ESPN names Alabama ‘O-Line U,’ ranks best in school history

Article written by:On3 imageJames Fletcher III


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Fanbases argue each season over where their favorite players stack all-time and which school claims the best talent at each position. ESPN puts math into the discussion with a formula that backs up the title of Position U. Again, ESPN named Alabama Offensive Line U over Wisconsin, Ohio State and others.

Alabama’s O-Line U title helped pave the way for the school’s other offensive recognition. The combination of O-Line U and RBU is no surprise as the best offensive linemen open holes for the best running backs.

How it works

The ESPN formula for determining each Position U school combines each players college success, NFL Draft stock and NFL success. Points are awarded for all-conference and All-American selections during college with a sliding scale based on draft position and NFL success. The formula only considers the first five years of each player’s professional career, giving credit to the trainers and coaches beyond that point.

ESPN’s solution to the transfer portal problem is simple. Any award won by the player goes toward the school where he was playing that season. Any professional achievements by that player are credited to the last school he attended before entering the draft.

Offensive Line U

Alabama has produced some of the top offensive linemen in the country for decades, making the discussion around the best even more interesting.

As part of the Position U series, ESPN created a Mount Rushmore of the top team’s players. Alabama has won the Joe Moore award for top offensive line twice in the past six seasons. The Crimson Tide’s rich history up front makes them the clear choice as O-Line U.

  • John Hannah (1970-72)

Coach Bear Bryant called Hannah the best offensive lineman he ever coached. The all-time great has been inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, earning two All-American honors in college and 10 All-Pro selections as a professional. He was a part of the NFL’s All-Time team in the 100th anniversary of the league.

  • Dwight Stephenson (1977-79)

Stephenson was a two-time All-American at center and a two-time national champion.  He was a four-time All-Pro selection and five-time Pro Bowler in his NFL career before entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  • Barrett Jones (2008-2012)

Jones became a three-time national champion under Nick Saban and won the Outland trophy as a junior. He was a versatile piece of the offensive line and a consensus All-American in 2011 and 2012. He was a fourth round pick by the St. Louis Rams and played in the NFL for four different teams.

  • Chris Samuels (1996-99)

Samuels was a consensus All-American in his senior season and won the Outland trophy. He later became a Washington Redskin and is part of their Ring of Honor. He is a six-time Pro Bowler who later returned to Alabama as an offensive line coach.

  • Others

There is a long list of former Alabama linemen who could contend for the final spot in a potential starting line here, but a few names stand out. Landon Dickerson and Ryan Kelly make a case on the interior. In addition, Jedrick Wills and Jonah Williams on the list of potential tackles.

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