Throughout the 2012 offseason here at "Your Best Eleven," we're going to be bringing you player spotlights on the some of the young men who will play key roles for teams across the nation.
Kicking this off, we take a trip down to Tuscaloosa to look at a guy who has already proven himself to be a monster but must again prove his worth—this time at a new position as a senior for the Tide.
Barrett Jones has all sorts of hardware when it comes to being an accomplished offensive lineman. He was a starting right guard for the Tide's 2009 BCS Championship team and a freshman All-American that same season. He's been All-SEC a couple times. He moved over to left tackle and was not just an all-world player, but he also won the Outland Trophy as a junior a season ago.
So after going from guard to tackle, why wouldn't Barrett Jones be up for the final frontier of offensive line play—center? The fifth year senior is taking over for the now departed longtime center William Vlachos as the anchor of the offensive line.
It's a somewhat atypical move, but one that just about all of us expect Barrett Jones to make without much of a problem. It isn't a total experiment as Jones got a few reps in a year ago, but the move itself is interesting for a myriad of other reasons.
For one, Jones was featured at the premier spot—the money position—on the offensive line just a year ago.
As a junior, Jones had the chance to toss his name into the draft and be one of the top offensive tackles taken to help the NFL. Instead, Barrett Jones is back for year five, and he's making yet another addition to the versatile nature of his game.
Adding center to his resume is a move that just proves his worth in the future. There are a lot of players that can go from guard to center or from guard to tackle, but a player with big-time experience playing all three spots would truly break the mold at the NFL level.
After the left tackle spot, center is the most sought after position, and Jones, with a solid 2012 campaign, will have both of those notches in his belt.
As for the 2012 season, there is no doubt in my mind that Jones is capable of filling Vlachos' shoes. He's a big, physical lineman. but at 6'5" 302 lbs, he is not the mountain of man that would have leverage issues in the middle the way a taller or longer more prototypical left tackle moving inside would.
The kid has tremendous footwork and hand skills that will aid in him moving defensive tackles. He has the ability to pull and get involved at the second level in the running game, something invaluable to a run first offense like Alabama. Also, as we saw a year ago, Jones is quite comfortable in pass protection.
AJ McCarron should feel safe next season as Cyrus Kouandjio, a physical marvel good enough to start as a freshman a season ago, steps into the left tackle spot while Jones slides down to center.
With DJ Fluker manning the opposite tackle spot from Kouandjio, this Bama line is rounded out by Chance Warmack and Anthony Steen. All are experienced, and these guys should help keep the Tide's running game humming.
Barrett Jones has a shot at the Remington Award. and putting that on the shelf with his Outland Trophy and All-American status is something for Bama fans to get excited about.