02 August 2008
| Chris Underwood - #87 – TE – 6-4 – 226 lbs. – Vestavia Hills, AL – Vestavia Hills HS – Redshirt
When Chris reported last season at 224 lbs. it seemed as though his #1 goal would be to add weight. Playing Tight End in High School at that weight is not uncommon, but in the SEC it would seem to be a disadvantage. The 2008 media guide lists Chris at 226 lbs., obviously not much of a gain. That would make it seem as though he will be buried on the depth chart, but he closed the end of the spring having been praised by the coaches.
In High School Chris was described as being a very “fluid” or “smooth” player. That typically means that a player has good fundamental skill, and that his technique is what makes him player. That bodes well for Chris, as good technique combined with more physicality typically leads to more, and quicker playing time.
How much Chris plays in 2008 might have a lot to do with the current appeal for immediate eligibility of transfer Colin Peek
. As things currently stand, Peek will have to sit out the 2008 season, which would open the door for all of the Tight Ends to earn more playing time. The Peek family insists that they are continuing to fight with the NCAA and are hopeful that a resolution will come soon.
Stylistically Chris fits in well with what Jim McElwain
likes from his Tight Ends. He loves versatile guys that can line up as a standard TE, can split out wide in a flex TE position, or can line up in the backfield as an H-Back. Chris’ athleticism and quickness make him a candidate to do the 2nd and 3rd of those now. It seem as though his weight would prohibit him from being a power blocker on the line of scrimmage, but technique and strength can make up for some size deficiency.
With Seniors Nick Walker
& Travis McCall
ahead of Chris, Preston Dial
& incoming Freshman Brad Smelley
on the depth chart, it is going to be tough to find room for a 3rd or 4th TE in situations outside of short yardage or goal line. But given the way that McElwain
loves to create mismatches, it is possible that Alabama could use 3 TE sets at any point on the field.
gone in 2009 Chris will be fighting for much more playing time next season than he will this season. His ability to be a receiving TE will make him appealing to McElwain in 2008, but he will need to become more of a complete player at the position in order to crack the rotation this season.