Lester Cotton, a senior out of Tuscaloosa, has started 25 games in his career, at both left and right guard. He opened the 2018 season as the starter on the left side and was having a solid year. Cotton suffered an ankle sprain in practice before the Missouri game. He made the start; but Deonte Brown, the redshirt sophomore out of Decatur, saw a fair bit of time in his place.
The following week, Saban said Cotton was “competing for a job just like everybody else around here.” And just like that, Deonte Brown was the first team left guard and started against Missouri.
Cornbread, as Brown is known, has battled weight issues since arriving on campus at 400lbs; but he appears to have slimmed down to a svelte 330-340lbs. We’ll see who trots out there against LSU; but, with how he performed, he could be the Tide’s new starter going forward.
2nd and 4: Bama’s in the pistol with Najee Harris (#22) as the tailback. Brown (#65) steps to his left and engages the defensive tackle, Terry Beckner, Jr. Beckner is 6’4, 295lbs; so he’s not some tiny guy. Brown still has 49lbs on him, and you can see his strength. He gets his hands inside Beckner’s and just shoves him back. Brown re-engages and gives him another shove towards the sideline for good measure. Harris is running the opposite way, but Brown only has eyes for Beckner and shoves him once more because the play ain’t over, dadgummit.
1st and 10: Jalen Hurts is in shotgun with Harris the Younger to his right. Brown matches up with Rashad Brandon (300lbs) this time. It’s another easy win for Cornbread. He wins the hand-fighting and turns Brandon parallel to the sideline. Brown then uses all his power and knocks Brandon right on his butt.
2nd and 15: Now let’s see him in pass protection. It doesn’t take long before Brown is blocking; but in the brief time before, it looks like he has good balance, not leaning too far forward or back. The defensive ends quickly arrives, and Jonah Williams (#73) passes him off to Brown, who picks him up and handles him one-on-one. Brown keeps his feet moving the entire team and controls the block.
1st and 15: Tua Tagovailoa is in the gun with Josh Jacobs (#8) to his right. He gets the handoff and takes off to the left. Brown and center Ross Pierschbacher (#71) both pull left. The cornerback on that side blitzes, and Brown blows him up. Jacobs cuts upfield, and Brown shows off some nice hustle by taking off after him. Unfortunately, while Brown’s block was flashy, the corner recovers fast and helps make the tackle.
1st and 10: Brown takes on the defensive tackle in this pass play. The defender gives him a big shove backwards, but Brown recovers and gets right back in there. Brown matches him step for step, move for move while Tagovailoa searches for a receiver. Brown’s man never gets close to Tagovailoa.