Left Guard Has Top Player Back

Most Alabama attention on the offensive line has been on the left tackle position, left vacant by the graduation of James Carpenter. Crimson Tide fans asked to name the four returning starters in the offensive line have no problem with three of them. William Vlachos and Barrett Jones are three-year starters, all-star candidates, and frequent team spokesmen. D.J. Fluker wears size 22 1/2 shoes.

So those are easy.

That doesn't mean the fourth returning Alabama offensive line starter isn't at least as good as those three. Chance Warmack just doesn't have the reputation of the others. Alabama nose tackle Josh Chapman, who has gone up against his share of good offensive linemen in Crimson Tide practices and in games against opponents, thinks that Warmack is outstanding.

"Chance Warmack is one of the toughest blockers I've ever gone up against," Chapman said.

Warmack got an early start at Bama, finishing at Westlake in Atlanta in December 2008 and entering The University in time for spring drills in 2009. He played as a back-up to All-America Mike Johnson on the Crimson Tide's 2009 national championship team before taking over last year as a sophomore.

Alabama's coaching staff selected him for player of the week recognition in the Duke, Florida, and Mississippi State games, and the Southeastern Conference named him offensive lineman of the week for his performance in Bama's 31-6 romp over the Gators.

This year he was selected second team pre-season All-SEC.

Warmack, 6-3, 320, is one of Bama's strongest players.

The big question about left guard is who might be Warmack's back-up.

Alfred McCullough has been a true team player for Alabama. The 6-2, 311-pound senior came to Alabama as a defensive end. After a redshirt season in 2007, he did not play in 2008 while making the transition to offense. The past two years he has stepped in as a back-up at both right and left tackles, including starting four games at right tackle when D.J. Fluker was injured.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban has said that he thinks McCullough is more suited to guard, and there is a possibility he could back up Warmack. Part of that depends on what happens at right guard, where Barrett Jones has been a two-year starter. If Jones moves to left tackle, where he finished up in the spring, the right guard spot becomes an area of need.

If Jones stays at guard, McCullough could move back to tackle. And if Jones stays at right guard, the men who were listed there following spring practice could be involved at left guard for depth. They are Anthony Steen, a 6-3, 292-pound sophomore, and John Michael Boswell, a 6-5, 291-pound senior who has also been a tackle.

Most of the attention on incoming offensive linemen has been on tackle Arie Kouandjio, but the freshman class also includes Isaac Luatua, a 6-2, 299-pound guard from La Mirada, California. Luatua was a three-star selection by Scout.com and is capable of playing guard or center.

This is one in a series looking at positions on Alabama's football team for the 2011 season.

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