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Justin’s Recruiting Bites

Alabama Recruiting Update

Alabama’s 2020 recruiting class is getting busy early as the Tide has 14 verbal commits. Seven of them are from the state of Alabama, continuing the trend of Alabama keeping the talent within the state. As this recruiting cycle gets more interesting, commits and targets are setting visits to Tuscaloosa and other places.

One of the Tide’s in-state targets released a final five recently and has some official visits set. The Tide 4-Star DB commit, Jahquez Robinson, also has some visits set as he plans to camp at a couple of SEC schools and one of the Tide’s 5-Star targets are set to make their announcement this month. All of this and more is below in Justin’s Recruiting Bites:

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Ranking SEC coaches by name recognition

ByKirk McNair Apr 2, 4:30 PM

Many years ago I was making the rounds of the Waldorf Astoria in New York with Alf Van Hoose, the late sports editor of the Birmingham News. We were there for the annual National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame induction banquet, at that time a black tie, stag affair attracting virtually all of the head coaches and athletics directors in the nation.

Prior to the banquet we were visiting various rooms hosted by the likes of ABC and Sports Illustrated. We had been to a reception in the elegant apartment of W.W. “Foots” Clements, a Tuscaloosa County native who had been a back-up end to Don Hutson and Paul Bryant at Alabama and had risen to CEO of Dr Pepper. (There are apartments in the Waldorf and Clements’ was across the hall from the widow of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.)

We planned to make one last stop before the banquet and joined a group boarding an elevator. A well-dressed woman was already on the elevator. Noting that the hotel was full of men in tuxedos, she asked if it was “some sort of football thing.”

A small man in our group replied, “Yes ma’am, it is.”

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Alabama punter enters NCAA transfer portal

Another Alabama football player has entered the NCAA transfer portal.

Redshirt senior punter Mike Bernier is now in the transfer portal, 247Sports has confirmed. Matt Zentiz of AL.com was first to report the move.

A former walk-on who earned the starting punter job for the matchup with Tennessee in Knoxville, Bernier started the final eight games of the Crimson Tide’s 2018 season. He punted 25 times for 951 yards to average 38.0 yards per boot with a long of 55, dropped five punts inside the opponent 20-yard line and forced 10 fair catches on the season. He was selected as one of the coaching staff’s special teams players of the week for his play against the Volunteers.

Bernier is one of two punters on Alabama’s 2019 roster along with sophomore Skyler DeLong. The Tide also signed Hoover (Ala.) product Will Reichard this offseason, and the true freshman kicked field goals and punted in the first scrimmage of the spring this past Saturday.

“We have a new freshman kicker, who kicked well today. He also punts, and he punted well today,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “And then we have the other guys, who actually were better today than what they’ve been in the past, which is what our hope is that we can develop them and get them to improve.”

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Alabama's John Petty officially withdraws from transfer portal

ByCharlie Potter Apr 2, 12:05 PM

There is one less Alabama name in the NCAA transfer portal.

Sophomore guard John Petty has been officially withdrawn from the portal, 247Sports has confirmed. Petty entered the portal Wednesday, March 27, following the Crimson Tide and head coach Avery John parting ways. But he is returning to UA to play for new coach Nate Oats.

Petty averaged 9.9 points and 33.5 3-point shooting percentage per game a season ago.

“Petty’s a great shooter,” Oats said Monday. “We’ve got to get him a little bit better going off the dribble. Think Herb (Jones) is unbelievable coming downhill at the rim, but he didn’t have a lot of space like we play with. He’s going to be great with that. We’ve got to develop his shooting. Petty’s got to get a little bit better handle on it, Herb’s got to get better shooting it. We want guys that can pass, shoot and handle at all positions on the perimeter.” 

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Wright wanted to be part of the Crimson Tide family

De'Rickey Wright became commitment No. 14 for the Crimson Tide last week when he committed to Alabama over offers from LSU, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Texas A&M, among many others.

“I just really wanted to go there,” the Attalla (Ala.) Etowah product said. “I didn’t want to waste any time, so I just went ahead and committed. I really didn’t have the urge to build it up and everything. I just wanted to be a part of the Crimson Tide family, so I pulled the trigger.”

The Tide staff, including his primary recruiter Holmon Wiggins, were happy to learn of Wright’s decision.

“They were excited and they were ready for me to get back down there,” Wright said, recalling how the coaches reacted when he told them. “It was exciting.”

