Building a new offensive line is one of the processes inside Alabama’s perpetual process.

The Crimson Tide had three new starters in the 2016 season. Three more new players stepped in for the 2017 season and another changed positions. There were three new starters and another position change among 2018’s final five.

It’s too early to say what the final product in 2019 will look like, but it’ll look different than the group that finished 2018. Only right tackle Jedrick Wills and right guard Alex Leatherwood are back this year, though senior Matt Womack also has a season of starting experience. That’s a foundation for offensive line coach Kyle Flood to work with but there’s much to be determined before the season begins.

“Nobody ever has a guaranteed spot,” Wills said. “Even I can come in and have a terrible year and get kicked out, so every day you’re definitely competing and trying to see where you’re going to fit in. But in the end it’s Coach Flood’s decision as well as Coach (Nick) Saban’s, so we just try to do our best.”

Spring can be time for coaches to get a look at different combinations and cross-train players at new positions to help bolster depth. It’s also the first chance to start fitting pieces in the right place.

That could mean keeping players in the same position where they have the most experience or moving them elsewhere.

“Alex (Leatherwood) played left tackle before in the national championship game and played it his whole freshman year,” Saban said. “We’re just trying to get our five best guys there and he made the sacrifice to go play guard for a year.”

This year, it could be Womack making the move to guard. He started at right tackle in 2017 and was a backup last year.

“Playing inside is a whole different ballgame, for sure,” Wills said. “It’s a whole lot faster, a lot bigger guys, as well as a whole lot of second-level play. Then tackle is just like you’re kind of on your own island out there. It’s definitely two different games.”

Leatherwood started all 15 games at right guard and played hundreds of snaps there in 2018, but has also showed promise at left tackle. He was the player Alabama called upon in the national championship game against Georgia when Jonah Williams was injured. It was Leatherwood who spent most of the second half blocking during Alabama’s comeback.

Now he could have the opportunity to move back outside. That’s the next step in the process.

“I think it’s more like a sacrifice for the team than it was for himself,” Wills said. “He was one of the best five offensive linemen and that’s where they put him and I feel like he really stepped up and played that position really well.”

Reach Ben Jones at or 205-722-0196.