With three of five starting offensive linemen returning to Alabama this season, competition on the field has been fierce throughout fall camp.
Junior Alfred McCullough has emerged as possibly the most versatile member of the Crimson Tide’s offensive line and could be moved into the starting lineup at a number of positions if another lineman were to get injured.
“Alfred is doing really well,” said head coach Nick Saban. “He’s probably our third tackle on our team right now and certainly a guy that’s athletic enough to play left tackle if we need him to. He could play other positions for us, too. He could play guard.”
McCullough was listed as the No. 2 left tackle on the team’s depth chart released Monday.
Having a versatile player like McCullough on the Crimson Tide’s football team not only relieves the coaches in times when another teammate gets injured, but also gives him more opportunities to contribute.
McCullough played on the defensive line his freshman year at Alabama. The following year he redshirted as he made the adjustment from defensive lineman to offensive lineman. In the transitioning process, he won the Dwight Stephenson Most Valuable Lineman in the 2008 A-Day game.
“There’s not that much that you can do against him because he’s so big and so smart, and he has those long arms that he uses,” said sophomore linebacker Dont’a Hightower. “You have to be one of the top guys in pass rush to beat Alfred. He’s one of the guys that is able to make calls to the offensive lineman. There’s not many guys who know the offense that well to make audibles and checks to the defensive alignment.”
There’s one thing about the humble offensive lineman that you can’t find on the Alabama Athletics official website—his nickname. Tide fans know him as McCullough, but his teammates and family call him, “Pun.”
“His mom gave him that nickname,” Vlachos said. “There’s a rapper named Pun that supposedly he looks like him. I haven’t seen the rapper, but people have been calling him that since he got here, since he was a baby.”
Even though “Pun” and the rapper have almost nothing in common besides their hairstyle, McCullough said he doesn’t mind the nickname since people have been using it for so long. Most of his teammates aren’t even sure where his nickname originated.
“When I first got here everyone was calling him Pun, so I have no idea where he got the name,” said sophomore tight end Michael Williams. “Pun to me is a friend and on the field he’s that grindy [offensive lineman] you can depend on and off the field. He’s just that friend that you can depend on.”
McCullough, who has been playing football ever since his first flag football team back when he was seven years old, started playing all kinds of positions from the very beginning. Back in his peewee football days, McCullough played positions ranging from quarterback to running back to where he is today, offensive lineman. With almost 15 years of experience, there’s no question of where his versatility and love for the game came from.
McCullough talked about his favorite part of playing for Alabama.
“It’s just a great atmosphere around here,” he said, “being a part of a bunch of guys that love each other and [are] always doing things for each other.”
McCullough aided the Tide in the SEC Championship game last season, playing at left tackle in the victory over Florida. He also contributed throughout the season in games wherever he was needed.
“He’s done a really good job playing tackle for us, a great teammate [and] hard working kid,” Vlachos said. “[I] look forward for him to contribute to us at some point.”