Alabama's Ross ready to do his part on O-line

rlee@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 28, 2009 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — David Ross knows his job is going to change everyday and, sometimes, he’s surprised when it doesn’t.

So goes the story for the Alabama offensive line this spring.

“It fluctuates, you never know,” Ross said. “(Offensive Line) coach (Joe) Pendry is going to put you where you can best help the o-line at. That can change from a day-to-day basis or week-to-week or whatever. You never really know.”

Having lost two first team All-Americans (left tackle Andre Smith, center Antoine Caldwell) in addition to a three-year starter in right guard Marlon Davis, coach Nick Saban and his staff will have to start anew with a group that has only 41 total starts between them.

While Bama has yet to scrimmage or release a depth chart, the Tide has used a wide range of administrative groupings through the first four days of spring practice.

Ross has taken reps both at center and right guard while junior Brian Motley, a onetime nose tackle, has moved over to left guard after playing center last year. Sophomore Tyler Love has taken reps at left tackle as well as right tackle so far this spring.

“We’re trying to develop multiples in players and flexibility in players by moving them around, so we increase their flexibility in terms of how they contribute to the team,” Saban said. “It gives us more options as to how we can fit in players in the future to get the best players on the team. But to do it, you’ve got to go through the growing pains of developing those guys are various positions.”

While the Tide has no doubt done its fair share of shuffling in the early going, there are a few players who have a firm grasp on where they will suit up come the fall.

William Vlachos, who played guard at Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham, flip-flopped between guard and center during his freshman year before finally settling on center. After backing up Caldwell for the past two years, Vlachos has already drawn the praise of Saban for his play in the early going of spring ball.

“The first year (at center) it was kind of rough,” Vlachos said. “But once I settled into center and really grasped all the concepts that came with the position it clicked for sure.”

Ross, who also played guard in high school, said he’s comfortable playing the center position even though he has had no game experience at the spot.

“It’s not a problem,” Ross said. “I’ve done it throughout my career.”

Ross has taken snaps at center in practice, however, since he arrived on campus in 2006.

Fanney misses again

Linebacker Brandon Fanney missed his fourth practice of the spring Friday. Nothing has been said yet regarding his return. Players and coaches were unavailable to the media.

Wide receiver Earl Alexander and running back Roy Upchurch continue to wear black, no-contact jerseys but are still participating in full at their respective positions.

Coaching Clinic

Approximately 1,200 high school coaches attended the annual Alabama Coaching Clinic on Friday which included a visit from legendary Nebraska football coach and current Huskers’ Athletics Director Tom Osbourne.

Other speakers at the Clinic included Derek Dooley, Jason Garrett, Stan Hixon and several of the region’s championship-winning high school coaches.

Former Tide tight end and current Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome was also in attendance and took time to address the media following his presentation at the coaching clinic. He spoke on the importance of coming back to Tuscaloosa to speak to this collection of high school coaches.

“I think there were two reasons,” Newsome said. “A friend called — Nick (Saban) — and said he would like for me to come down and share and be a part of his clinic. And the second part is to show my appreciation for high school football. That is where I got my start at. I wanted to let those coaches know that they do make an impact and they have a chance to make a difference in a young man’s life.”

Additionally, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana and his son Nicholas were in attendance. Nicholas Montana, a rising senior quarterback from De La Salle High in Concord, Calif. is a highly sought after recruit who has Alabama on his list of potential schools.

Alabama will practice today at 2:30 p.m.

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