Saban looking for depth at tight end

Anniston StarAugust 15, 2013 

Alabama Practice Football

VASHA HUNT/AL.comAlabama coach Nick Saban exhorts players during the team's practice Thursday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

VASHA HUNTNAM — AP

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama's tight end position has slowly becoming one of the biggest mysteries of preseason camp.

As the days go on, the tight end and H-back line gets longer and longer with offensive and defensive lineman coming over to add depth.

"Well, I think we need some guys to improve at the tight end position," Saban said.

"Brian Vogler has been pretty good and pretty consistent. We've used Jalston Fowler at H-back. He's been pretty good, pretty consistent, but I think after that we need for some guys to show some improvement and some consistency in performance."

Vogler projects to be the starter at tight end, while Fowler is the leader at H-back. But after those two, it is unclear who the Tide consider serious contenders for snaps.

There's the curious case of offensive lineman Brandon Greene.

"We experimented with Brandon Greene there," Saban said. "He certainly can do the blocking part of it well but you've got a lot to learn with some of the other parts. It will help us in goal line and short yardage."

And then there's defensive end LaMichael Fanning, who was only suppose to practice with the group for five days.

"He's got an unreal motor," Vogler said earlier this month. "It's great to see him really putting himself into learning the offense. You have some guys who get switched from defense to offense and they're like 'Oh man, it's going to take me forever to learn this.' He's asking me questions out there on the field, trying to learn the offense and get on the field. You have to respect a guy with a work ethic like that."

True freshman O.J. Howard has shown signs of ability to contribute in his first season.

"O.J. shows signs at times that he really can be athletic in the passing game," Saban said. "Then sometimes he looks like he's not playing as fast as you would like for him to because he doesn't know what he's doing."

Harrison Jones hopes to make a name for himself at the position. He's coming off back surgery and says he feels 100 percent. Jones has been working at both H-back and tight end.

"Our group is growing," Jones said. "I think everyone is doing great. ... Everyone is progressing well. It's been fun having some new guys."

But at the end of the day, the position is an unproven commodity for the Tide.

"We've just got to keep improving at that position," Saban said. "I'm hopeful that the guys we have there can do it. I just think they need to get the knowledge and experience and confidence to do it with a little more consistency."

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