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Thursday, July 25, 2013
Crimson Countdown: Brian Vogler

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.

No. 84 Brian Vogler
Redshirt junior tight end

Expectations for 2013: For two seasons, Vogler was forced to switch back and forth between H-back and tight end for the Crimson Tide. After all, Michael Williams wasn't going to be moved off the tight end position with all his experience. But now that Williams is off to the NFL, it's Vogler's turn to slide into the position he fits best in -- tight end. The 6-foot-7 athlete has been a solid blocker for his entire career, and this season he'll be asked to expand his role and do what a tight end does best -- provide a security blanket in the passing game and a big target in the red zone.

Best-case scenario: A-Day was a solid start for Vogler, who played with the first-team offense and hauled in four receptions for 24 yards. There wasn't anything spectacular about his play, but his ability to contribute in the passing game was a positive move forward at the position. After all, Vogler entered 2012 with just three career receptions in 23 games. With his size and deceptive athleticism, he could come in handy for offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, especially in short-yardage situations where he can use his frame to shield defenders from the ball.

Worst-case scenario: He could wind up being a Brad Smelley or Colin Peek-type of tight end for Alabama, but Vogler is not the type of athlete to put fear into a defense. He runs well and has good size, but he doesn't create the matchup nightmares you want from someone at his position. Three career receptions says just as much about his ability to get open and make plays as does the lack of opportunity he's had with Williams so entrenched at tight end. For Alabama's offense to be its best, Vogler will have to outplay expectations and show he's more than just a run blocker. If not, it may just be a matter of time before another player steps up and becomes the type of tight end who demands the defense's attention.

Future impact: In fact, Alabama might already have that kind of athlete on its roster right now. O.J. Howard, the No. 2 tight end/H-back prospect in his class, has wowed coaches and teammates with his ability to catch the football since enrolling this spring. Vogler himself said Howard "brings a whole new dimension to this offense." While Howard will likely start out at H-back because of his size, it's likely he'll end up transitioning to tight end once he's gotten the necessary strength to play on the line of scrimmage in the SEC.