Being an offensive guard would probably be more effective than the Witness Protection Program for someone who didn’t want to be recognized. Guards never touch the football and unlike offensive tackles, who are out on edge blockers, guards are buried in the middle of a mass of big bodies on every play. Other than the occasional fumble recovery or tackle after a pass interception, there are no guard statistics other than the grades given by coaches.
Alabama guards have a tough act to follow because in the early 1970s John Hannah played the position, and has been lauded as perhaps the greatest offensive guard in history.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban has an appreciation for the job that guards do. “It’s not like tackle,” he said. “Things happen very fast at the guard position.”
A cynic would suggest that it’s so fast that no one sees it.
Nevertheless, each week when the Alabama coaching staff announces top players of the previous week’s game, one has an appreciation for the ones who have done well. Our series looking at the top players at every position during the Saban Era, 2007-15, includes some outstanding players at offensive guard.
Chance Warmack was a three-year starter at left guard for the Tide, 2010-2012, which included two national championship teams. He was first team All-America as a senior and was a first round NFL draft choice by the Tennessee Titans in 2013.
Mike Johnson was a starting tackle in 2007, but moved to right guard for the 2008 and national championship 2009 seasons, and was All-America in 2009. He was a third round draft choice of the Atlanta Falcons in 2010.
Another All-America guard was Arie Koundjio, who started in 2013 and 2014, and was All-America in his second season at left guard. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins.
Those three were the standouts in that order.
Others who have started at guard in Saban Era are Marlon Davis at left guard in 2007-08; Anthony Steen at right guard in 2012 and co-starter with Leon Brown in 2013, and Brown was at the position in 2013; Justin Britt in 2007; Alfred McCullough in 2011.
Ross Pierschbacher, an upcoming sophomore who may move to center, was Bama’s starting left guard last year, and Alphonse Taylor, who will be a senior this year, was the 2015 starter at right guard.
Barrett Jones started at right guard in 2009 and 2010, and was All-America at left tackle in 2011 and center in 2012, and was recognized as a center for this series.