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Festivities announced; four players to be honored at Alabama’s spring game

Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

Next week could draw the biggest crowd of the Nick Saban era to Bryant-Denny Stadium, as this year’s spring game is set to be the most highly-anticipated one since 2008. 

For fans of Alabama football, A-Day is a time to be with family, catch up with old friends from college and enjoying a dominant football program.

Per a press release from the University of Alabama athletics department, the festivities for the spring game will include photos with the Orange Bowl Trophy, shopping at the Bama Style Shop, taking in an Alumni Flag Football Game and watching four players from the 2018 team get their hand print and cleat print enshrined at Denny Chimes in the honor of being team captains. 

The four players are Damien Harris, Christian Miller, Hale Hentges and Ross Pierschbacher.  

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Nick Saban likes Harris & Robinson, but wants to see freshmen emerge

Adam Hagy - USA TODAY Sports

Alabama football may have a pure two-headed monster at running back for the first time since 2014 – T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry – however, head coach Nick Saban still is one for seeing freshmen make contributions at the position. 

Since 2008, a list of players that include Yeldon, Henry, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Kenyan Drake all were pivotal guys as freshmen.

The duo of Najee Harris and Brian Robinson Jr., have earned the right to set the tone for Alabama’s rushing attack next fall. 

Despite their difference in size, running styles and star rating upon signing their letter of intent for the Crimson Tide, Saban looks at both as leaders who are “ready to take the next step.” 

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Mocking the Crimson Tide: Alabama in the 2019 NFL Draft

With just three weeks to go until the 2019 NFL Draft, prognosticators across the country are making their mock picks. Several former Alabama players are in play to be first round picks. DL Quinnen Williams and OL Jonah Williams are unanimous picks for the first round. Most observers think RB Josh Jacobs will join them but not everyone agrees on that. And then there are a few who think TE Irv Smith Jr. could sneak his way into the Day 1 festivities. Below are a few of the top Mocks:

PickTeamRyan Wilson CBSChris Trapasso CBSR.J. White CBSPete Prisco CBSWill Brinson CBSJared Dubin CBSCharles Davis NFL.comChad Reuter NFL.comPeter Schrager NFL.comLance Zierlein NFL.comBucky Brooks NFL.com
1Arizona Cardinals
2San Francisco 49ersQuinnen Williams
3New York JetsQuinnen Williams
4Oakland RaidersQuinnen WilliamsQuinnen Williams (AZ mock trade from OAK )Quinnen WilliamsQuinnen WilliamsQuinnen WilliamsQuinnen WilliamsQuinnen Williams
5Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6New York Giants
7Jacksonville Jaguars
8Detroit LionsQuinnen Williams
9Buffalo BillsQuinnen Williams
10Denver Broncos
11Cincinnati BengalsJonah WilliamsJonah WilliamsJonah Williams
12Green Bay Packers
13Miami DolphinsJonah WilliamsJonah Williams
14Atlanta FalconsJonah WilliamsJonah WilliamsJonah Williams
15Washington Redskins
16Carolina PanthersJonah WilliamsJonah Williams
17New York Giants
18Minnesota VikingsJonah Williams
19Tennessee TitansIrv Smith
20Pittsburgh Steelers
21Seattle Seahawks
22Baltimore Ravens
23Houston Texans
24Oakland RaidersJosh Jacobs
25Philadelphia EaglesJosh JacobsJosh JacobsJosh JacobsJosh JacobsJosh Jacobs
26Indianapolis Colts
27Oakland Raiders
28Los Angeles Chargers
29Kansas City ChiefsJosh JacobsDeionte Thompson
30Green Bay PackersJosh Jacobs
31Los Angeles Rams
32New England Patriots

Part 2:

