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Alabama football to lean on loaded offensive line with four returning starters

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

TUSCALOOSA - Alabama returned from its Citrus Bowl win over Michigan,could put an oddity of a two-loss season  and work toward their normal standard.

It was also the day offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood announced he would return for a senior season.

Leatherwood was the fourth returning starter for an Alabama offensive line that could produce multiple award winners in 2020.

Players: Senior Alex Leatherwood, sophomore Evan Neal, redshirt senior Landon Dickerson, redshirt senior Deonte Brown, redshirt sophomore Emil Ekiyor Jr., sophomore Darrian Dalcourt, redshirt senior Chris Owens, redshirt sophomore Tommy Brown, redshirt freshman Pierce Quick, redshirt freshman Amari Kight, freshman Javion Cohen, freshman Damieon George Jr., freshman Seth McLaughlin. (Redshirt junior Kendall Randolph is listed as a tight end/offensive lineman.)

2019 stat: Only Buffalo and Air Force allowed fewer sacks than Alabama last year, and they had the benefit of attempting passes 128 and 280 fewer times, respectively.

Storyline: There will be multiple linemen worthy of starting that will be left off the field in 2020.

With only one starter role to fill, UA has its option of whether that new starter is an interior lineman or a tackle. Neal has the body to play tackle, which could open an interior spot for Ekiyor, Owens or Dalcourt; if Neal stays at guard, Brown, Quick and Kight could all find their way into that spot.

Owens has already started games for UA, while Ekiyor and Dalcourt showed their development in limited game reps in 2019. It’s possible Brown, Quick and Kight have made the same progress without the opportunity to showcase it yet.

UA’s deep reserves of offensive linemen — which is getting deeper, with three offensive linemen who are top 50 prospects currently in its 2021 recruiting class — won’t have to wait long for playing time, with at least three of this year’s starters being seniors. Finding significant playing time before then, however, will be a tough task.

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson