TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama’s still-developing offensive line is getting a rather large shot in the arm this week as 338-pound Deonte Brown is eligible to play after serving the final four games of the six-game NCAA suspension from last season.
Not that his return means the redshirt junior offensive guard from Decatur, who started five games in the middle of last season, will immediately crack the Crimson Tide’s first-team lineup up front.
“The plan for every player on our team is the guy’s got to beat somebody out if he wants to play,” Saban said. “I mean, nobody is entitled to play. If he gets in shape, he does what he’s supposed to do, shows he can play better than somebody else that’s playing, that’s the plan. Just like it’s the plan for every other guy on the team. And that’s really kind of up to him, not up to me.”
Brown is currently listed as a backup to freshman left guard Evan Neal, the former five-star signee who has started the first four games this season, but also has experience at right guard, where former Florida State junior transfer Landon Dickerson has started three of the first four games. The only exception is when Dickerson started at center against New Mexico State in place of a limited junior starter Chris Owens.
Brown, who struggled with his weight throughout the first few seasons in Tuscaloosa, finally found his way into the starting rotation at left guard against Tennessee midway through last year, providing a powerful push inside throughout the back half of SEC play.
Brown was one of three players suspended six games by the NCAA before the team’s College Football Playoff run last season, along with since-transferred junior tight end Kedrick James (SMU) and then-junior offensive tackle Elliot Baker, who left the team after the season.