December 25, 2007

Boswell brings size, power to Tide front

Tuscaloosa County offensive lineman John Michael Boswell may have become a little 'out of sight, out of mind' to recruiting fans due to his early commitment back during the Crimson Tide's A-Day weekend, but the 6-foot-6, 290-pound four-star recruit didn't stop plowing over defenders en route to leading his high school squad to an 11-1 record this fall. He capped off his tremendous season with an appearance in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game last week.

His next step will be competing for a job on the Alabama offensive line next fall. The only question is, where does the big athlete fit best - as a cornerstone tackle or interior lineman? According to Tuscaloosa County Coach Robert Higgenbotham, the decision on where to play Boswell won't be limited based on ability.

"He can play anywhere they need him," said Higgenbotham, who has called Boswell one of the better prospects he has coached in his long career in the Alabama prep ranks. "People always wonder whether a prospect may get complacent because of an early scholarship offer or commitment, but he was our rock on offense this year. Like any other young lineman, he needs to continue to work on his footwork, but he has the flexibility where he can play guard and be a great puller or a very good pass-blocking tackle.

"When we needed a yard, we ran behind him quite frequently. You just knew he was going to handle his guy and make sure we had a crease to hit."

Boswell picked the Tide over scholarship offers from Clemson, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

Considered a strong lean to the Tide from the beginning, Boswell's frequent trips to the Tide's campus culminated in a verbal commitment to Coach Nick Saban during a post A-Day game barbecue for visitors and their families.

Several months later, another top in-state offensive lineman joined Boswell as a Tide commit - Mountain Brook's Tyler Love. It was Love's Spartans squad that eventually ended Boswell's season in a 17-14 loss in the second round of the playoffs.

"Tyler and John Michael are similar kids in that they are both aggressive and fairly athletic for being so big," said Higgenbotham. "Both of them will be real assets to a program like Alabama. They both are real good at getting to the second level on their blocks. They get downfield and look to hit someone to turn a good play into a big one.

"I am a believer that all offensive linemen should redshirt except with that rare exceptional case like an Andre Smith. John Michael is a big, strong kid who is only going to get bigger and stronger under Coach Saban's off-season program."

Boswell is a full academic qualifier and the 26th-ranked offensive tackle nationally.


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