Ask anyone the question: Who makes the offensive calls and handles the ball on every play? A reasonable answer is quarterback, but he’s not the only one. The ball doesn’t levitate to the QB. The center has to make the snap, and the center is also the man who has to recognize the defense and make the quick calls at the line of scrimmage for blocking schemes.
Alabama has had excellent play at center in recent years with the likes of William Vlachos, Barrett Jones, and for the past three years Ryan Kelly. Coach Nick Saban and staff will have a new man at that position in 2016.
The Crimson Tide opens spring practice next month (probably March 11) with one man who has some game experience listed as a candidate and another who might move into the mix from the guard spot. And, as has been pointed out, Alabama linemen historically work at more than one position, so it is likely that a player thought to be a tackle or guard
will also get a look at center.
The heir apparent would seem to be J.C. Hassenauer, a 6-2, 295-pound junior who was Kelly’s back-up in the 2015 national championship season. Although he has appeared in only eight games (including extensive action in Bama’s win over Texas A&M in College Station last fall), he has been mentioned frequently by Tide players for his performance.
Hassenauer came to Alabama with high expectations, ranked the number one center prospect in the nation as he chose the Tide over his homestate Minnesota and Vanderbilt.
Josh Casher, a 6-1, 294-pound sophomore, is one of those linemen who has shown he can play both guard and center, though he had very little play after a 2014 redshirt freshman.
Brandon Kennedy is a 6-2, 290-pound redshirt freshman who went through spring practice last year, but was held out in2015. He has been listed primarily as a guard prospect out of high school, but has worked at center.
There is also the possibility that guard candidate Bradley Bozeman, 6-5, 320, junior, will be an option at center. He started two games in relief of Kelly in 2014 and did very well, but was used as a back-up right guard last year. He played in nine games as a freshman in 2015 and in every game last year.
This is one of those positions where the A-Day Game on April 16 might provide a glimpse at how the spring practice competition has gone.
NEXT: Our look at all football positions prior to spring practice moves to the defense with a look at nose tackles.