The nature of being an offensive lineman in football is to be an unselfish player who puts the team’s success over individual goals.
Usually, they are the biggest, toughest and strongest players to set foot on the gridiron—only their mistakes are cast in the spotlight, not their yeoman’s labor on the front lines.
Even on winning teams, the big uglies in the trenches are usually the last unit to receive praise.
Barrett Jones was one of several Alabama Crimson Tide players to receive postseason recognition, but no award can signify his value to the 2011 national championship team. Last season as Alabama’s starter at left tackle, Jones was awarded the Outland Trophy—which is given to the nation’s top interior lineman.
Left tackle is a premium position in the NFL, so it was somewhat of a surprise that Jones announced the week before the BCS National Championship game that he would return for his senior season in 2012.
Speculation began to surface that Jones—who began his career with the Crimson Tide as a two-year starter at right guard—will switch positions this fall and line up at center in his final collegiate season, according to AL.com.
While it has not been confirmed (nor shot down), the possible move is intriguing for a number of reasons.
First, it is highly unusual for one of the nation’s top linemen to switch positions after playing at an All-American level—which is also a testament to how Nick Saban and his staff feel about the young talent that they are developing up front in Tuscaloosa.
Next, Jones is smart enough—he graduated with a degree in accounting last August with a 4.0 GPA—to handle making the line calls, and he gained some experience as the team's backup center in 2011.
But with only one offseason to prepare for the role, can he fill the shoes of the departed William Vlachos?
While that remains to be seen, the move could help his NFL prospects by showcasing his versatility and ability to play several positions up front at a high level.
Andy Staples of SI.com says that the Memphis native’s willingness to give more of himself unconditionally is a trait that should be appreciated by his teammates and supporters of the Crimson Tide.
Considering the success Jones has enjoyed on and off the field since arriving at the Capstone, having a two-time All-American lineman as his battery mate should give A.J. McCarron one less thing to worry about this fall.