Can Alabama Football find depth at center?

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Huskies offensive lineman Parker Brailsford (72) against
Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Huskies offensive lineman Parker Brailsford (72) against / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After the untimely, post-spring transfer portal exit of redshirt junior James Brockermeyer, Alabama Football is left pretty thin at a very important position. 

Center was a major point of contention throughout the 2023 season for Alabama. Veteran Seth McLaughlin’s struggles were well-documented, but even more alarming was the fact that the coaching staff didn’t trust anyone enough to replace him. McLaughlin has now departed via the portal, as have his top two backups in Brockermeyer and Terrence Ferguson.

Coach Kalen DeBoer brought in Washington transfer Parker Brailsford, adding a starting-caliber player to the room. Though James Brockermeyer appeared to surge throughout the spring practice period, his transfer exit means that the job likely belongs to Brailsford.

As a result, Alabama is left with no proven depth at the position heading into 2024. Where can the Crimson Tide find answers? 

The only two options this late in the offseason are a portal addition and some rapid development. The portal addition would be a tough ask; the spring has already just about come and gone, and the Crimson Tide would most likely be looking for a player that doesn’t mind sitting behind Brailsford for at least a year. 

Developing a quality backup won’t be easy either. Redshirt freshman Roq Montgomery and true freshmen Casey Poe, Joseph Ionata, and William Sanders are all candidates to fill the void, but none have any experience.

It will be difficult to get these youngsters meaningful reps while also trying to assimilate Brailsford, who missed most of the spring practice period. His mysterious absence, which Coach DeBoer has repeatedly insisted is nothing major, could prove to be a serious inconvenience as Alabama tries to stabilize its center position. 

If the Tide can simply get the quarterback-center exchange to go smoothly, it will likely be improved at center in 2024. However, there is a lot of work to do here. Bama must quickly get Parker Brailsford acclimated to the offense and his new teammates, and must also figure out a contingency plan in the case that Brailsford should have to miss any time.