Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Crimson Countdown: Anthony Steen
By Alex Scarborough
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.
Anthony Steen was quietly very effective as part of a stellar offensive line in 2012 at Alabama.
Expectations for 2013: Steen was able to flourish in the background last season as arguably the most underrated offensive lineman for the Crimson Tide. With veterans Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack taking up the headlines, and Cyrus Kouandjio garnering his fair share of attention as a rising star in the SEC, Steen was often overlooked, despite not allowing a single sack or committing a single penalty all year, according to Kouandjio. But 2013 won't offer the same anonymity for Steen as one of two returning starters and a preseason first-team All-SEC selection by college football prognosticator Phil Steele.
Best-case scenario: It's only a matter of time before the rest of the country recognizes what a talent Steen has been for Alabama. Anyone who watched the Tide last season saw it if they looked closely enough -- No. 61 breaking upfield to spring Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon for many of their longest runs. He might not talk a big game, but Steen plays one. As quarterback AJ McCarron explained, "He's a leader; he just doesn't say a whole bunch." With three new starters, leadership at whatever volume will be vital.
Worst-case scenario: Continuity might be the biggest question mark for this year's starting offensive line. Steen was used to playing alongside Jones and Fluker last season. But he has never started a game with center Ryan Kelly and right tackle Austin Shepherd, the projected starters after the spring. How Steen meshes with the two rookies this fall will be important for the future of the line. On top of that, it might take some time to see how the veteran adjusts to the intricacies of new offensive line coach Mario Cristobal after spending most of his career under Jeff Stoutland's tutelage.
Future impact: When Steen leaves after this season, it will open the door for a number of players to fight for the job at right tackle. Incoming freshman Grant Hill might be the most intriguing prospect to replace Steen, though, as the former four-star guard is the highest rated offensive lineman Alabama has signed since Kouandjio in 2011. The Huntsville native shot up the recruiting rankings late in the process, thanks to a strong performance at the Under Armour All-America Game. He went from the No. 246-ranked prospect in the country to 86th overall, the biggest gain by any player over that time.