Alabama Football: Breakout player possibilities on the offensive line

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Less than a month before the start of the Alabama Football fall camp, the Tide’s offensive line position group is filled with questions. From February through summer, fans and college football pundits speculate about which players can have breakout seasons.

Alabama football needs more than a few breakout players, mostly on offense and particularly on the offensive line. A program having to replace the Heisman Trophy winner, along with two offensive teammates who finished No. 3 and No. 5 in the Heisman voting – should be expected to need a rebuilding year or at least half of a season. Alabama Football does not accept such a limiting outlook. As Nick Saban explains in the offseasons following every Alabama Crimson Tide National Championship, everything starts over.

Speaking about his individual perspective, that also applies to his staff and his players, Nick Saban said a few years ago,

"… every year how do you sustain what you’re trying to accomplish from a standards standpoint? Every year is a rebuilding year in my mind."

Saban would be quick to say (as he has about earlier teams) the 2021 Alabama Football team has won nothing. When you start from zero, of course, you are rebuilding.

Crimson Tide fans know the talented Bryce Young is unproven. They know DeVonta Smith was arguably the best Alabama wide receiver ever. Also known is no returning running back has all the proven capabilities of Najee Harris. And in addition, replacing the explosive Jaylen Waddle is a major challenge.

Rebuilding Alabama Football Offensive Line

None of those offensive roster voids will be sufficiently filled unless the offensive line is successfully rebuilt. A solid argument can be made the Crimson Tide is in more need of breakout players on the offensive line than elsewhere. NFL exits took three Tide starters. Probable first-team All-American, Evan Neal and Emil Ekiyor Jr. will start, along with an occasional past starter, Chris Owens. Many names are thrown around for the other two starters but none of them are locks.

New offensive line coach, Doug Marrone has a tough task. In a best-case scenario, Marrone has clear leaders for the two open slots after the last fall camp scrimmage. To get there, multiple lineups will have to be tried. Expected to compete for starter slots are Tommy Brown, Kendall Randolph, Javion Cohen and Damieon George. Pierce Quick cannot be ruled out, and neither can Darrian Dalcourt and  Amari Kight. Plus there is J.C. Latham. The talented freshman could well earn a starting role later in the season. It would be major news if Latham becomes a starter for the season opener.

Marrone cannot work magic immediately. It takes time for offensive lines to jell. Replacing Alex Leatherwood, Landon Dickerson and Deonte Brown will take time. How soon the next Crimson Tide starting unit comes together could hinge on ‘breakout’ performances by a new starter.

Next. Predicting the running back depth chart. dark

The good news scenario is when two Tide offensive linemen earn new starting jobs, they will have won highly competitive battles from a deep Crimson Tide bench.