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Bama spring football: The scoop on who’s battling for time at QB and O-Line

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban (Photo: YouTube)
Alabama head football coach Nick Saban (Photo: YouTube)

The most intriguing part about spring football is seeing new players for the first time, or seeing which players will be stepping into bigger roles. For the Alabama offense, that’s pretty much everyone. The Crimson Tide coaching staff must face the tough task of replacing 10 starters from last year’s offense, including quarterback, and three spots along the offensive line. With heavy competition expected at each spot, we have broken down each position and the players we believe will be in the thick of close position battles.

Quarterback:

Jacob Coker – Rs Senior, 6’5″ 235 lbs.
Coker backed up Blake Sims in 2014 and has the most (and really the only) game experience of the returning quarterbacks. Based on that, he enters spring practice as the frontrunner, but has work to do to hold off the rest of the pack. Coker played in seven games in 2014, completing 38 of 59 pass attempts for 403 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Alec Morris – Rs Junior, 6’3″ 230 lbs.
Morris has a big arm and has spent more time in Alabama’s system than any of the candidates. It would be a surprise if he won the job, but he should not be totally counted out of the competition.

Cooper Bateman – Rs Sophomore, 6’3″ 215 lbs.
Cooper Bateman has made huge strides in the strength and conditioning program since joining the tide in 2013 and may be the most likely candidate to push Coker. Bateman is a pro style QB, but because of his speed has been used on the scout team to prepare the defense for duel threat quarterbacks.

David Cornwell – Rs Freshman, 6’5″ 230 lbs.
Many fans have a tendency to forget about guys after their redshirt seasons, but Cornwell was a big time recruit just a year ago, and is a big guy with decent speed, similar to Coker. He definitely has the potential to be a big mover at the QB position over the course of spring practice.

Blake Barnett – Freshman, 6’5″ 210 lbs.
A January enrollee, Barnett was part of the 2015 recruiting class and is a pro style pocket passer with great speed, giving him the ability to beat a defense with his legs if necessary.

My take: All 5 guys have a chance to make a push for the starting job, but ultimately it will come down to Coker, Bateman, and Cornwell, with Coker finishing the spring number one.

Offensive Line:


Left tackle Cam Robinson and center Ryan Kelly are the only returning starters on the offensive line for the Crimson Tide. The competition for the three open spots should be wide open and very interesting.

Dominick Jackson – Senior, 6’7″ 320 lbs.
Jackson is a physical run blocker with the versatility to play both guard and tackle. Expect to see him spend time at both positions during the spring. Jackson received limited playing time late in games in 2014.

Grant Hill – Junior, 6’6″ 322 lbs.
Hill is the only returning offensive lineman with game experience at tackle, other than Robinson, and will likely be the lead candidate to win the job at right tackle. Hill has potential to be a very good player, and the Alabama staff will need him to step up and take advantage of the opportunity.

Alphonse Taylor – Rs Junior, 6’5″ 325 lbs.
Taylor’s battle for the right guard position lasted into the season last year, where he split time with Leon Brown through the first 3 games. That experience could give him a leg up heading into spring as he will once again find himself in the middle of a battle for a starting spot.

Bradley Bozeman – Rs Sophomore, 6’5″ 325 lbs.
Bozeman is another versatile offensive lineman that can play center, guard, or tackle. He gained experience last season at center, starting two games while filling in for Ryan Kelly. Bozeman is likely to practice all over the OL during the spring, and will have a good chance to win the starting job at one of the guard spots.

Joshua Casher – Rs Freshman, 6’1″ 300 lbs.
Casher redshirted as a freshman last season, but that did not stop him from impressing on the practice field. He has a mean streak and is a fierce run blocker. He was recruited as a center, but could find himself in the battle for a spot at guard.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the other position battles worth keeping an eye on throughout spring practice. The Tide is set to begin Friday before taking a week off for spring break.

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