Emil Ekiyor Jr. living up to the standard of experienced Alabama football offensive line
Alabama had no shortage of options for the fifth and final starter on its offensive line, one that had every reason to be one of the nation’s best.
It had Chris Owens, who started four games at center last season and continued to have a role as a tight end later in the season. It also had Kendall Randolph, who gained experience in a similar role. Pierce Quick was a top-50 prospect entering his sophomore season, and Darrian Dalcourt had elevated himself to backup center as a freshman.
Emil Ekiyor Jr. was the one who emerged from that battle, taking the right guard spot. He has not disappointed in his first season as a starter, despite being by far the least experienced member of Alabama’s offensive line. His redshirt sophomore season will continue later this month, but not as previously scheduled on Saturday against LSU. The game was postponed Tuesday to a to be determined date due to a COVID-19 outbreak in LSU’s team.
“This year, playing alongside guys like Landon (Dickerson), Alex (Leatherwood), Deonte (Brown), Evan (Neal) with so much experience, I feel like that’s helped me transition smoothly into a starting role,” Ekiyor said. “I think I’ve played pretty well, and the coaches, that’s up to them to decide ultimately. But yeah, I think everything’s been going pretty smoothly. Just last year, trying to help transition me into the starting role and it all just came in nicely.”
Even in the mass of capable bodies on UA’s offensive line last season, Ekiyor did show himself to be on the top tier. Whenever UA had a minor injury on its offensive line, Ekiyor was the person the team would spring into action, namely in last year’s game against Arkansas when Neal missed a few possessions.
Ekiyor came to UA as a four-star prospect who was just outside the top 100 in the Class of 2018, so it is not a surprise that Ekiyor is able to contribute before he becomes an upperclassman. He believes he benefits from the people around him – three seniors and a sophomore who is a returning starter.
“It’s been really good; playing next to good people makes you look good,” Ekiyor said. “Playing next to a guy like Evan who has a lot of experience, started every game his freshman year, it’s been really helpful. He’s taught me some things that have helped him out at guard when he played guard as a freshman. It’s been really good learning from him, and I look forward to continue getting better playing next to him.”
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson