Alabama football returns a wealth of experience on offensive line for 2020

Brett Hudson
The Tuscaloosa News

This story originally published Aug. 11, 2020.

The University of Alabama is returning four of its five starters on the offensive line, yet its depth chart remains a mystery. The same quality that makes its offensive linemen more valuable — positional versatility — is the same quality that gives the position group some intrigue.

If everything remained as it was last season, UA would only have to fill the shoes of a right tackle, with left tackle Alex Leatherwood, left guard Evan Neal, center Landon Dickerson and right guard Deonte Brown all returning for 2020. But there is no guarantee they remain in those positions.

How the line configures itself is more about who the UA coaching staff deems its fifth-best linemen. If it is rising center prospect sophomore Darrian Dalcourt or former starting center Chris Owens, Dickerson has experience at both guard and tackle from his tenure at Florida State.

Sophomore Emil Ekiyor Jr. could fit as both a guard and center. If he ends up securing a starting spot as a guard, Neal’s athleticism and length (6-foot-7) makes him easily projectable to tackle.

Alabama offensive linemen Evan Neal (73) and Alex Leatherwood (70) against Duke in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday August 31, 2019.

If UA chose to leave the other four as they are and find a right tackle stand-in, UA still has multiple options after Scott Lashley’s graduate transfer move to Mississippi State. Redshirt sophomore Tommy Brown was the second-team tackle on the opposite side of Lashley, but redshirt freshmen Pierce Quick and Amari Kight could provide competition.

With all of the potential replacement options, UA has at least 10 plausible starting offensive line combinations when it starts preseason practice. Many of them present different strengths and weaknesses, dependent on which players occupy which positions, thus the exact combination of offensive line starters could be a foundational point for the UA offense.

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