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December 12, 2012

Taylor suited to offense

TUSCALOOSA | Alphonse Taylor was the biggest player on the University of Alabama football team the day he arrived at the Capstone nearly a year ago to enroll for the 2012 spring term.

But at 6-foot-5 and more than 350 pounds, the Mobile native quickly learned that size isn't everything. All the lessons that come with a redshirt season were an adjustment for Taylor in 2012, but he said he embraced them all.

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"I really worked on my body and the technique of the game. I lost a lot of weight during the offseason, and during this year, and got stronger as the year went on," Taylor said. "Honestly, this redshirt year flew by. It flew by. I closed my eyes, woke up, and I'm here in Atlanta. Really, when your redshirt year flies by that fast, you really can't complain."

Taylor began spring practice at nose guard, but was moved to offensive guard near the end of spring drills and practiced at left guard throughout the fall.

A position switch can be among the most difficult hurdles for a young player, but Taylor has taken to the offensive line and the technique that goes with it.

"It really wasn't difficult at all, because it was all for the betterment of the team," Taylor said. "It's not necessarily about yourself and what you do. It's about you doing what's asked of you to better the team. They felt me going to O-line would be best for the team and best for me, so that's what I decided to do. It wasn't hard at all. It was smooth."

Asked earlier this season about the team's redshirt freshmen, Alabama coach Saban mentioned redshirting offensive linemen Taylor, Caleb Gulledge and Brandon Greene as group.

"I think some of those guys have a very bright future," Saban said. "I've been pleased with the progress of the three offensive linemen that are over there working every day."

Jai Miller update:

The former UA recruit and pro baseball player is looking at to play college football, possibly at Alabama. Click here for more!

Taylor practiced at left guard with Alabama's third unit, and had arguably the nation's best player at that position to learn from: Chance Warmack.

"Those guys were a great deal of help. Me playing left guard, Chance playing left guard, I really watch everything he does," Taylor said. "And he critiques me up on when I mess up. He lets me know what I'm doing wrong. I really look up to him, and (right guard Anthony) Steen. I just look up to them as role models at the position we play."

Warmack will be gone next season, however, as will center Barrett Jones, and right tackle D.J. Fluker may have a strong opportunity to make an early jump to the NFL. It will be the biggest rebuilding job on the offensive line that the UA coaching staff has faced since 2009.

Taylor, for one, is ready for the challenge.

"We still have to stick to the basics and do what we do. And that's go to work every day," he said. "Every chance we get, maximize our day of work every day."

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196.

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