Alabama Football: Spotlighting the Tide's Offensive Line
The Alabama Crimson Tide offensive line is one of the best you could ask for. It has its flaws, but it gets the job done. They win games, and they bring home trophies.
Two starters on the line, left tackle (then a right guard) Barrett Jones and center William Vlachos, were starters in 2009 during the championship run and helped slingshot Mark Ingram to his Heisman Trophy award.
Four out of five of the linemen are sure-fire future NFL draftees, and the five of them together may be paving the way to not just another Heisman Trophy, but a national title as well.
Here's a good look at the Alabama Crimson Tide's offensive line.
Left Tackle: #75 Barret Jones, Redshirt Junior, 6'5", 311 Lbs.
Butch Dill/Getty Images
Barrett Jones has come a long way since he joined the Crimson Tide as a 270 Lb. true freshman.
After Jones spurned his home-state powerhouse, Tennessee, he has become not only the best linemen on the current roster, but one of best in the Tide's history.
After earning playing time as a true freshman in 2008, Barrett Jones injured his shoulder and received a medical redshirt. He rebounded in 2009 and from his right guard position immediately helped carve a path for Mark Ingram to the Heisman Trophy.
After the tragic death of JUCO transfer, and former Tennessee Volunteer, Aaron Douglas, Nick Saban found it necessary to move Barrett from right guard to left tackle—the most important part of an offensive line.
Barrett Jones is by no means the strongest player on the team, let alone the offensive line, but his intelligence and instinct makes him the most valuable.
Barrett is looking like a sure-fire first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, should he elect to forego his redshirt senior year. There seems to be little reason for him to stick around past this season.
Jones hails from Evangelical Christian in Germantown, TN, just outside the city of Memphis.
Left Guard: #65 Chance Warmack, Junior, 6'3", 320 Lbs.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Chance Warmack had a tough campaign as a first year starting, replacing NFL draftee and All-American left guard Mike Johnson.
Returning Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram--who relied on runs between the tackles--rushed for less than 1,000 yards in 2010, Warmack's first year as a starter.
Since the 2011 season began, however, Chance has been making a statement for the entire nation to witness. He has become one of the best run blockers in all of college football.
Time after time he uses his superior power to impose his will on opposing defensive lines, opening holes—nay, canyons—for the Tide's running backs to scoot through.
Staying around for the 2012 season would greatly benefit Warmack, but should he choose to declare for the NFL Draft early, someone would pick him up in the later rounds.
Chance is yet another recruit that Nick Saban stole from under Georgia's Mark Richt. He comes from Westlake High, Atlanta, GA.
Center: #73 William Vlachos, Redshirt Senior, 6'1", 294 Lbs.
William Vlachos and Trent Richardson celebrate.
Butch Dill/Getty Images
William Vlachos was one of those sleeper projects. You know the guys, the ones that look just good enough to play, that may become stars, but seem bench-bound for most of their careers?
Well, Vlachos turned out to be the sort that turns into a star. Since his redshirt sophomore year, William has anchored the Tide's offensive line and has become one of the most valuable centers in all of college football.
Despite his recent, uncharacteristic streak of holding calls in 2011, he is about as reliable as they come. He doesn't mess up snaps and he doesn't whiff on blocks. Most importantly, he is the unquestioned leader of the offensive line.
Some folks are quick to point out how short he is, and how little he weighs. Vlachos may weigh under 300 lbs., but when he came to Alabama he weighed a lot less and had a lot more body fat. He carried around a veritable beer keg on his midsection.
Now, the "Battle Dwarf" still carries around a sizable paunch, but he weighs more and is one of the strongest members on the team, rivaled only by nose guard Josh Chapman, though right guard Anthony Steen is closing fast.
William Vlachos has been in the Rimington Trophy talks since the 2009 season, and 2011 just might be the year he wins it.
Even if he doesn't, William has proven his worth for five years now, and will be moving onto greater things in the NFL.
William Vlachos is home-grown Alabama power, and attended high school at Mountain Brook, a suburb of Birmingham.
Right Guard: #61 Anthony Steen, Redshirt Sophomore, 6'3", 303 Lbs.
Butch Dill/Getty Images
The Alabama offensive line is a wonder to behold, but even the strongest of walls have a weak spot. That weak spot is Anthony Steen, but I use the term "weak" very lightly.
I have long been a critic of Steen, but I am willing to eat crow and say that he has grown into another great Alabama lineman.
He still has some work to do, as he is hit or miss when it comes to blocking. When he hits, though, he hits hard.
Steen is one of the strongest members of the team and puts William Vlachos to the test every time they enter the weight room. When he hits his blocks, he pushes his opponent several yards out of the way.
He got off to a slow start, but he is now helping propel Trent Richardson on a clear path to the Heisman Trophy.
He has certainly come a long way since the 2010 Iron Bowl, where he whiffed on block after block.
A little known fact is that Steen contributed to his high school team as a kicker.
Anthony Steen concluded that the state of Alabama is just a better place to play football than his home state, Mississippi. He attended Lee Academy in Lambert, MS.
Right Tackle: #76 D.J. Fluker, Redshirt Sophomore, 6'6", 335 Lbs.
Greg McWilliams/Getty Images
D.J. Fluker began his football career in high school as a defensive linemen, and like many tall linemen with huge wingspans, Fluker was just too valuable to not play on the offensive line.
He was moved there as a senior in high school, where he proceeded to pancake 60 would-be defenders on his way to becoming a 5-star (and No. 1 in the nation) offensive tackle prospect.
D.J. was always huge by any standards, and weighed around 400 lbs. by the 8th grade.
His weakness has always been his footwork, but Fluker is getting better and better as the wins stack up. With enough time and coaching, he could even be a supreme left tackle.
D.J. could declare for the NFL draft early, as someone would be bound to take him, but it would benefit himself and the team a lot more if he stuck around for another year or two.
D.J. Fluker comes from New Orleans, LA, but after Hurricane Katrina uprooted him, he was in for a roller coaster ride, moving around quite a bit, some due to family issues.
Before joining the Crimson Tide, he finished his high school career at Foley High School, in Foley, AL, the very same school the legendary Julio Jones attended.