By HARRY KING

 

LITTLE ROCK — Garrick McGee’s quotes about offensive guard Alvin Bailey were too good to toss, but the angle about Bailey being the son of a Razorback basketball player didn’t come together.

What to do? Stash the pearls uttered by Arkansas’ offensive coordinator and wait until Bailey goes against an opponent coveted by NFL teams. 

Bailey, McGee said last spring, can be the best in the country at his position — high praise for a young man who had played 13 games of college football.

Arkansas flip-flops its linemen and Bailey is the strong guard, the one who goes against the other team’s best defensive tackle, called a three technique.

"In the SEC, the three technique is where the men are," McGee said, mentioning Marcell Dareus of Alabama and Nick Fairley of Auburn in 2010. "And we feel like we got a guy who can play against them."

Those players are big and strong, but also quick and explosive. "A lot of teams turn their three technique loose and just let them play," McGee said. "That’s why we have Alvin at that position to go against those draft picks."

Alabama’s 2011 version of Dareus is Josh Champion, considered one of the top three interior linemen available in the 2012 NFL draft.

Sometimes, Chapman will line up in front of center Travis Swanson, but the problem for Arkansas’ offense goes far beyond the 6-foot-1, 315-pound senior. Other than Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, every player on the offensive unit will have an opportunity to block somebody who has an excellent chance to play in the NFL.

Draft experts say Chapman and six other Alabama defenders will be drafted in the first two rounds next year.

Three of them are in the secondary, matched against the best group of receivers in the Southeastern Conference. Updated a week ago, CBSSports.com identified cornerback Dre’ Kirkpatrick as a top 10 pick, ahead of fellow D-backs Mark Barron and Robert Lester, both All-SEC players. 

Playing in front of Kirkpatrick, Barron, and Lester is an equally talented group.

Dont’a Hightower is a preseason All-American and running mate Courtney Upshaw is projected to be better in the NFL than Hightower. Poor, pitiful Nico Johnson won’t get picked until late in the second round, according to the website.

The Alabama defense is such that the Razorbacks have a better chance of hitting a big play than they do of putting together a 10- or 12-play drive. The latter is predicated on dominating the line of scrimmage and I can’t imagine that happening. On the other hand, it only takes one missed tackle for Joe Adams or Cobi Hamilton to turn a short completion into a TD.

Alabama is the team likely to retain possession, particularly with running backs Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy taking turns doing the toting.

Named a freshman All-American by the football writers in 2010, Bailey took a year off from football in the ninth grade to play basketball. He says his dad, Alvin Sr., who lettered in 1979, never pushed him toward one sport or the other, but Bailey stopped playing basketball after his sophomore year in high school at Broken Arrow, Okla.

A running back and wide receiver early on, Bailey was over the weight limit by fourth grade and moved to the line. At 6-5 and 319, he still dreams about playing running back.

Lining up across from Chapman, there will be no time for daydreaming.

Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is hking@arkansasnews.com.