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Previewing the Crimson Tide: Offensive Line

Even though the line loses some starters from last season, the rotation has been pretty much known since Spring practice.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

A page turns for Mario Cristobal as he enters a third season at Alabama as offensive line coach.

He guided a front line that blocked for 484.5 yards per game and 206.6 rushing yards per contest last season. The Crimson Tide allowed just 16 sacks in 2014, an average of 1.14 sacks a game.

Austin Shepherd, Arie Kouandjio and Leon Brown all took to the National Football League, but the Crimson expects for this year's group to be more balanced.

THE LEADERS: OC Ryan Kelly (senior), LT Cam Robinson (sophomore)

Kelly has proven to be an exceptional pass blocker. The senior missed only seven assignments in 806 snaps last season, which resulted in a 99.1 percent success rate. He did not give up a sack.

He's blocked for 16 100-yard rushing performances in his career, yet there are times when Kelly gets confused in setting the tone in the run game. He has to maintain his blocks and create leverage at the second level of defenses this season. Kelly has been named to numerous preseason award watch list, including the Remington Trophy (nation's top center).

Robinson was taken off the field in the first week of fall practice after hurting his knee, but has returned and is doing well. The 6-foot-6, 326-pound sophomore was stellar in 2014, surrendering three sacks in 861 snaps. He dominated the left side of Alabama's offensive line and blocked for 35 touchdowns. Robinson earned Freshman All-American honors from numerous sites, including Sporting News and Football Writers Association of America.


Senior Dominick Jackson enters his second year at Alabama, after transferring from College of San Mateo (Calif). He saw action in eight games last season as a reserve right tackle. At 6-foot-6, 315 pounds, Jackson has quick feet and good striking with his hands. He should be able to protect the blind side of whomever Alabama has under center this season.

Bradley Bozeman and Alphonse "Shank" Taylor are battling for a starting spot at right guard, but Bozeman has the edge. Bozeman, a sophomore, played in nine games last year as a redshirt freshman. He filled in admirably for Ryan Kelly, after he suffered a knee injury against Ole Miss. Bozeman scratched out two starts against Arkansas (center) and Texas A&M (right guard).

He blocked for 298 rushing yards against the Aggies. Taylor, a junior, has logged action in 20 career games. He can at either left or right guard, but looks to be behind Bozeman for now.

Redshirt freshman Ross Pierschbacher seems to have left guard locked up. A native of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Pierschbacher was considered one of the top offensive line prospects nationally, according to ESPN and He has exceptional footwork, despite his size at 6-foot-4, 298 pounds. Pierschbacher edged out Taylor for left guard back in March.


Sophomore J.C. Hassenauer is behind Ryan Kelly at center. He got his feet wet in one game last season against Texas A&M, but has a lot of potential moving forward. Hassenauer, 6-foot-2, 295 pounds, was one of the top center prospects nationally from Woodbury, Minn.

Multiple recruiting sites, including 247Sports and ranked him as the No.1 center in the nation. He was the No.2 center, according to ESPN's recruiting network.

Korren Kirven has been switched from offense to defense numerous times, but the junior will drop anchor as an offensive lineman this year. Kirven now works behind Cam Robinson as the team's second-string left tackle. He's played in eight career games as a reserve nose tackle.

Brandon Greene has been moved from tight end to right tackle, behind Dominick Jackson. He started on the offensive line last season, until a lack of depth at tight end moved him. A 24-yard reception in Alabama's 20-13 overtime win against LSU is Greene's most memorable play.

Senior Issac Luatua will back up Ross Pierschbacher at left guard. At 6-foot-2, 315 pounds, Luatua has played in 14 career games, including six last season.

Alabama's projected O-Line in 2015 (left to right)

RT Dominick Jackson: 6-foot-6, 315 pounds

RG Bradley Bozeman: 6-foot-5, 320 pounds

OC Ryan Kelly: 6-foot-5, 297 pounds

LG Ross Pierschbacher: 6-foot-4, 298 pounds

LT Cam Robinson: 6-foot-6, 326 pounds


Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine and SB Nation. You can "like" him on Facebook or "follow" him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.