PickTeamDaniel Jeremiah NFL.comWalter Cherepinsky Walter FootballCharlie Campbell Walter FootballLance Cartelli 247SportsMel Kiper ESPNTodd McShay ESPNDraftwire / USA TodayBen Standig NBCRobert Klemko Sports IllustratedVinnie Iyer Sporting News
1Arizona Cardinals
2San Francisco 49ersQuinnen WilliamsQuinnen WilliamsQuinnen Williams
3New York JetsQuinnen Williams
4Oakland RaidersQuinnen WilliamsQuinnen WilliamsQuinnen WilliamsQuinnen Williams (AZ mock trade from OAK )Quinnen Williams
5Tampa Bay BuccaneersQuinnen Williams
6New York Giants
7Jacksonville Jaguars
8Detroit Lions
9Buffalo BillsJonah WilliamsJonah Williams
10Denver Broncos
11Cincinnati Bengals
12Green Bay Packers
13Miami DolphinsJonah Williams
14Atlanta FalconsJonah Williams
15Washington Redskins
16Carolina PanthersJonah Williams
17New York GiantsJonah WilliamsJonah Williams
18Minnesota VikingsJonah WilliamsJonah WilliamsJonah Williams
19Tennessee Titans
20Pittsburgh Steelers
21Seattle Seahawks
22Baltimore Ravens
23Houston TexansJosh Jacobs
24Oakland RaidersJosh JacobsJosh JacobsJosh Jacobs
25Philadelphia EaglesJosh JacobsJosh Jacobs
26Indianapolis Colts
27Oakland RaidersJosh JacobsJosh Jacobs
28Los Angeles Chargers
29Kansas City Chiefs
30Green Bay PackersMack WilsonIrv Smith
31Los Angeles Rams
32New England PatriotsIrv SmithIrv Smith
It seems pretty clear that Quinnen Williams will not last beyond the fourth pick.Jonah Williams looks like he will hear his name called somewhere between Nos. 11-18.Many ‘mockers’ see Philadelphia in Josh Jacobs’ future.Kiper seems bullish on LB Mack Wilson going to the Bengals in the second round (#42).Kiper projects RB Damien Harris at #54 to the Texans.The Raiders have three first round picks. They could land both Quinnen and Jacobs.
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Greg Penn sees Tide offer as a way to keep DMV pipeline going

Alabama has recruited the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area very hard over the last couple of recruiting cycles and with Greg Penn receiving an offer from the Tide recently, this Trend shows no sign of slowing down.

Penn is a linebacker in the 2021 recruiting class. He is a product of Dematha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland,. He considers Alabama’s offer to be a dream come true.

“It is a dream come true to know I have an offer from the school I always dreamed of going to,” Penn said.

The Crimson Tide were able to grab Demarcco Hellams out of Dematha Catholic in 2019. He was joined by other DMV products: Keilan Robinson, Darrian Dalcourt and Shane Lee. The area has also produced current and former Tide players.

Da’Shawn Hand, Jonathan Allen and Terrell Lewis all have roots in the area. Penn said he feels the success the guys before him have had in Tuscalooa has Nick Saban wanting to keep the pipeline going.

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Jumbo Package: Young wide receivers standing out this spring

Not exactly what you want to hear 2/3rds of the way through Spring camp, is it?

“I like people not to do what they feel like doing but to choose to do what they need to do to get better, and that has been very, very good all spring. Today, it could have been better. I think practice went better as we went. We need to keep working on that.”

Early in Wednesday’s practice, Saban said the players sent him a signal that the “mental toughness” and “ability to sustain in difficult circumstances” need to be points of emphasis this offseason.

The rest of Saban’s presser right here.

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Alabama DB Jared Mayden trying to lock up starting role at free safety

Kyle Terada - USA TODAY Sports

He mentioned on Wednesday that he is not for the “Poor Me” movement when it comes practicing under tough conditions; however, Nick Saban is a huge proponent of seeing players prove they deserve a starting job on either side of the football for the University of Alabama. 

As a returning senior, Jared Mayden is one of five guys in competition to start at free safety – opposite Xavier McKinney. Mayden, a former four-star from Texas, arrived on campus in the 2016 recruiting class and has 23 career tackles. The 6-foot, 200-pound defender totaled 18 tackles last season and posted two pass breakups, one tackle for loss and one sack. 

While possesses the skill set of a hard hitter, the ability to defend pass patterns and lock on to some of the elite receivers in college football is the next phase for Mayden.

In coming behind Eddie Jackson, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Deionte Thompson, he has to show Saban and the coaching staff that he can create turnovers and generate points off the takeaways for the Tide. 

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Practice Report: Henry Ruggs III Returns to Practice

via: Touchdown Alabama

With A-Day vastly approaching, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide look to refine their skills before the annual spring game. It never hurts to have one of your best wide receivers return to practice, but it’s never a great sign when someone new joins the black jersey unit.

Listed below are notes from practice:

-Shyheim Carter continues to practice, although mainly working with the second group of defensive backs.

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Keilan Robinson looks to bounce back from injury

Alabama running back signee, Keilan Robinson, posted a picture via Instagram on Wednesday with the caption, “Turning minor set backs into major comebacks. Don’t count me out.”

Robinson was ranked as a 4-Star running back coming out of St. John’s High School in Washington, D.C.,. He missed some of his senior season due to a lower body injury.

