What football coach wouldn't want a two-year starter, and a senior, on his offensive line? It appears that Mike Shula and his staff aren't content to hold a pat hand. This summer it was learned by our Mitch Dobbs that Tatum is going to get some unexpected competition. B.J. Stabler, who started at right guard last fall as a freshman, said that he has been told he may be working at right tackle this fall.
Stabler, a 6-4, 295-pounder, was Freshman All-SEC last year and is considered a star in the making. But is Alabama robbing Peter to pay Paul?
Bama's coaches should feel confident about the move. Justin Britt, who played on the defensive front last year, was signed expecting to be an offensive lineman, like his brothers, Wesley and Taylor. Britt, 6-4, 294, got a little work at right guard in the spring and he'll work there when Bama begins fall practice August 8.
Still, Tatum, 6-8, 290, will go into fall camp number one. After an inconsistent sophomore season in 2004 in which he probably led the league in holding penalties, Tatum was solid last year.
Shula has made it clear that he wants good competition with quality performers at every position. The move of Stabler to compete with Tatum satisfies that requirement.
If Stabler has to return to his right guard spot, the top back-up would likely be Trent Davidson, 6-5, 270. Davidson saw action in 2004 as a true freshman at tight end, then had to miss last year with foot surgery. In the spring he was shifted to right tackle. He seemed to have a little difficulty early, but he is a good blocker and should be a solid lineman.
Drew Davis has had some practice time at Alabama. He went through bowl practice as a grayshirt in 2004, participated in 2005 spring practice, was redshirted last season while participating on the scout team, then went through spring practice this year. And after all that he is a freshman going into the 2006 season. Davis is 6-6, 290 pounds.
Also at 6-6, 290, is another freshman candidate. Although assignments have not been announced for incoming freshmen, it is possible that Taylor Pharr could be at right tackle. Pharr was rated the state's number three offensive line prospect last year, and considering that number one was Andre Smith and number two was David Ross—two of the best in the nation—being third is not shabby. Pharr has great strength and we have penciled him in as a potential right tackle candidate.