Excitement is an understatement when it comes to hometown reaction, as Wright says people out in public have been telling him Roll Tide and congratulations since he’s announced his decision.

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Tua, Taulia Tagovailoa break down scrimmage film after midnight

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Hours after Alabama’s first spring scrimmage ended and most everyone had left the football facility on Paul W. Bryant Drive, film study started for Tua and Taulia Tagovailoa.

The older brother provided the younger brother with some late-night advice after his first scrimmage.

“Just things that I see,” Tua said Monday. “I had the opportunity to bring my brother up here late at night, probably about 12:30 to 1, and just sat down with him in our offensive staff meeting room and just watched film with him. He just wanted to know the things that I’m seeing out there, and I got to help him with that.”

Tua does that with all of Alabama’s quarterbacks, but a trip to the facility after midnight is likely only reserved for a member of his family. But just like the other signal callers, the Crimson Tide’s incumbent starter wants to see Taulia succeed and is more than willing to help him do that.

“There’s a lot of things he can work on,” Tua said. “We talked about it in our quarterback room, things that I can work on, things that the other quarterbacks can work on. It’s all about getting better in our quarterback room. So, he knows he’s got to get better, and we all know we’ve got to get better. We’ve just got to push ourselves and one another.

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Tide hoops signee believes in Oats

ByHank South Apr 2, 8:05 AM

It’s been a busy last few days to say the least for Alabama men’s basketball.

Nate Oats was announced as the Crimson Tide’s next head coach last Wednesday, new offers have been extended, and visits are being made as the program looks to finish its 2019 recruiting class with a bang.

The Tide inked a three-man class last November during the Early Signing Period of Juwan Gary, Jaylen Forbes, Jaden Shackelford.

The latter gave his reaction to the latest developments and where he stands with his decision to roll with the Tide.

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Photos: Day 9 of spring practice

ByDenon McMillan Apr 1, 8:30 PM

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Wet fields pushed Alabama's spring practice indoors for Monday's session.

Check out photos from inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.

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Players 'gassed, worn out' after first on-court work with Oats

Nate Oats hasn’t been on the job a week yet, and he’s already worn out his Alabama players.

On the court, at least.

On Monday, the Crimson Tide men’s basketball team went through its first on-court workout with the new head coach, and during his first Hey Coach show, Oats said it was an eye-opening experience.

“Things were definitely a lot different,” Oats said at Baumhower’s Victory Grille. “The pace of play is nothing like any of them had been accustomed to. They were a little gassed and worn out. We’re not doing any conditioning, just the drills we’re running (laughs) at a little bit of a different pace than they’re used to doing. We were third in the country in offensive pace of play at Buffalo, we were ... first in transition points per game. We’re going to run that system.

“We’ve athletes down here to run it, and we’ve just got to get the culture right to where they’re going hard every day in practice.”

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Holden shines at Adidas 7on7, recruits 5-star QB to Bama

Alabama wide receiver pledge boosted his stock at the Adidas 7on7 National Championship this past weekend in Florida. He was busy helping recruit for the Crimson Tide, too.

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Instant Analysis: Monday

ByTravis Reier Apr 1, 6:03 PM

Since 2008, BamaOnLine.com's Instant Analysis has been a staple of Crimson Tide football coverage. That won't change in 2019, as we'll continue to provide Alabama fans with insight and interaction fresh from Tuscaloosa via Facebook Live.

As for items we touched on during the latest edition of IA, they included:

* Residual thoughts from spring scrimmage No. 1.

* First up close look at the running backs this spring.

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WATCH: Tide moves into second half of spring drills

Go inside Monday's practice at Alabama and watch the offensive skill players at work!

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Practice report: Alabama heads indoors after first scrimmage

Here are several observations from the media viewing portion of Monday’s practice.

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Mac Jones Battles In QB Competition

It’s going to be difficult to drop Mac Jones’s name from the Alabama football record book, but for some reason the third-year sophomore quarterback doesn’t seem to be much in the conversation of an important aspect of preparation for the 2019 season.

First, as to that record book entry. Last year’s Louisiana game was not in doubt when Jones was at quarterback for the Crimson Tide in the third quarter. Tua Tagovailoa had quarterbacked most of the first two quarters with Jalen Hurts coming in as first reliever and Alabama had a 49-0 halftime lead.