*Story will be updated.

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Justin Smith is a Scouting/Recruiting analyst for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via @Jdsmith31Smith

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Alabama Baseball Loses To Troy, 8-4

A short handed Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team lost for the first time midweek on Tuesday night when they lost to Troy 8-4. The Tide is now 20-10 overall, 18-3 in out of conference games, and 8-1 in game versus in state schools. Several players were “not available for various reasons” according to coach Brad Bohannon. Most noticeable being starting outfielder Keith Holcombe, and starting second baseman Morgan McCullough. Bohannon also stated that everyone should be available for this weekend’s SEC foe, South Carolina.

Freshman Connor Shamblin started on the mound for the Tide, and had a perfect first inning. In the second, the Trojans used three walks and a grand slam home run to take control of the game with an early 4-0 lead. In his two innings of work, Shamblin allowed one hit, three walks, three strikeouts, and four runs, all earned.

Bama got one run back in the bottom of the second, but as has been the case all year, left more meat on the bone. The first three batters walked, but the Tide was only able to score once, on a sacrifice fly by Daniel Carinci who started in the place of McCullough.

Wil Freeman followed Shamblin on the mound and quickly found himself in trouble. A leadoff walk was followed by an error and an RBI single for a 5-1 deficit. Freeman struck out Cole Prestegard for out one, then gave up back-to-back singles before being replaced by Chase Lee. Lee got a ground out that scored one run, and a pop up to get out of the inning. Freeman lasted 1⁄3 inning, with three hits allowed, one walk, one strikeout, three runs (1 earned) allowed.

In the third, the Tide blew a chance to cut into the lead after the first three batters reached safely, but the team failed to score. Kolby Robinson led off with a routine single, but tried to stretch it into a double and was easily out at second. The next two batters walked, followed by two fly balls to center field that would have been sacrifice flies to score runs had Robinson stayed on first. In the bottom of the fourth, Justin King led off the frame with an opposite field home run to left. That was the last Bama baserunner until John Trousdale entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh and lined a solid single.

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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

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.”

Here’s a little crootin’ news to kick off Gump Day. Wright committed last week and it went way under the radar with all the hoopla surrounding the hoops program. He’s a positionless recruit at the moment, but is a 6’3” 220 pound player that can play safety, linebacker, or most anywhere on offense.

Plus he has a refreshing attitude. I don’t think this is a guy that will have much drama in his recruitment.

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Former Tide RB Damien Harris to visit Cowboys on Wednesday

© Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

With Josh Jacobs improving his 40-time and Quinnen Williams scheduled to meet with the Oakland Raiders, things are going according to plan for two stars from the Crimson Tide that project as first-round picks for the NFL Draft. 

Damien Harris, another former Tide standout, is anticipating hearing his name called during the venue – which goes from Thursday, April 25 to Saturday, April 27 from Nashville, Tenn. 

A native of Kentucky and former five-star prospect, Harris will meet with the Dallas Cowboys for a visit and a pre-draft workout on Wednesday.

News came from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network as Dallas lacks depth in its backfield behind four-year veteran, Ezekiel Elliot. 

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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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Josh Jacobs Reruns 40 Yard Dash at Second Pro Day

via: Mark J. Rebilas USA Today Sports

According to Ian Rapoport, former Alabama running back and first-round hopeful Josh Jacobs ran his 40-yard dash again today at the teams second pro day.

The 220-pound tailback had times which ranged from 4.52-4.56 which is an improvement over his times from his first pro day which ranged from 4.63-4.66. Jacobs who faced much criticism over his times was also battling a groin injury before the pro day and was not nearly 100 percent healthy.

The NFL Draft will take place on Thursday, April 25 and Jacobs has been projected as a mid to late first round pick. Maybe his performance today will help tip the scales of some NFL front offices.

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AAF Suspends Play Due To Finances, Is This the End?

Has the end already come for the new AAF football league? Will we ever see the first season end with a championship? Read and see what you think.

By: Larry Burton

Just eight weeks into their inaugural season the AAF, professional football’s fledgling spring league, is suspending operations, at least for now, according to reports from  Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal.

The key word here is suspending, not ending. The problem as with most of the startup leagues is money and this one is no exception.

Tom Dundon, the league owner, made this decision over objections from the founders of the league, Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian who have been vocal about keeping the league going. This reported by The Action Network’s Darren Rovell. There have been stories for weeks of the league hemorrhaging money and Dundon as owner stands to lose almost 70 million should the league fold because he has been using his money to prop things up in the short term.

