- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
During the summer, TideNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Alabama roster -- excluding the Tide's 2013 recruiting class -- in our Crimson Countdown series. Starting with No. 1 Dee Hart, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Brandon Ivory.
No. 65 Isaac Luatua
Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman
Expectations for 2013: The former three-star prospect from California came to Tuscaloosa as something of a project, redshirting his first season on campus before working at guard with the scout team in 2012. While he's not likely to enter the competition for a starting job, Luatua will provide depth on an offensive line looking for options in case of emergency.
Best-case scenario: Luatua has the tools to blossom into a powerful run blocker for the Crimson Tide. He's both strong and compact with a similar build to former UA guard Chance Warmack, who stood an inch taller and was seven pounds heavier. A strong showing with the second-team offensive line during the season could propel him well into the 2014 season, when guards Anthony Steen and Kellen Williams will be out of school.
Worst-case scenario: The competition at guard hasn't gotten any easier since Luatua signed in 2011, and it won't ease up anytime soon. Early enrollee Brandon Hill has big-time potential as an interior lineman when he gets his weight under control and fellow rookie Grant Hill, who finished as the top-rated guard in the 2013 class, will get a look at guard as well. Adding the commitments of 2014 guards Viane Talamaivao and Montel McBride further clouds Luatua's future.
Future impact: Alabama fans might be paying more attention to Luatua's impact away from the football field this year as the Crimson Tide court the services of his brother, Tyler Luatua, whom ESPN ranks as the No. 1 tight end in the country. Tyler visited Tuscaloosa in November as the final leg of a three-stop tour that included Ohio State and Notre Dame.
11hDerek Tyson and Tom VanHaaren