Line Change

It is no easy task to move from the defensive line to the offensive line. For Justin Britt, who began making that move last spring, the transition has been complicated. Britt had been expected to go from defensive tackle to offensive right guard. But a couple of days into spring practice, Britt was making another move, from right guard to left guard.

Alabama Offensive Line Coach Bob Connelly said, "We're trying to get our five best" on the offensive front. "We're still trying to mix and match."

Starting Justin Britt at right guard was not capricious. After all, Alabama already had a right guard, B.J. Stabler who had started there in 2005. Logic would suggest that it would be better to make just one position move (Britt) rather than two (Britt and Stabler). But Stabler had injured a knee and it was thought that he might have less stress on that knee if he moved to left guard; thus the opening at right guard for Britt.

Britt, a 6-4 1/2, 290-pound junior, had been a regular on the defensive line the past two years, although he missed Bama's Cotton Bowl appearance in order to undergo surgery on his shoulder at the end of the 2005 season. In the off-season he met with Tide coaches and the decision was made to begin working him into the offensive line. Because of his shoulder rehabilitation he had only a few days work in spring practice.

Britt is not a complete stranger to the offensive line. As a prep all-star at Cullman he had played both offensive and defensive line. By moving to the offensive side, he follows more closely in the footsteps of his brothers, former Tide tackle Wesley and former Bama guard and center Taylor.

After a couple of days practice, it was decided that Stabler was more comfortable back at his right guard position. And so Britt had to make another transition, from the right guard spot he had been learning over the summer to left guard.

"I'm making the adjustments," Britt said. "It's nothing a few practices won't take care of. Instead of the right hand on the ground, at left guard you put the left hand down. And the (foot) stagger is the opposite. Probably the hardest thing is the footwork. It's just a matter of getting used to it. The assignments are the same, only opposite."

Connelly said, "Justin is going to be a work in progress. He's going to get better every day. His biggest challenge is pass protection. I'm not worried about him knocking a tackle off the line in run situations. He's a tough football player. He's making strides."

In announcing the move, Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said that he expected Britt to bring a toughness to the offensive line of scrimmage.

Britt said he's not sure who came up with the idea to move him to the offensive line. "I'm ready for anything," he said. "I'm here to do what they say. When they said ‘Offense,' I said ‘Yes sir.'"


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