Alabama Football: A quiet competition for key starting job


Over the next few weeks, Alabama Football position battles will fill headlines. Every Crimson Tide fan knows Nick Saban and the Alabama football staff must choose new starters on the offensive line, at wide receiver and in the secondary. The competition for the key roles will garner most Fall Camp attention.

Somewhat lost in the clamor over who the new Crimson Tide starters will be – is another void to be filled at a key position. Thomas Fletcher performed so well for the Tide as a long-snapper, he was drafted by the NFL. Not many snappers achieve that NFL distinction.

To replace Fletcher, the Crimson Tide has two freshmen. One of the inexperienced snappers will start for the Tide against Miami. Long snappers do not gain much notice unless their failure costs a team key points or the loss of field position. Without proficient, consistent snappers, punters and placekickers cannot excel. Alabama Football placekicker, Will Reichard was perfect last season. Reichard will readily admit Thomas Fletcher was key to having the stellar performance.

One of the freshmen snappers, either Kneeland Hibbit or Carter Short must produce quickly. That the battle between the pair gains little notice does not make the outcome less important. Both players joined the Crimson Tide as preferred walk-ons. Short played at Hoover High School. Kneeland played at Florence High School and is the grandson of former outstanding Alabama Football receiver, Dennis Homan. Choosing the Crimson Tide was an easy decision for Hibbit.

Kohl’s Snapping Camps ranked Carter Short as the No. 13 long snapper in the country. Like new Crimson Tide players Dallas Turner and Deontae Lawson, Short played in the high school, All-American Bowl.

Holders know the importance of solid snappers. So do punters. An offline snap can destroy the timing of a punter as much as it can a placekicker.

Another Fall Camp battle might last into the regular season. The Crimson Tide needs better punting than last season. The four competing punters are two returning players, Ty Perine and Sam Johnson, along with newcomers, Jack Martin and James Burnip. Martin put up impressive numbers at Troy. The Australian, Burnip has never played in an American-style football game but brings a big leg to Tuscaloosa.

Next. Pre-Camp Two-Deep Depth Chart. dark

Punt and kick returner jobs are also open for the Crimson Tide. Several players will compete to become the primary returners.