09 July 2008
| Lorenzo Washington - #97 – 6-4 – 283 lbs. – Logansville, GA – Hargrave Military Academy – 2 Varsity Letters
Lorenzo is one of the few players that have been able to overcome not being ideally sized for his position in Nick Saban’s
3-4 defense. At 283 lbs. Lorenzo is a about 20 lbs too light to be ideal for the nose guard position, a position whose job is to force double teams. At his size Lorenzo only occasionally demanded the double team, which makes things more difficult for the DEs and LBs.
Having said that, his quickness off of the ball made up for some of that, allowing him to make more plays than most nose guards make. He got better and better as the season progressed, and actually recorded 3 sacks, tying him for 2nd on the 2007 defense.
Despite his ability to make plays, Nick Saban’s
defense is one that works better when everyone is performing their specific role. Lorenzo was making plays in spite of his physical limitations for his position, but he was not able to play the position exactly how it is supposed to be played, which limits the effectiveness of those around him.
That isn’t he fault in the slightest, however. He has been playing the nose guard out of necessity, as the Tide has struggled to find any consistent depth at that position. With Brian Motley
being frequently injured, and now possibly on offense, there is not a single returning letterman behind Lorenzo on the depth chart.
The best case scenario for both Lorenzo and the Alabama defense is for one of the young returning defensive linemen (Josh Chapman
, Alfred McCullough
or Brian Motley
) or one of the incoming players (Terrence Cody
, Marcel Dareus
, Damien Square
, or Kerry Murphy
) to lock down the nose guard position, which would allow Lorenzo to move to DE. His quickness off of the ball and ability to make plays is more suited to that position, and the size and strength of guys like Chapman
forces teams to double team the middle, which makes everything else on the defense flow like it is supposed to.
Despite being a Junior, this is Lorenzo’s 5th year out of High School. He spent his first year at Hargrave Military Academy, and then redshirted his Freshman season. His birthday is not until December, but he will turn 22 at that time, making him one of Alabama’s oldest Juniors.
: If Lorenzo has to stay at nose guard, despite what it reads above, it won’t be the end of the world. As the season progressed and he made more plays, the double teams were more frequent. He will likely have added another 5-10 lbs. during the off season, which gets him closer to the ideal weight for the position.
Despite the fact that there appears to be a wealth of depth behind him, there isn’t. Of the names mentioned above, only Chapman
are definitely going to play nose guard. McCullough
took snaps at DE in the spring, Motley
spent the last week of the spring on offense, Dareus
might end up at DE, & Murphy
has yet to enroll (and likely won't) due to academic qualification issues.
It is essential that there be 2 viable players for this position, but considerably better if there are 3. If Motley
only moved to the offensive side of the ball due to his injury, and he returns to the defensive line in the fall, then that potentially gives Bama 3 players at the nose guard, with Chapman
being the other 2. By season’s end, however, Lorenzo had pushed well ahead of Motley at the NG position. So unless Chapman
take over the starting role, it is unlikely that Lorenzo would move away from the position.
can take over the starting position, it is possible that McCullough
would move back to the nose guard spot to add depth, and Lorenzo could move out to the DE position. But until someone else on the team demonstrates the ability to be better at nose guard than Lorenzo, despite the fact that he is not ideal for the position, he will have to stay there.
Whether at nose guard or defensive end, I expect Lorenzo to have a big season. If he is at DE the numbers will be more eye-popping, mainly because true success at the nose guard position does not necessarily show up on the stat sheet.