Barrett Jones has shifted around Alabama's offensive line as the team has needed him. Now, he's their center -- the best player on an offensive line that paves the way for an elite running attack, and trying for his third national championship as a starter.
Jones began his college career as the Crimson Tide's right guard, and started all 14 games as Alabama won the national championship. He started there again as a sophomore, but moved to left tackle as a junior. The team won the national title again, and Jones earned recognition as the best offensive lineman in the country, winning the Outland Trophy, as well as a unanimous spot on the all-American team.
This year brought a third and final shift, as Jones took over at center. All three positions call for different bodies, strengths, and skillsets, but Jones adapted to each. Center is arguably the hardest one, as its the one tasked with making the proper blocking calls for the offensive line, but Jones handled it easily, and in his first year starting at center, he earned the Rimington Trophy as tops in the nation. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Jones is his 4.0 GPA, which earned him this year's Walter V. Campbell Trophy.
With his versatility, size -- he's 6-foot-5, 311 pounds -- and strength, Jones is considered a likely top offensive line pick in next year's NFL Draft. Dan Kadar's Mocking the Draft puts the senior as a player to watch in tonight's national title game. Bill Connelly notes how important Jones will be to moving the ball for Alabama, as their run game is their biggest weapon.
Jones had been injured, hurting his left foot in the SEC Championship game, but he'll reportedly be good to go for the Crimson Tide.
2011 Unanimous All-American, 2012 Consensus All-American
2011 and 2012 first team all-SEC
2012 Rimington Trophy (nation's best center)
2011 Outland Trophy (nation's best interior lineman)
2012 William V. Campbell Trophy ("the Academic Heisman")
2012 Jacobs Blocking Trophy (SEC's best blocker)
Here's a profile/highlight video of Barrett Jones after winning the Rimington Trophy: