TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson has been limited physically during spring practice as he recovers from shoulder surgery. But that hasn’t stopped the rising junior from providing leadership to his position group.
During the Crimson Tide’s first five practices this spring, Robinson has been spotted offering pointers and words of encouragement to the rest of the offensive line, particularly those working at the tackle spots. His teammates and the coaching staff have noticed.
“He definitely has leadership qualities. He’s got sort of the alpha dog personality that you really like in a leader,” Tide coach Nick Saban said Monday. “Some guys are willing to take that responsibility. He seems to be doing that.”
Added Tide offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher, “He’s on the field with us, watching us and giving us tips and seeing how we’re doing. He’s still being a vocal leader from the side and it’s good to see that.”
Robinson battled injuries throughout his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa, but has yet to miss a start. He’s shown a warrior’s mentality throughout his career, playing through both ankle and shoulder injuries. As a freshman, Robinson suffered a high ankle sprain against Tennessee, and had to be helped off the field. But just two weeks later, he was back on the line against rival LSU. Saban said it’s tough to keep Robinson off the field.
Robinson, who is wearing a black, non-contact jersey, is only participating in individual drills.
“He’s making good progress. I think with Cam, he heals and he always feels like he can do more than what the docs are allowing him to do right now,” Saban said. “We certainly are going to make the decision based on the medical staff, and we’re not going to push him this spring so we can get him ready for the summer and the fall. I’m pleased with the way he’s responded to this, and the role that he’s taken in trying to help the other players and set a good example for them and be a good leader.”
With Robinson out and center Ryan Kelly and right tackle Dominick Jackson gone, Alabama has been experimenting along the offensive line this spring.
Pierschbacher, who started 15 games at left guard last year, is now playing center. He’s battling with J.C. Hassenauer and Josh Casher.
It’s still early, and Saturday’s scrimmage may go along way in solidifying some of the offensive line spots.
During the media’s viewing windows of practice, we’ve seen the first offensive line group have Pierschbacher at center, Bradley Bozeman at left guard, Alphonse Taylor at right guard, January enrollee Jonah Williams at left tackle and rising sophomore Lester Cotton at right tackle.
Guys like Korren Kirven, junior college transfer Charles Baldwin and others are in the mix as well.
“I think we have a lot more guys that have potential to play right now,” Saban said. “There’s a lot of guys that are in the developmental stage. Lester Cotton has had a really good spring. He’s played left tackle and right tackle. (Korren) Kirven has done a good job and he’s made a lot of progress. He’s having a really good spring so far. Ross has done a good job of moving over to center.”
Alabama has routinely had guys play multiple positions along the offensive line to help provide depth for the future. Saban said it’s more about getting the best group on the field than what position each player is at.
“I think the challenge is going to be with the new guys that we have coming in and the experience that we have coming back, is getting the best five guys at the best positions that we can,” Saban said. “And how we do that is going to be a little bit of a work in progress, but the faster we can do it, probably, the better off we are. Just because a guy’s making progress at tackle, if you move him to guard — you can say, ‘Oh, it’s offensive line, it’s all the same.’ But things happen faster at guard. It takes guys a while to get used to that. I think what we’re trying to do right now is get everybody a lot of turns so that we can make a good decision about who we want to invest the time in in the future to get the best five guys in the best spots for us to have the best offensive line in the fall.”