The Search For 11 To Go Both Ways

Football is quite specialized. There are a few players who are capable of playing more than one position, including some who can play either offense or defense. Once upon a time, in the era of one platoon football, most players had to play on both offense and defense. A number of rules went in and out of college football until the current free substitution system was enacted in the early 1960s.

In the mid-1970s, Alabama Trainer Sang Lyda and I were watching a Bama pre-season practice when he asked me to pick 11 guys who could make up a one platoon football team. Since then I have done that every year.

There are a number of players who have played both offense and defense, at least in high school. That was brought home late last week when Trey DePriest, the 6-2, 230-pound linebacker from Springfield, Ohio, announced for Alabama. His coach pointed out that DePriest plays about 85 per cent of the game because in addition to being a linebacker, he has been a running back, and even a kickoff man.

In making our one-platoon team, the first name we wrote down was Mark Ingram. If you have the Heisman Trophy winner available, he is going to be on the team.

One method of choosing this team would be simply to get the best 11 players regardless of position, but the rules of football require a certain number of offensive linemen, which must be taken into account.

Obviously, what must be accomplished is finding players who can play both an offensive position and a defensive position. As is often the case in real football, the alignment may have to be adjusted to fit the personnel.

For our one platoon team we elected to have an offense with two running backs and two wide receivers with a tight end. Our defense is a 4-3.

Although quarterback is the most important position on the field, nothing happens until there has been a good exchange from the center to the quarterback (whether he is under center or in spread formation), and the second person we chose for the team is center William Vlachos. To be honest, we considered going with Brian Motley, who enters fall practice reported as the number two center. Motley also has played on the defensive line for Bama.

As for the quarterback, as much as we would like to have Greg McElroy, the Most Valuable Player of the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, we couldn't think of a defensive position for McElroy. We went with B.J. Scott, a high school quarterback star who is also an outstanding defensive back.

Other players we knew we wanted to find a place for included Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower, and Mark Barron from defense and Julio Jones from the offense. We also wanted an experienced left tackle and took James Carpenter.

Here's how we worked out our team:

Wide Receiver/Linebacker Julio Jones

Wide Receiver/Safety Mark Barron

Left Tackle/Defensive Tackle James Carpenter

Right Tackle/Defensive End Marcell Dareus

Left Guard/LInebacker Courtney Upshaw

Right Guard/Defensive End Barrett Jones

Center/Defensive Tackle William Vlachos

Tight End/Linebacker Dont'a Hightower

Quarterback/Cornerback B.J. Scott

Running Back/Strong Safety Mark Ingram

Running Back/Linebacker Trent Richardson

We don't concern ourselves with kicking specialists on this one-platoon team.

There were many, many players strongly considered for the one-platoon team in addition to Motley and McElroy.

Preston Dial gives the impression of one who could be a fierce player on defense, as he is on offense. Undra Billingsley and Michael Williams were good candidates.

It was hard to omit the team's strongest player, nose tackle Josh Chapman.

Alfred McCullough is a solid offensive tackle who was winner of the Dixie Howell Award as a defensive end in the spring game a few years ago.

Brandon Moore and Kerry Murphy have both stayed on the defensive line, but both were considered offensive line prospects at one time.

A couple of years ago we selected Earl Alexander as the quarterback on our one-platoon team since he had been a high school quarterback.

In the spring, Bama worked both Brandon Gibson and Kendall Kelly at safety, along with their wide receiver positions. Chris Jordan is a linebacker who was formerly a running back.

Nick Saban is the coach of our team.

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