Alabama Football: What is going on at the center position?

Mar 21, 2024; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Offensive linemen Olaus Alinen and Parker Brailsford work on
Mar 21, 2024; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Offensive linemen Olaus Alinen and Parker Brailsford work on / Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA

Center is one of the most important positions in the game of football, and was one of the most controversial and problematic spots on the Alabama roster in 2023.

Seth McLaughlin’s struggles were well-documented throughout the season, and were only made bigger points of discussion when they finally contributed to costing the Tide a game in the Rose Bowl.

McLaughlin has since transferred, but the drama at the center position has not slowed down. After its coaching change, Alabama quickly added former Washington center Parker Brailsford via the transfer portal. Brailsford was one of the better centers in the sport last year, and was instantly penciled in as a starter by most media outlets. 

However, the transition hasn’t been so seamless. Redshirt junior James Brockermeyer isn’t ready to relinquish the job, and has been fighting hard in spring practice. Brockermeyer, like Brailsford, is an undersized center who plays with a chip on his shoulder. He enters his fourth year in the program, looking to graduate from his reserve role and seize a starting job. 

Additionally, Parker Brailsford has been dealing with personal off-field issues that have kept him out of practice. However, contrary to swirling rumors, he does not intend to transfer. Coach Kalen DeBoer confirmed over the weekend that Brailsford will play for the Crimson Tide this fall. 

What does all this mean for the center position?

Ideally, it means that Bama will have two capable centers on the roster heading into the 2024 season. Last season’s misadventures, and the ever-present possibility of an injury, make it increasingly important to have a good reserve at such a critical position. 

As spring practice begins to wrap up, there is still no clear indication of who will be the starter. This is a position battle that could possibly continue into fall camp, which would ultimately benefit the team in the long run.