Tide's twin towers at tackle love to compete

Not every competition has to have a winner. <br><br>Wesley Britt and Evan Mathis are the starting tackles on the offensive line. They love to compete against one another in anything. But what they won't always do is admit who wins.

Call it the trait of being humble. But the two love any type of competition. "Competition, it drives everything," Mathis said. "It's always good fun. We try to beat each other, knowing that competition will make us better players in everything."

Britt's a mammoth 6-8, 324-pound quick tackle. Mathis stands at 6-5, weighing 297 pounds.

So who's faster? One would think Mathis, since he's not quite as hefty. But after suffering a stress fracture in his left leg during spring practice, Mathis has slowed up a little bit.

The bar actually bends slightly, as Britt works in the weight room.

"We're probably tied right now," Mathis said. "When I came off the surgery, I lost a couple tenths off the time. I'm trying to get back more so I can beat him."

Who's stronger? "I can bench more," Mathis said. "But he kills me on the squats."

Britt started every game during the 2001 season, totaling 636 snaps. He finished with 107 knock-down blocks, averaging 9.7+ per night. Mathis took over as starter versus South Carolina, and held onto the job for the rest of the season. Starting three fewer games than Britt, Mathis totaled 76 knock-down blocks on the season, averaging 9.5 per start.

The competition doesn't stop on the field, but stretches off the field into the classroom and in the social life.

Who's smarter? "We're taking the same classes (pre-business), always competing and helping each other," Britt said. "When it comes to deep conversations, we're always on the same page. We make about the same grades."

Who attracts the prettier women? "We both get our share of girls," Britt said.

One way of conditioning that the two use is by way of the mat. Well, in their case, it's usually the carpet. Mathis was an outstanding wrestler at Homewood High School, winning the 2000 state heavyweight title.

A heavyweight wrestling champion in high school, Mathis was voted the Most Improved Lineman, following spring practice.

But Britt gives him a good test when the two wrestle.

"We've taken it to the carpet many times," Mathis said. "We've put a few holes in the wall, all in good fun. That's some good conditioning right there."

Whatever type of conditioning the two have participated in, it has clearly worked as the two have started nearly every game in their careers. Britt was more highly regarded coming out of high school, while Mathis was projected to be a backup to Dante Ellington (and at center) during his first couple of years.

But the tables turned. As Ellington struggled through the first three games in head coach Dennis Franchione's first year, Mathis replaced him in the starting lineup. He hasn't started a game since, and will redshirt this season working to get his academics in order, giving Mathis another chance to shine.

"He's a hard worker," Britt said, of Mathis. "Someone told him Dante Ellington was a freshman All-American and SEC player of the year. Someone told him he didn't have a chance.

"Well, he came out here and worked his butt off and beat him out. Evan knows what it takes. He comes out here with a purpose to get better. He will do whatever it takes. He's the best athlete on the offensive line."

At the end of last season, Britt and Justin Smiley (the third roommate/referee) were named Freshman All-SEC. But the twin tackles have three more years of good competition ahead of them on the football field and within the team.

"Between me, him, and Smiley, we're the most competitive people on the team," Britt said.

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