TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- There’s a reason Alphonse Taylor stands out on a football field.
When a player stands at 6-foot-5 and carries around 340 pounds of muscle, he’s bound to catch your eye.
So when Taylor, the largest player on the University of Alabama roster, was suddenly lined up along the offensive line and not across from it on Wednesday, people took notice -- not that he didn't look the part.
Taylor, who was one of eight early enrollees at UA, may be as green as a shamrock, but he certainly doesn’t show it. In a sea of 300-pounders, the 20-year-old with a smile as wide as his biceps is a natural fit. He’s agile and picks up the game quickly, according to starting left guard Chance Warmack, who referred to Taylor simply as “big man.”
“I’m excited for him to play guard, man,” Warmack said. “He’s an exciting player. He knows a lot already. He came in with a positive attitude. I want to take him up under my wing and help him as much as I can.”
Talking to Warmack, it was clear he was happier to have Taylor on his side and not having to go up against him in practice. The two went head-to-head a few times on the field and that was enough for Warmack to get a feel for how athletic and gifted Taylor is.
“He’s a really powerful guy, a really big guy,” Warmack said. “He’s going to be really special some day -- sooner than you think. I’m looking forward to ... having him on the O-line.”
Taylor, who played both ways at Davidson High in Mobile, Ala., spent the first 10 practices of the spring at nose guard, playing backup to Jesse Williams.
Coach Nick Saban said the move to the offensive line was “just a trial,” but given the need for depth along the line, don’t be surprised if Taylor gets more looks on offense.
“I think we have a chance to have a really good offensive line,” Saban said. “I think we need to have more players develop on the offensive line so that we have the kind of depth on the offensive line that we need.”
A new season already
It may just be spring practice, but that doesn’t mean it’s not too early to look ahead to the regular season -- even if it is five months away.
On Wednesday, Saban talked about getting a head start on preparing for next year’s challenges.
“Usually at this time in the spring, we do spend time on next year's opponents, especially new opponents,” Saban said. “We have done that the last two days. Sometimes that creates a little bit of confusion with younger players, but we'd much rather have the confusion now so there's a little better resource when we have to play these people that we're unaccustomed to some of the things that they do.”
Robert Lester, the only returning starter in the Tide secondary, said it only benefits them to start thinking about teams they haven’t faced before.
“This is our first year being introduced to Missouri, Texas A&M,” Lester said. “We’ve never seen them play before. We’ve never played them before. It doesn’t hurt to look at their formations.”
Warmack, now a senior, said having a sneak peek is nothing new. The season may be months away, but that time will pass before they know it.
“We always do this,” Warmack said. “You take what the coaches give you and you learn from it and you do what they tell you to do as a player and use what you can that they install for the future. There’s always going to be something new coming at you.”
Saban, when asked about Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino’s motorcycle accident, launched into a story from his childhood.
“I love motorcycles,” Saban said. “I loved motorcycles when I was a kid. I was not allowed to ride a motorcycle when I was a kid.
“My best friend Charlie Anderson had a Triumph, and I mean that thing was hot. Where my dad's service station was, there was a long straightaway and they used to race. Every time no one was looking I'd get on Charlie's Triumph. I took it to my girlfriend's house and she lived on the side of the mountain and there was a curve and the water was running across the street and a dog was chasing me down the street. I hit the water on the curve and I slid out. I didn't get hurt, didn't hurt the bike, just slid out.
“My dad found out about that and that's the last time I've been on a motorcycle.”