For Alabama football, the spring offensive line will be a bit like musical chairs. The vacancy at center, the injury to Matt Womack and the versatility of multiple players allows for experimentation.

Day one of spring the first group was left to right, Jonah Williams, Josh Casher, Ross Piersbacher, Lester Cotton and Jedrick Wills. Alabama football fans should not read too much into that lineup. Alex Leatherwood is and will be very much in the mix. Leatherwood performed well for an injured Jonah Williams for much of the national championship game.

While the center position is open for new starter, it appears none of the other starting slots are set either. Piersbacher and Brandon Kennedy could fill the center role. Jonah Williams is also a strong possibility. Insiders have reported Williams only needs to improve his snapping to win the job.

Why would Saban move the team’s best tackle to center? The answer is named Leatherwood, Wills and Womack. The Tide is loaded with quality tackles. Making all of this even more interesting is Wills, Leatherwood and Womack can also play guard.

Saban speaks about the O-line

Nick Saban had these comments after the first practice.

"We feel Alex and Jonah both can play left tackle, but I think Alex can play someplace else, and I think Jonah can play someplace else. I think Jedrick Wills may be able to play somewhere else. So the goal is always to get the best five players on the field and we may experiment with somebody else playing center at some point in time as well. I just really like both of those young players"

Saban does not praise young players often. His confidence in Leatherwood and Wills indicates a strong desire for them to earn starting roles. When Nick talks about the ‘five best’ some fans question Piersbacher being one of the five. Ross has tons of valuable game experience. He plays smart and can easily handle the blocking assignments required of a center. He is not one of the five most physical players.

Williams, Leatherwood and Wills are clearly the top three in terms of physicality. Lester Cotten is not far behind. Does that mean the 2018 offensive line’s fifth spot comes down to a battle between Matt Womack and Ross Piersbacher? We don’t know and at this point neither does anyone else.

Womack will not get an opportunity to claim his starting spot until fall camp. While he mends, Tuesday’s lead five and Leatherwood will battle each other and guys like Kennedy, Chris Owens, Deonte Brown, Scott Lashley and Dallas Warmack.

The experiments will continue with the ‘best five’ eventually becoming the best unit of five players. However it shakes out by September, Alabama football will have a talented and physical offensive line.

Next: 'Never too Early' 2018 Offense Depth Chart

The latest news on Tua and his thumb is it is only a sprain. He is expected back on the practice field in a few days.