By Carlyle Rickenmann

Special to The Tuscaloosa News

ATLANTA – Ross Pierschbacher sat down at his station at SEC Media Days and was greeted by a flurry of questions and camera clicks. Once a young player from Iowa, but he was representing the defending national champions as a senior returning starter at SEC Media Days.

Pierschbacher will begin his fifth season with Alabama, marking his fourth year as a starter. An All-SEC performer last year and a second-team all-league player the year before, it is safe to say he’s played a lot of football with a lot of different people. He has started 42 games at guard, and running back Damien Harris praised that experience.

“Ross is one of the most dependable guys on our team. He started at right guard, he started at left guard, now he’s starting at center,” said Harris. “And so he’s really the anchor of our offense, and everything revolves around him and runs through him.”

When Pierschbacher first came to Alabama, he was characterized as being quiet and reserved. He has learned to speak up.

“You have to be more vocal and kind of commanding and have that confidence, so I think I’ve really had to transition with that,” said Pierschbacher. “That’s sort of what I’ve been working on the offseason just knowing that I’m going into my senior year.”

That leadership did not come naturally. Pierschbacher said that he wasn’t comfortable being on such a big stage with talented players from all over the country at first, but that “gaining the respect” over time increased his confidence. No player respects him more than Harris.

“He’s a guy that a lot of people look up to, and he’s versatile as a player,” said Harris. “He shows that unselfishness that he can do whatever he’s asked to do.”