Chad Lindsay making first start for Crimson Tide

Junior center will replace an injured Ryan Kelly Saturday vs. Georgia State

Anniston StarOctober 1, 2013 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- From the time Chad Lindsay stepped onto the football as a seventh grader, his high school coach says Lindsay "took great pride in being an offensive lineman."

Mark Schmid coached Lindsay at The Woodlands (Texas) High and saw him mature from an overgrown middle schooler to one of the top interior offensive line talents in the nation.

"A lot of times kids come in your program and they fancy themselves as a receiver, running back or quarterback," Schmid said. "Chad knew from the moment he stepped on the field as a 7th grader that he was an offensive lineman, and he loved every minute of being an offensive lineman."

Lindsay was a three-year starter at The Woodlands and built his reputation on being more physical than anyone who lined up against him.

"He was always ahead of the curve," Schmid said. "He was gritty with a defensive mentality playing offensive line. He loved driving his man into the ground."

Among others, Lindsay received offers from Oklahoma, LSU, Auburn, Georgia and Notre Dame, but ultimately choose the Tide. A January 2010 enrollee, Lindsay was the top offensive guard prospect in the nation, according to ESPNU.

Now a 6-foot-2, 302-pound redshirt junior, Lindsay is slated to make his first career start at center for the Tide on Saturday when Georgia State visits Bryant-Denny Stadium for homecoming at 11:21 a.m.

Lindsay stepped in for starter Ryan Kelly, who went down in the first half of Saturday's game against Ole Miss with what Tide coach Nick Saban called a "stretched MCL."

Lindsay said the transition was easy because he always "prepares like a starter." But what was the hardest part of the job?

"Just making sure everybody knows what to do on every single play," Lindsay said. "Make sure everyone has communicated and everyone is prepared and ready to roll on the play."

Lindsay's father, Duff Lindsay, played offensive line at Mississippi State from 1977-1980, which gave him an SEC tie growing up. Duff was a senior on the 1980 team, the only Bulldog team that defeated Paul "Bear" Bryant in 25 tries.

Lindsay said his father was happy for him after the game.

"He just said good job and everything, way to step in there and step up," he said. "It was cool to talk to him after the game."

Lindsay played well in place of Kelly and earned praise from Saban. Saban said Lindsay made all the offensive line calls while in the game. Along with right guard Anthony Steen, Lindsay had the key block to spring running back T.J. Yeldon for his 68-yard touchdown scamper.

"I think it speaks well for Chad, who did do a good job when he went into the game, that he was well-prepared," Saban said during his Monday news conference. "And when he got an opportunity, he was able to take advantage of it in a positive way, which was helpful to the team, but it was also invaluable to his development as a player as well."

Added Steen, "It was a different feeling but when Chad came in there -- I told Kelly (Sunday) morning when he was getting treatment, I went over and talked to him and told him that the first play of the game Chad, on the first play of the game, his eyes were wide open and I could just tell he was nervous but the second and third play he was fine and after a couple of plays I didn't miss a beat with Chad than I would with Kelly. He seemed to do fine to me."

Lindsay said life has been "very good" for the past few days since he stepped in during significant game action and had an impact.

"I've definitely had some family call me that I haven't talked to in a long time," Lindsay said. "That was definitely good to hear from people. Stuff like that, nothing unusual."

This spring, Schmid said he and Lindsay talked when Lindsay was home for The Woodlands spring game. Schmid recalled Lindsay saying he was one of Alabama's "top-six offensive lineman" and that he would take advantage of an opportunity if one ever arose.

Heading into the season, all signs pointed to Kelly being the clear cut starter, but Saban said the competition between Kelly and Lindsay was closer than most thought.

"Chad has been in the program. He's a hard worker," Saban said. "He's a strong guy, very smart, understands. There was pretty good competition between those two guys as to who would be the starter. We have a lot of confidence in Chad, that he can go in there and do the job because he's done a good job for us in the past."

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