ATLANTA- Alabama offensive lineman Korren Kirven remembers the moment when head coach Nick Saban told him he would be starting the first game of the season. Ahead of its game against Mississippi State, the Crimson Tide needed Kirvin, a redshirt senior, to fill in for an injured Alphonse Taylor. He wanted to share the moment with someone special to him.
“After coach talked to me, he called me and told me that I was going to be starting in the game and after that I called my dad and told him,” Kirven said. “He was excited and stuff, it was a good moment.”
Heading into No. 1 Alabama’s matchup with No. 4 Washington, Kirven holds this phone call as one the main highlights of his 2016 season. He only started one game in his entire five-year career before getting the nod against the Bulldogs. All he wanted to do was seize the opportunity.
“It felt great. It was a great feeling going out there,” Kirven said. “…I feel like it was a great opportunity to go out there and show what I could do.”
Kirven entered the year in a position battle with fellow lineman Jonah Williams for right tackle. Williams ultimately won the battle and became Alabama’s consistent starter. Kirven, once again, had to wait his turn, wondering how he would be able to make an impact on his team.
Losing the position competition with Williams was an emotional setback for Kirven, but he stayed positive.
“It was deflating I would say, but God puts you in positions you know you’re not ready for. I was ready for this opportunity,” Kirven said.
Kirven said the competition helped him in the long run. He believes Williams pushed him to get better as a player during their battles. Williams had high praise when talking about Kirven.
“He’s a really good guy and he’s a really good player too,” Williams said. “I’m always impressed watching him on film and stuff like that like, ‘oh, I need to step it up.’”
Taylor was a big part of Alabama’s offensive line in its 2015 National Championship season. He returned in 2016, but concussions ended his season early. Taylor helped establish Alabama’s run game with his big, physical presence.
So, when Taylor went down, Alabama turned to Kirven to step up and help establish the same power that Taylor provided. Kirven had to change positions from right tackle to right guard to help the Crimson Tide.
“This is my first time playing guard so this was a new position for me, but I knew, like anything, I would have to learn it quick because if I had an opportunity to play it was coming quick,” he said.
Taylor is not shy to position changes. He started his career as a defensive tackle before flipping to the offensive side of the ball during his sophomore season.
“Coach [Nick] Saban said he thinks that I could help them on the other side of the ball and I was open to the switch to see where it would go,” Kirven said. “I would like to say that it was for the better.”
Kirven has started every game for Alabama since taking over at right guard against Mississippi State. With his final games of his career looming, Kirven knows this season has been tough, but is glad he finally got the chance to prove himself.
“It was a process, it’s just when I got my opportunity I just knew I had to execute and put my best foot forward and show the coaching staff I could play,” Kirven said.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports