Alabama Football: An early look at the Tide’s spring offensive tackles

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Not only does Alabama Football have to find two new starters at tackle, the successor at left tackle has big shoes to fill. Whoever eventually follows Evan Neal at left tackle will almost assuredly be a dropoff from last season.

Last season’s primary problem on the offensive line was at right tackle. None of the player options tested was up to playing at a championship level. Last spring the top candidate at right tackle was Kendall Randolph. Randolph later gave way to others and moved back to his blocking tight end role. As he had earlier in his Crimson Tide career, Randolph performed well at tight end.

Over the course of the 2021 season, Chris Owens and Damieon George Jr. were the starting right tackles. Both players too often struggled in pass protection. Alabama football insiders are convinced George does not have the quickness needed to play tackle but could be an effective guard.

At the start of this spring season, Nick Saban spoke highly of Kendall Randolph.

"I really love it when guys like Kendall Randolph show great resiliency, perseverance to continue to want to try to develop as players, make a commitment to the team to do whatever you need to do to help the team be successful. This is one of the guys that I’m most proud of in terms of where he came from when he was a young player to where he is now. To graduate, to become a leader, to set a really good example. To have sort of great goals and aspirations …… this is a great example of what college football should be. He’s created a lot of value for himself here by what he’s developed into, and we’re really, really proud of him. And I’m really happy to have him back. I think the first thing we’ve got to do Is let him compete for a starting job on the offensive line, which is going to be our first priority for him in the spring."

For Nick Saban, not often so effusive in praise, that was a lot of words about Kendall Randolph. No doubt the young man has earned every bit of Saban’s admiration.

Could Randolph be the Alabama Football starting left tackle in the fall?

Nick Saban would not be giving Randolph a chance this spring if he did not believe Randolph could start next fall. Despite that endorsement, the prospect unsettles many Crimson Tide fans. Similar to George, some Tide fans do not believe Randolph has the complete package of tackle, physical tools.

Of course, it is way too early to project next fall’s starters on the offensive line. But even in spring, there must be a first unit that works together. Recent practice photos show Randolph at left tackle and Javion Cohen at left guard. Other reports indicate Seth McLaughlin is at center, with George next to him at right guard and JC Latham at right tackle.

Keep in mind, Emil Ekiyor is recovering from a shoulder injury. When healthy, Ekiyor will start somewhere on the o-line.

There are other contenders who could break through and supplant Randolph. One of them might become Vanderbilt transfer, Tyler Steen. Steen took an official visit to campus this weekend. If he accepts his Crimson Tide offer, some Alabama football insiders believe Steen will start at left tackle next fall.

Next. Evan Neal is the best tackle in the NFL Draft. dark

One thing is certain – Kendall Randolph has earned his opportunity to be a starting tackle for the Alabama Crimson Tide.