As Yamez made note of earlier in the diaries, Antoine Caldwell is indeed returning for his senior season at Alabama. At a press conference earlier today, Caldwell told the media that he would return for his senior season, and put the NFL Draft on the backburner for another year.
The return of Caldwell could be a key factor for Alabama in 2008. The offensive line, though improved in 2007, still has a long way to go, and Caldwell can be a key cog. At this point the expected emergence of William Vlachos at center and Patrick Crump at guard have been very well documented. The flexibility of Caldwell to play guard and tackle could allow both of those players into the starting line-up, all the while keeping himself and Andre Smith in familiar positions.
The most interesting alignment, I think, would to be to have Andre Smith and Caldwell at left tackle and left guard, respectively, Vlachos at center, Crump at right guard, and Tyler Love at right tackle. I understand Love is a true freshman, but he has the size and the technical soundness to start as a true freshman, and frankly I think there is a good chance of it happening.
Regardless of the position possibilities on the offensive line, though, the return of Caldwell marks a major positive for our chances in 2008. To begin with, he's one of the better offensive linemen around, and we would have struggled to replace him. Just as valuable, however, is the fact that he will provide both experience and leadership to a team that will be featuring many freshmen in prominent roles.