It took awhile for B.J. Stabler to establish himself as the number one man at right guard last year for Alabama. Taylor Britt started at three different offensive line positions in 2005, including at right guard. Marlon Davis, who was a true freshman last season, also had a start at right guard.
But now Britt has graduated and Davis has moved to left guard, where he is first team after spring practice, taking over for Antoine Caldwell. Caldwell had moved from left guard to center for the Cotton Bowl and stayed in that spot through the spring.
The offensive line will continue to be a question mark in pre-season analyses of Bama football, but Stabler, a Grove Hill native, appears to be a solid member of that unit.
Stabler, 6-4, 295, had an injury-free spring, which is always a help. In pre-season camp in 2004 he injured a finger and had to undergo surgery, resulting in him missing his first season at Bama. Last year he suffered a knee injury in fall drills, but was back in time to play in the second game and he took over as starter in the third contest. He started the rest of the year and was in on 609 snaps, including a season-high 69 against South Carolina. He was third team Freshman All-America by CollegeFootballNews.com.
In th spring, the back-up spot was manned by Scott Deaton, who was a true freshman last season in a redshirt year. Deaton, 6-5, 270, has four years of eligibility remaining. He is on a Bryant Scholarship because his father, Ken Deaton, played for the Crimson Tide.
Deaton, from Oak Mountain, was a left tackle in high school, a right tackle on last year's Alabama scout team, and moved to right guard in the spring.
Although Justin Britt, who has moved from the defensive line to the offensive line, could work at right guard, the 6-4, 294-pound junior is listed as a left guard in a preliminary depth chart. Britt missed almost all of spring practice after having late-2005 shoulder surgery.
Editor's Note: The 2006 starter is almost a sure thing at a number of Alabama football positions, mostly spots where starters return from Bama's 2005 football team that went 10-2. But one thing that increases the productivity of a team is having quality competition at every position. The Crimson Tide is not yet to that point, but there are positions where the battle is on. This is another in our look at the battle for positions for 2006.