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A Salute to the 2017 Seniors: Bradley Bozeman - From Greyshirt to All-American

Persistence and hard work made Bozeman an Alabama linchpin.

NCAA Football: Fresno State at Alabama
All-SEC center Bradley Bozeman brought stability and leadership to the 2017 offensive line.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

There was no mystery surrounding Bradley Bozeman’s recruitment back in 2013. The Roanoke, AL native had offers from other schools like Auburn, Clemson and Ole Miss, but he would not be swayed. He bleeds Crimson and White. So much so, that as the epic Class of 2013 was filling up, Bozeman agreed to take a greyshirt which meant deferring his enrollment until January of 2014.

However in August of 2013, the misfortune of another signee changed his refraction. Fellow freshman Darius Paige had been medically disqualified from playing. Bozeman enrolled for the fall term, was immediately put on full scholarship and joined the team for fall practice.

He wasn’t nationally rated but as a big 6-5, 310 freshman, there was tons of potential. An ESPN scout said about him, “Bozeman is a big player who can push some people around. He is a strong, wide -- and we mean wide -- bodied kid who looks like he could hide an oak tree behind him...”

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl-Alabama vs Washington Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike many other players who come to Alabama, Bozeman weight has not fluctuated much. It has increased only ten pounds but time with Dr. Cochran helped make him stronger.

After a redshirt year in 2013, Bozeman worked his way onto the field in his redshirt freshman season playing in nine games with two starts. His first taste of action was against Ole Miss in which he replaced injured starting center Ryan Kelly (you may recall that was the game that Kenyan Drake broke an ankle). It was a bit of a surprise to Tide fans to learn at this moment that this young man was the back-up center over veteran JC Hassenauer and others. He would start the next two weeks against Arkansas (graded out at 86 percent and led the team with three knockdown blocks) and Texas A&M (did not allow a sack and graded out at 90 percent). Kelly would return but Bozeman had earned extended and valuable playing time.

In 2015, he continued to back-up the All-American Kelly at center and also saw some time at guard. He would play in all 15 games, including time on the field goal and extra point teams.

With Kelly off to the Indianapolis Colts, it was Bozeman's time to shine as a full-time starter and team leader. He started all 15 games at center in his junior season, consistently grading in the 80s to low 90s and serving up knockdown blocks.

NCAA Football: SEC Media Days Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Bozeman returned to center this season as the lone senior lineman and calming presence in a sea of youngsters. He continued his fine work and has been recognized by the national press on several All-American lists as the consensus second team center. Among them are the AP, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, USA TODAY, and the Walter Camp.

He was among three finalists for the Rimington Trophy for the nation's bester center and was among those considered for the Outland Trophy for best offensive lineman.

You may recall the Gump Day JP from last week in which Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded Bozeman at 86.5 which is fifth in the nation. Players are awarded grades between 0 to 100. A grade of 85 or higher is an NFL-caliber rating. A player won't get a grade like that unless he is consistent in his play. And that sums up Bozeman. He comes to work everyday and gives it his all. There are no off-days. He should carry that mentality on to the next level where he should have a nice 12-14 year career for some lucky NFL team.