Late in the third quarter with no more scores having been recorded and Bama backed up to its six-yard line, Jones threw a short pass over the middle to Jaylen Waddle. When Waddle turns on the jets, there aren’t many in college football who can catch him, and none of them were on the field for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Waddle took it for a 94-yard touchdown, which equals the second longest in Alabama history. (AJ McCarron to Amari Cooper for 99 yards vs. Auburn is the longest and the Jones-Waddle hook-up matched the Freddie Kitchens to Michael Vaughn scoring strike against Florida in 1996.)

Although Jones saw action in 14 games as the holder on extra points and field goals, in his eight games as the third quarterback he completed 5-13 passes for 123 yards.

Now, of course, Hurts has transferred to Oklahoma.

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Veteran players recap Alabama's first spring scrimmage

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama held its first of three spring scrimmages this past Saturday.

This time of year, the defense is typically ahead of the offense. But with the Crimson Tide seeing six starters back on offense, including quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, along with several reserves that have experience, that isn’t the case this spring. And UA’s defensive players know it.

Just ask safety Xavier McKinney which offensive players stood out out him in Scrimmage 1.

“Everybody,” McKinney said. “Yeah, they all had a good scrimmage. They all look good. I think they have had their time to jell, so I think they’ve jelled well together. So, they all looked good in the scrimmage.”

Inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, the scrimmage consisted of roughly 158 plays and was just over two hours long. The game-like practice “went pretty good,” according to both Tagovailoa and McKinney, but the quarterback was more hesitant to crown the offense scrimmage winners.

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Watch five-star Young at Adidas 7-on-7 National Championship

BySteve Wiltfong Apr 1, 1:51 PM

Premium Sports won the Adidas 7-on-7 National Championship over the weekend riding the arm of five-star quarterback Bryce Young who is committed to USC.

Ranked by 247Sports as the nation's No. 1 dual-threat passer and No. 18 prospect overall, the 6-foot, 176-pound Young was precise and clutch in leading his team to a title.

Young has been committed to USC since July. The blue-chipper has also been prolific on the prep level, throwing for 3,846 yards and 39 touchdowns as a junior, 3,431 yards and 41 scores as a sophomore and 1,445 yards and 14 touchdowns freshman year.

Young will cap his prep career in January as an All-American.

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Nation's No. 1 player locks in Alabama OV

Five-star defensive lineman Bryan Bresee has set his return to Tuscaloosa.

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Alabama LB Cameron Latu showing potential at TE this spring

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Spring is a time for experimentation.

It allows Nick Saban and his coaching staff to see if a player might have a better opportunity to contribute at another position, he said, or bolster the depth for a group that was lacking beforehand.

A couple of Alabama football players have spent time at different positions during the Crimson Tide’s spring practice, including redshirt freshman linebacker Cameron Latu working at tight end.

“Obviously, losing Hale (Hentges) and Irv (Smith Jr.), we’ve got some experience issues at tight end and also some depth issues,” Saban said. “Having another guy suspended for four games next year at that position, I mean, you’re taking three out of the first four guys, so we need to get some people there. We’ve been encouraged by the progress that (Latu)’s made at that position.”

Hale Hentges and Irv Smith Jr. were Alabama’s first-team tight ends the last two seasons, and both are no longer on campus with Hentges exhausting his eligibility and Smith entering the NFL draft a year early. That left the Tide with four scholarship tights on the roster for the spring in Miller Forristall, Kedrick James -- who will be suspended -- Major Tennison and Michael Parker

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Georgia WR enjoys first trip back to T-Town as recruit

Four-star receiver Dacari Collins, one of the top overall prospects in the 2021 class, talks about his visit to Tuscaloosa over the weekend.

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Alabama is jumping on the Marcus Burris’ train early

Marcus Burris received his second SEC offer from Alabama on Friday and his recruitment is set to explode.

Burris is a product of Pleasant Grove High School in Texarkana, Texas,.  The Crimson Tide’s offer is his third overall offer. After hearing Nick Saban tell him he was going home with an offer, Burris left Tuscaloosa with a crazy feeling.

“It was crazy,” Burris said.  “Alabama has one of the best football programs and to know that I have an opportunity to play there is just a blessing.”

Arkansas is the only other SEC school to offer Burris.  They extended their offer to him on Thursday. With Burris being a rising junior, he still has some room to improve, but his sophomore highlight tape shows he has the potential to be one of the highest ranked defensive tackles in the 2021 class as Nick Saban and the Tide see it in him and plans to get him on campus again this Summer.

“I was talking to coach Saban and he told me that I had tons of potential and that they were going to offer me,” Burris said. “I also got invited to some summer camps.”

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