July 5, 2006
REIER: Long journey back nearing completion
It's February 21, 2004.
The Alabama Crimson Tide is set to make its first run through spring drills under head coach Mike Shula. The offensive line, after losing guard Justin Smiley a year early to the National Football League, the versatile Atlas Herrion to graduation and Wesley Britt to a broken leg, is down to nine available scholarship players. Of those nine, three players -- guards Evan Mathis and Danny Martz and center J.B. Closner -- are considered passable by Southeastern Conference standards.
To the surprise of no one, sophomore Kyle Tatum makes the move from defensive tackle to right offensive tackle. And he doesn't just switch sides of the ball; he goes from backup to starter simply by flipping the digits on his jersey (85 to 58).
Two deep? Second-year offensive line coach Bob Connelly doesn't have a one deep. With Britt still recovering from surgery to repair the broken leg he sustained against Tennessee during the 2003 season, redshirt freshman Chris Capps spends the entire spring working with the first offense.
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