Barrett Jones Has More To Learn

One would expect Barrett Jones to pick things up pretty quickly. On Saturday the upcoming Crimson Tide junior picked up his undergraduate degree, missing individual drills in practice for the ceremony.

Since the end of Alabama spring football practice, Barrett Jones has also had to think about the possibility of picking up the assignments at a new position. A two-year starter at right guard, Jones is now getting a look at left tackle, the one position on the Crimson Tide offensive line where a starter did not return.

Although Bama Coach Nick Saban has talked about the opportunities for offensive linemen, there probably is only one oppotunity. Three-year starting center William Vlachos is an All-America candidate and D.J. Fluker at right tackle and Chance Warmack at left guard were both pre-season All-Southeastern Conference second team selections. Anthony Steen has appeared to be the leading candidate to play right guard if Jones goes to left tackle.

Jones, 6-5, 311, is also an All-America candidate. He was a freshman All-America and has also been an Academic All-America.

Jones isn't worried about where he plays this year. "I see my role as playing wherever Coach Saban and Coach Soutland (new Offensive Line Coach Jeff Soutland) tell me to play," Jones said. "I'm not trying to be sarcastic. I don't know and I don't care either way. I feel great about our football team and I want to give us the best chance to win. If it's at right guard, great, and if it's at left tackle, great. I'm just excited to play wherever. I'm just happy to be playing."

In the limited time sports reporters watch practice, Jones has been only at left tackle, the position held last year by James Carpenter. Carpenter was a first round draft choice following his senior season.

Journalists and others will get to watch practice Sunday afternoon, the one open practice of the Crimson Tide. It begins at 2:30 p.m. CDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium and will last about two hours. A brief autograph session with players and coaches will follow the practice, which will be Bama's third of fall camp.

Alabama opens the season September 3 hosting Kent State.

Prior to this season, Alabama offensive linemen worked at various positions under now retired Joe Pendry. That experience has helped Jones as he works at left tackle.

"Once you know one position on offense, with the exception of center it's not hard to pick up another," Jones said. "The biggest thing I worked on in the summer was my (pass) set lines. A huge difference between guard and tackle is the pass sets and the angles you take. Usually when you're playing guard, you don't have to go very far to find the guy who is rushing the passer. But when you're playing tackle, it could be a corner, it could be a safety, it could be Courtney Upshaw coming off the edge, it could be a bigger guy."

Jones sees potential for the offensive line. "We have great depth on our offensive line, as much depth as as we've had since I've been here," he said. "We've got a lot of great young guys and a lot of guys who have been here. I think that promotes competition, which makes you better. We have guys who have been here who are being pushed by younger guys, which makes you better."

Which younger guys?

"A lot of them," Jones said. "I've been really impressed with all three of the freshmen who have come in here – Cyrus Kouandji, Ryan Kelly, and Isaac Luatua. All three of them have done a great job of picking it up quickly and learning. I've been really impressed with how much they want to learn, how much they have been up here (in the football meeting rooms), how much they have asked me questions, which I love. Asking me about the offense and all sorts of things. That's really what you want to see from the young guys. How much does he want to learn and how important is it to him."

Jones said he doesn't expect many changes because of the undergraduate degree he has already earned. "I'm still going to be here one or two more years," he said.

Say that again? ONE or two?

"Just kind of an estimate. Just kind of a general statement."

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