11 July 2010
There are a number of players on the Crimson Tide roster who have seen their careers altered by injury. For most, the injury sets them back to the extent that they either never recover, or they leave everyone wondering "what if?" For our next member of the senior class, the injury facilitated a position move that might actually result in him finding his natural position.
Brian Motley - #66 - 6-3 - 289 lbs. - Autaugaville, AL - Autaugaville High School
After playing well at defensive tackle for the Tide during the 2007 season, even starting against Louisiana-Monroe, it looked like Brian would be the anchor of the 2008 defensive line. Two things happened that changed that completely - an injured hand, and the arrival of Terrence Cody. With the future two-time All-American claiming the nose guard position from day one on campus, it still looked like Brian would serve as a valuable back up to a guy that was certainly not going to play every down. The hand injury ended any chance of that, and caused the coaches to move him to the offensive line. At first it was a move that was made to allow Brian to continue to get reps without having to use his hand in the same way. The end result ended up being the staff evaluating him higher at offensive guard than at defensive guard.
In all he's played in 15 games the last two seasons. And he enters his senior campaign in a battle for the left guard spot vacated by All-American Mike Johnson, as well as for the first interior lineman off of the bench spot. During the spring he spent time at both guard positions, as well as center. His time at center was more because of the absence of William Vlachos during the spring, but it gives Brian valuable experience at another position. That could be valuabe for him as he goes against fellow senior David Ross in trying to lock down that interior backup slot.
He stands an outside shot at winning the starting position at left guard, though I don't expect that to happen. The coaches would likely give it to him if none of the younger guys stepped up, but I think we'll see that be a battle between Chance Warmack and John Michael Boswell. Brian is a senior, though, and occasionally you'll see a senior have a huge offseason that gives him the final push to get over the hump.
It's likely that he'll also be behind Ross at that interior backup spot, though there is no indication that the staff will stick with the pattern of having one guy backup all three interior line spots. Ross has also battled some injuries in his career, and their battle this fall could be to determine which senior plays a lot, and which one enjoys his final season from the sidelines.
One interesting thing to note is that Brian's versatility could give him an outside shot at an NFL career. While he'll almost certainly never be an NFL starter, the fact that he can play all three interior positions, as well as be an emergency defensive lineman will likely peak the interest of a few NFL general managers that are struggling to find the right mix of guys on their 53 man roster. Atlas Herrion was in a similar situation during his Bama career from 2001-2003, and he ended up having a five year career on the practice rosters of three different NFL teams. Brian's ability to also play on the defensive line could make him a more inviting player. Herrion currently plays in the Arena Football League, which would also be a real opportunity for Brian. In the AFL the linemen play both ways, and Motley certain has that ability. Because of the way that the seasons line up, he could actually be a full-time player in the AFL and be on a practice roster in the NFL. And he could make a solid living doing that.
Up next, the guy who is in a somewhat similar position - David Ross.
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