Vlachos Favored To Be At Center

Two themes stand out in discussion of the 2009 Alabama offensive line: hard work and only two positions out of five being nailed down.

One man close to claiming a starting spot when Alabama takes on Virginia Tech September 5 is center William Vlachos, who exited spring number one and has held on to that spot early in summer drills.

"We're working hard," said the 6-0, 294-pound junior. "Every single day, everybody comes to practice to try to improve. The next day, we try to not make the mistakes we made before. Everybody's getting better, and everybody's working hard."

Vlachos won't hazard a guess who may or may not be starting on the Tide line other than the two game-tested veterans, right guard Mike Johnson and right tackle Drew Davis.

"It's up to the coaches where they put people. Wherever Coach (Joe Pendry, who heads the Tide front line) puts you, you've just got to do your best at that position."

Vlachos knows life in the trenches can be tough, especially when going against a well-known, 6-5, 354-pound teammate daily.

"It's rough in there, and pretty much everything goes. Terrance Cody can get a hold of your neck sometimes, when you're trying to block him. He's a great player. We have some battles. I just try to play smart, and play hard. Stay low."

Though he's played sparingly, a starting job seems on the horizon for the weight room warrior. He seems happy about that. Said Vlachos, "I've always wanted to play here at Alabama. This is a dream come true."

Another aspect of Vlachos that is not touched upon much is the fact that, as a 2007 graduate of Mountain Brook High School, he was around for the disappearance of 2005 graduate Natalee Holloway, who never returned from a senior trip to Aruba and has been seen or heard from since. Holloway, who was just three months from using a scholarship to the University of Alabama, never got that chance.

Vlachos remembers.

"I did know her. She was two years older than me," he remembered. "Her little brother (Matt) and I are the same age. I knew her well enough to say hello to her. Hopefully, for her family's sake, they'll get that (case) figured out, so they can get some answers and some closure."

Vlachos has played in nine career games, and won the Ozzie Newsome Award after a strong spring practice in 2009.

Coming out of Mountain Brook, Vlachos was rated 19th nationally at the center position by Scout.com. He was named most valuable lineman at Mountain Brook High School, and chosen to play in the 2006 Alabama North-South All-Star game, playing every snap in the game.

His high school coach at Mountain Brook was former Tide player and current South Alabama coach, Joey Jones. His high school teammate and fellow 2007 grad, Tyler Love, is currently working as the backup to James Carpenter at left tackle.

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