Moving On Up

Thanks to the sidelining of Left Tackle Laremy Tunsil and regular Right Tackle Fahn Cooper sliding over to take his place, redshirt freshman Sean Rawlings has been thrust into the starting role at RT the first two games. It went well for a first-timer, but is he ready for Bama?

Sean Rawlings has been pleased with his progress to this point in the season and with his first two career starts under his belt, but he's about to face - if things don't change in the next day or two in the Tunsil drama - a different breed of football player in the defensive linemen at Alabama.

Is he ready for the step up?

"I feel good," he began. "I have worked some things out of my game from the first two games and we are rolling along pretty good on offense, so I feel good.

"There were a couple of times I didn't get my across properly on outside zone and my landmarking with my first step was not correct, but I think I've have worked those things out. My pad level was a little high in the second game, so that's something else I am working on this week."

Yes, but is he ready for the step up? He has certainly been "warned."

"Justin (Bell) and I just talked about that. He is telling all the young guys what a step up it's going to be and how we have to be more physical and focused," Sean continued. "The heat is going to turn up so I am going to have to turn up with it.

"A lot of it is about pad level and staying low with those big guys. They are really big and strong and you have to hang with them. I'm not nervous about it - I'm excited. I had butterflies the first game, but I'm over that now. Going into Bryant-Denny Stadium is nothing but excitement."

One thing that has helped prepare Rawlings for the moment is the fact that he has faced, on a daily basis, a defensive line on his own team considered by most as good as Alabama's.

"Every day we go against the best defense in the country, we believe. That helps a lot," noted Sean. "I talk to them every time after our pass rush drill and ask them what I did right and wrong and they are very helpful. We work with each other to make each other better and those guys - Fadol Bron, Channing Ward, Robert Nkemdiche and more - have all made me better by going against them every day.

"Bama is really big and strong. In passing downs, they have good rushers off the edge and they are just good across the board. But as I said, we go against a great defense every day, so I am not in awe."

Rawlings has paid his dues to get to this point, even though it is a bit sooner than anticipated. The normal course would have been to back up Cooper this year and then take over RT the rest of his career or, maybe, move to center once Robert Conyers and Ben Still are gone.

"I had a good redshirt year in the weight room. Coach (Paul) Jackson and his staff get you ready. I still have more strength to gain, but I am a lot stronger than I was when I got here. I felt like, even though I missed a lot of spring training with a broken arm, that I could contribute this year and be comfortable doing it," he explained. "I didn't see this coming, but I have prepared myself to play."

So, is Sean Rawlings ready for the "step up?"

He believes he is.

He is about to find out. . . .and he can't wait.

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