McElroy, Vlachos are also roommates
By MICHAEL CASAGRANDE
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — They are partners in a dying art.
As more and more offenses move to the spread, shotgun snaps are replacing the old-fashioned under-center snap.
That’s not the case at Alabama. Not with its traditional pro-style offense.
And there should be no concern about the connection between the two first-year players who execute the critical exchange that begins each offensive play.
Quarterback Greg McElroy and center William Vlachos aren’t just teammates, they’re roommates and good friends too.
Neither have started a college game, so Saturday’s opener against seventh-ranked Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome and a national television audience will certainly test their connection.
They aren’t too worried about that part, though.
Vlachos, a Mountain Brook product who played under current South Alabama coach Joey Jones in high school, travels with his bunkmate to his home in Texas once a year. This past summer’s journey to the Dallas suburb of Southlake also meant catching the inaugural event in the new Cowboy Stadium, a George Strait concert.
Away from the game, Vlachos calls McElroy “easy-going.”
“He is a really good guy,” Vlachos said. “When he’s up here, he’s completely business, and he works as hard as anybody I know. And he’s one of the smartest guys I know.”
With most of the pressure landing on the quarterback, Vlachos echoed the confidence teammates have displayed in their signal caller.
“Greg is a great leader in the huddle; he’s very confident,” Vlachos said. “He’s going to get on you if you don’t do it right. He’s a strong voice in the huddle, and everyone listens to him.”
Without a clean delivery, McElroy’s abilities are wasted.
So the pressure is on the man who initiates each and every play from scrimmage.
The player Vlachos is replacing on the line was also known for his verbal skills. Antoine Caldwell, known as “loud mouth” and now with the Texans, spent some time on the phone with his former understudy the other night talking football.
The new guy on the line isn’t following Caldwell’s lead when it comes to his on-field demeanor.
“I’m not as loud as he is,” Vlachos said. “Hopefully, I can become as good of a leader as he was. That’s something he doesn’t get enough credit for. He was the leader of our team last year, I thought.”
When asked about Vlachos, returning right tackle Drew Davis described him as a “no nonsense” guy who is “all business” on the field.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and weighing 294 pounds, Vlachos is 11 pounds lighter than Caldwell and an inch shorter. Any perceived size disadvantage is lost on the center. He says it’s never caused him problems in the past.
His work ethic and speed are the equalizers, said Vlachos who played in seven games last season including the Sugar Bowl loss to Utah.
Coach Nick Saban compliments his power and hand placement as a blocker — an important factor considering the multi-step job he has on every play.
It’s a job that starts with the delivery and continues with protection.