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Breaking: Alabama Punter Mike Bernier Enters Transfer Portal

via: Touchdown Alabama

According to Al.com, Alabama punter Mike Bernier entered the NCAA transfer portal earlier today. Bernier a redshirt senior, was the punter for the last eight games of the 2018-19 season.

Sophomore Skyler Delong is now the only punter on the roster.

More details to come.

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Malachi Moore plans to enroll early

Malachi Moore announced he plans to graduate early and enroll in the school he signs to in January on Sunday via Twitter.

Moore is a 2020 4-Star defensive back out of Trussville, Alabama,. He is the No. 1 ranked defensive back in the state. His physical nature has other teams still on the hunt for him as they attempt to get him away from the grasp of the Tide.

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Jumbo Package: Tide returns to practice looking to improve upon scrimmage performance

Freddie Kitchens may or may not win with the Browns, but he’s going to be entertaining along the way.

The birth of a powerhouse swim and dive team is well underway. The men took 7th at NCAA Nationals — their fourth top-10 finish in the past five years and sixth top-15 finish in a row at the national championships. The women placed 14th (its best finish ever) and Kensey McMahon earned All-American honors. Both teams are coached by Denny Pursley.

Tua Tagovailoa spoke to the media yesterday, and recapped his scrimmage as well as what Coach Sark does differently than the Locks/Enos tandem:

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Hey, Coach: This time, it was Oats doing the toasting — New basketball coach promises culture change

New basketball coach Nate Oats made an appearance on “Hey Coach” at Baumhower’s last night. And, buddy, was the hyperkinetic head man spitting fire.

From demanding Bob’s staff tear down posters of Avery Johnson...

To knocking the team’s lack of conditioning and rudimentary skills level...

“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.

To their accustomed effort...

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2019 Alabama Crimson Tide Spring Football unit preview: Quarterback — the best player in the country

Enjoy him for 15 more games.

By Erik Evans Apr 2, 2019, 7:45am CDT

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Superstar

This Tua Tagovailoa kid is pretty good. I think we should keep him. He didn’t throw an interception until the 9th game of the season, a road win over LSU, which was also the first time he had to actually play in the fourth quarter. Along the way, playing mainly in the first halves of games, Tua completed 355 of 455 passes (69%, nice) for 3966 yards, 43 passing touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. He didn’t have a multi-pick game until the SECCG. And, while a testament to his escapability as much the offensive line’s excellent play, he only had one game where he took more than one sack (MSU 4). He chipped in another 5 scores on the ground, rushing 57 times for 190 yards. And, importantly, Tua led a ‘Bama offense that scored almost 50 points per game and became the first team since the 1988 Yale Elis to beat all of its regular season opponents by 20+. While his first half could have gone better against Clemson — to put it mildly — he still had a complete game that would otherwise be quite acceptable against an elite defense: 294 yards, 65% completion percentage, 2 TD, 2 Ints, just one sack taken.

People were impressed, and his trophy case grew fat:

Sporting News College Football Player of the Year; CFPA National Performer of the YearMaxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, National Quarterback Club College Quarterback of the YearHeisman Trophy runner-upFirst-Team All-American, First-Team All-SEC, Consensus All-AmericanSEC Offensive Player of the Year

SEC (also are school records):

QBR (199.4. Surpassed Baker Mayfield’s 2017 FBS record)Yards per attempt (11.2); yards per play (10.1)Passing TDs in a season (43)Single-season passing yardage (3,966)

Alabama

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Alabama to grow more consistency at inside linebacker for 2019 season

© Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

He carries as much enthusiasm as other game-changing inside linebackers before him at the University of Alabama; however, Dylan Moses cannot do everything on his own.  

A native of Baton Rouge, La., the former five-star and returning junior finished last season as one of three finalists for the Dick Butkus Award – which goes to the best linebacker in high school, college and professional ranks. Lyndell “Mack” Wilson wanted the title of calling plays defensively, but it was Moses that was more prepared for the role through 15 games in 2018. 

He led the team in total tackles (86) as a sophomore and was among team leaders in tackles for loss (10) and sacks (3.5), to help the Crimson Tide secure a Southeastern Conference Championship and a 45-34 victory over Oklahoma in the Capital One Orange Bowl. 

Regardless of Moses being back as a leader and potentially first-round pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the inside ‘backer spot is the weakest one for Alabama this spring. No one else matches him with in-game experience and following the first scrimmage on last week, Nick Saban said the players at the position (especially the young ones) have a lot of work before fall camp. 

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