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Nation's Best Center Parker Brailsford Bolsters Alabama OL


Parker Brailsford
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In a surprising move for the 2024 season, Parker Brailsford, known for his standout performance at Washington, has transferred to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Following former Washington coach Kalen DeBoer, Brailsford's shift to Alabama marks a significant change for the top returning player in the position rankings.



Brailsford's prowess on the field was evident in his redshirt freshman season, earning him recognition as one of the nation's top centers. According to the Pro Football Focus wins above average metric, he finished 2023 as the second-most valuable center nationwide. His exceptional run-blocking skills, with an impressive 80.7 grade, positioned him as a force to be reckoned with among Power Four centers, second only to Oregon's Jackson Powers-Johnson, who was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Las Vegas Raiders.



Brailsford Measurable's

What sets Brailsford apart is his elite athleticism, particularly showcased in zone runs where he led all FBS centers with a remarkable 90.7 grade in 2023. His ability to excel in open space makes him a valuable asset to any team's offensive strategy.


Alabama's acquisition of Brailsford comes at a crucial time, following the retirement of legendary coach Nick Saban and significant losses from the transfer portal. While the Crimson Tide faced setbacks, Brailsford's arrival bolsters their offensive line, securing one of the nation's top interior linemen.


Strengths

1. Persistence and leadership: Brailsford stands out for his unwavering determination and positive attitude. He's a competitor who finishes what he starts, earning admiration from coaches for his leadership traits on and off the field.

2. Above-average awareness: Despite limited experience, Brailsford demonstrates exceptional awareness. He effectively sells trap blocks and exhibits fluid movement, seamlessly adjusting at the second level of play.

3. Hand technique and coordination: With proficient hand usage and precise placement, Brailsford maximizes the impact of his powerful punch. His coordination between upper and lower body movements is impressive, especially evident in pass protection scenarios.

4. Balanced pass protection: Brailsford maintains good balance as a pass protector, holding his ground against bull rushes. His strong hands enable him to grip and control pass rushers effectively, showcasing his proficiency in this aspect of the game.

5. Instinctive engagement: Brailsford swiftly identifies defenders and initiates engagement, demonstrating quick footwork to sustain blocks effectively.


Weaknesses

1. Vulnerability to quickness: In pass protection, Brailsford occasionally struggles against opponents with superior quickness, resorting to reaching and lunging, which compromises his effectiveness.

2. Limited power in open space: While competent in confined areas, Brailsford's performance diminishes when required to operate in open space during running plays. He appears underpowered in such scenarios, indicating room for improvement in this aspect.

3. Challenges with counter moves: Brailsford has encountered difficulties in handling quality counter moves, particularly against skilled opponents. This weakness may expose him to challenges against adept pass rushers at the professional level.


A Huskie if Tuscaloosa

Hailing from Mesa, Arizona, Brailsford's journey to collegiate football began at Saguaro High School, where he displayed his talents in both football and track and field. Now, with his transfer to Alabama, Brailsford brings three years of eligibility, positioning him as a cornerstone for the Crimson Tide's future success.


Parker Brailsford
© Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA TODAY NETWORK

In his inaugural season at Washington in 2022, Brailsford redshirted, laying the foundation for his stellar performance in 2023. His breakout season saw him earn a starting spot on the Huskies' offensive line, garnering accolades such as Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Week and Pac-12 Offensive Lineman of the Week. His contributions were instrumental in the Huskies winning the prestigious Joe Moore Award for the nation's top offensive line.


As Brailsford embarks on this new chapter with the Alabama Crimson Tide, his transfer signifies a promising future for both himself and the team. While his absence was felt during the A-Day game, fans eagerly anticipate witnessing his impact on the field as he continues to elevate his game in the storied tradition of Alabama football.



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