Tuscaloosa Al, - (al.com) Freshman offensive lineman Grant Hill will likely make his Alabama debut Saturday against Georgia State, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Thursday.
Hill, a four-star recruit from Huntsville High, is listed as Alabama's third-string left tackle behind Cyrus Kouandjio and Kellen Williams. He was projected to play guard and has also been seen working at right tackle during practice.
"I don't care if we're getting beat by 40 or winning by 40, it doesn't matter," Saban said on his weekly radio show appearance. "We're going to play him because he deserves to play. He may be one of our five best players. If he is, we need to find a spot for him."
Hill was not on the sidelines for last week's game against Ole Miss because of a stomach virus but he was back at practice Tuesday.
With center Ryan Kelly out for the next few weeks with a knee injury and junior Chad Lindsay serving as his replacement, Saban said right guard Anthony Steen is also capable of playing center.
"If there's a guard that's coming along that's a really good player, I'm not a guy that's going to sit here with a bad hand ... if we can make improvements on our team," Saban said.
Four of Alabama's five starting offensive linemen redshirted their first season with the Crimson Tide. Kouandjio, who saw action as a reserve before suffering a season-ending knee injury, is the lone exception.
"Guys that have experience, there's no substitute for it," Saban said. "The only way you get it is probably playing. Sometimes, some of the best experiences you get come from the mistakes you make as long as you learn from those."
Hill, at 6-foot-6 and 301 pounds, is one of 12 Alabama freshmen who has yet to see the field this season. That number could drop by more than just one against the Panthers, Saban said.
"We have some other players who have not been playing that are improving that we may play more in the future," Saban said. "That A, creates competition but B, could actually help us.
"I have no problem playing young players. We've played a lot of young players so far this year and we're probably going to play some more before it's over."