Alabama received some jolting news early Tuesday. Two players, one of them star left tackle Cam Robinson, were arrested in Louisiana. The charges against the 6-foot-6, 329-pound junior included possession of a stolen firearm, a felony. The other player was Laurence Hootie Jones, a junior defensive back.
"We are aware of the situation involving (reserve Alabama defensive back) Hootie Jones and Cam Robinson and are in the process of gathering facts to determine what internal action needs to be taken," Nick Saban said in a statement.
This story will be interesting to track. The penalty under Louisiana law for felony possession of a stolen property "is not less than one year" in prison, according to AL.com, although it remains to be seen how this case will be handled. It is early in the legal process.
Robinson, a Monroe, La., native, has started all 29 games in his career at Alabama. I'd argue that he is the player the Crimson Tide could least afford to lose on its 2016 roster. Yes, the Tide has other All-American caliber players on this team -- DL Jonathan Allen, pass-rushing star Tim Williams, tight end O.J. Howard, wideout Calvin Ridley, but those guys aren't quite as integral to this team's success either due to how the depth chart stacks up or to the dependence on Robinson to what makes the Tide so tough.
Keep in mind, Alabama is already coping with the big task of replacing All-American center Ryan Kelly, the leader of the Tide's O-line the past few years. Plus, they had to replace departed starter Dominick Jackson at right tackle. Robinson was their big man. Their ultimate go-to guy. He is a huge athletic man, who really comes off the football hard and has proven to be a dominant force in their run game, something which was a bedrock for this Tide offense as it, once again, enters the season with uncertainty about who its starting QB will be.
This is a program that prides itself on being physical and Robinson is tied to that identity more than any other player on this team.
"He's a great left tackle," one SEC defensive line coach said. "He is a hell of a player. He's not as good as (Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil) was as a pass protector. but he's physical and big and strong in the run game. He's definitely got first-round talent."
It’s also worth noting the devastating group of edge-rushers the Tide will face this season. Among them: Texas A&M’s tandem of Myles Garrett and Deashon Hall; LSU’s Arden Key and Lewis Neal; Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, Ole Miss’ Marquis Haynes, and Arkansas’ Deatrich Wise.
Remember the name Jonah Williams, #Alabama early enrollee OT from Cali. I asked Saban about him: "He’s a very bright guy and very athletic."— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) April 15, 2016
Alabama has a young offensive tackle the staff is excited about in Jonah Williams, an early enrolled freshman getting a long look at the right tackle spot. Saban told me last month how much he liked how athletic, explosive and bright the young Californian is, but he still needs to get bigger and stronger. Sophomore Lester Cotton, a guard, is another option as would be Korren Kirven, the player listed as the back-up left tackle. But it's a stretch to think there wouldn't be a lot of dropoff if Robinson isn't in the line-up when the Tide opens up the season in Texas against USC.
Laurence Hootie Jones