Bradley Bozeman is an honest man.
The Alabama offensive lineman isn’t one to boast, brag or make outrageous statements. So when he says something, it carries the same massive weight he does. That’s what made it so surprising when he revealed Thursday he’s actually quite the runner.
The 6-foot-5, 314-pound offensive lineman called it a little bit strange himself. When jokingly asked why his speed was a surprise, Bozeman laughed and gestured down to his mammoth frame.
“Me personally, I’m actually a pretty good runner, so weird, but it’s like I said, a mindset,” Bozeman said. “You can’t think about oh this sucks, oh this is... I can’t do this. You have to come in with a mentality of I’m going to kill this.”
Bozeman didn’t run track in high school, and he isn’t about to take on one any of the Crimson Tide’s skill-position players in a race. That doesn’t mean his speed goes unnoticed in practice.
“He’s one of those guys that’s always going hard,” defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne said. “Like when we’re running sprints and stuff, he’s always at the front. He’s pretty fast.”
Payne wouldn’t go as far as to say Bozeman could beat him in a race. However, that’s not really the point anyway. Bozeman said he’s perfectly content with sticking to his position group when it comes to running. He’s not working on a 40 time and isn’t even planning on racing his fellow linemen. In fact, his speed is ultimately the product of trying to keep up.
“Well, I started off when I came in. I was a decent runner, but then Ryan Kelly was here when I came in,” Bozeman explained. “I kind of made it my goal to keep up with Ryan. Each year, I ran with Ryan and I tried to keep up with him. Eventually, I got to the point where I was passing Ryan in running. So that really helped me.”
Now, Bozeman’s the one leading the offensive line group, at least most of the time.
“Me and Ross (Pierschbacher) like run neck and neck, so we usually try to push each other,” Bozeman said. “We feed off each other.”
Coming back as one of three returning starters on Alabama’s offensive line, Bozeman will look to provide stability to what could be a fluid offensive line this spring. The Tide will need to replace two starters up front, as left tackle and Outland Trophy winner Cam Robinson declared early for the NFL Draft and right guard Korren Kirven graduated. Bozeman said the team has already gone through countless combinations across the line with several players working at multiple positions.
“You know, hopefully, I’m set in a kind of concrete position, but I still have to come out and bust my butt every day and get better,” Bozeman said. “This year, I’m really looking forward to coming out and really perfecting my craft at the center position.”
Two players who could step into either of the two vacant spots in the starting lineup are early enrollees Alex Leatherwood and Elliot Baker. Both players come to the Tide as five-star recruits. Leatherwood was the No. 1 offensive tackle and No. 4 player overall in the 2017 class, while Baker was the No. 2 JUCO prospect in the class.
“I think they are both really good players,” Bozeman said. “I think they are coming in and working hard and really trying to work to our standards.”
If either player needs an example of those standards, Bozeman’s an easy man to find. Just look at the front of the line.