The Jumbo Package | 03.21.14

"Heaven"

Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes.

Ranking the toughest SEC season openers - ESPN

8. ALABAMA

Alabama vs. West Virginia, in Atlanta, Aug. 30: The Saturday version of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game will give us the first glimpse of Alabama's new quarterback now that AJ McCarron is gone. The Mountaineers are always fun to watch on offense, but have to get a lot better on defense if they're going to have a chance in this one.

AW, SNAP.  Time to start talking about next season already?  Yes, always.  Also, Auburn is the toughest opening opponent for all SEC team's?  I'm not so sure about that.

Nick Saban suggests big changes to NFL combine - NFL.com

Saban spoke with former Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage on SiriusXM NFL radio, who suggested that the league consider allowing underclassmen to compete in a combine before having to decide whether to turn pro early, which would deliver a reality check for prospects with unrealistic expectations. Saban took it a step further, advocating what would be a radical change to the annual event in Indianapolis.

"The way it's going right now, I don't think the NFL really wants all these guys coming out for the draft. They know they can develop better in college if they stay and play more, unless they're going to be high draft picks," Saban said. "It's difficult for them to develop players the way they practice now, so if a player's not a high pick, it's much more difficult for them to develop as an NFL player. I even made the point that if we're not going to do something like (an underclassman combine), maybe if a guy doesn't have at least a top-three-round grade, you don't even invite him to the combine."

This is a weird suggestion to me, and I don't think there's any way it could gain traction.  You're basically proposing that teams conduct the back half of their draft blind, or at least with significantly less knowledge than they have now.

Inside the football-track juggling act as prized Alabama freshman gets first-team reps | AL.com

"There's nobody who wants those guys to start and contribute more on the football field than the track coaches," Waters said.

"We really want them to be great out there, so we understand that it takes time to understand the schemes and that's what they need to be doing right now. You love them in track and you love that they'll be able to help us win championships and be really good in the spring and the winter. "But you can't forget that they signed a football scholarship."

This is just the beginning of this dance. Hoover's Marlon Humphrey signed a football scholarship with plans to run track as well next spring. Like Brown, he was one of the top names nationally in both sports.

Talking Lane Kiffin, Alabama's quarterbacks and more with tight end Brian Vogler | AL.com

The fifth-year senior tight end has been through it enough times to feel at ease. Asked about the potential for more tight end pass plays in Lane Kiffin's offense, Vogler cracked a joke in response to his final question.

It was a walk-off.

"I sure hope so," Vogler said. "That'd be awesome. Wouldn't hurt to put some more things on film."

...then he flipped off the camera and mailed a bag of poop to Nussmeier in Ann Arbor.

Bryant-Denny Stadium field will be open to fans after Alabama's 2014 A-Day game | AL.com

Alabama fans will be allowed to walk the field after the Crimson Tide's 2014 A-Day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It's one of the new wrinkles added to this year's schedule of activities, which was announced Thursday.

Previously, the field had only been open to fans on August's Fan Day for an autograph session.There will not be an autograph session after the April 19 scrimmage.

A-Day kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. and admission is free. The game will air on ESPNU.

This is pretty cool.  I'll be at the game this year, and I'll definitely be taking advantage of the opportunity to walk on hallowed ground.

As usual, Alabama tasked with replacing big stars | Boston Herald

Backups are vying to replace not just starters but All-Americans and NFL-caliber talent who left enduring legacies and big voids. Same as last spring, and the one before that.

"It's the Bama Way," Tide center Ryan Kelly, who replaced 2011 Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones last season, said Wednesday night. "We always say it that way, get back to what we do. No matter who is getting that spot, there's still a standard to uphold. It's pressure-filled. You can call it what you want, but if you're in there you know you've got to produce for the 10 guys around you, whoever that may be."

It's just a fact of life for a team with 11 first-round draft picks over the past three years and a high turnover rate since many of those have left after their junior seasons. Now, the Tide is seeking replacements for the likes of Butkus Award-winning linebacker C.J. Mosley and quarterback AJ McCarron, the Heisman Trophy runner-up. Mosley, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio are all projected as potential first-rounders.

Everyone in the country keeps anticipating a dropoff because of the personnel losses.  Meanwhile, Saban has somehow managed to continually raise the overall talent level of the team.

Nick Saban likes what he's seeing from Alabama linebacker Dillon Lee | AL.com

After the Crimson Tide's third spring practice, Nick Saban said Lee was competing for a starting job. He didn't specify where, but the versatile Lee could be just what Alabama needs at a handful of spots in its rebuilding linebacking corps.

"I think Dillon Lee will be a really good player for us," Saban said. "I think he has a good understanding of what we want him to do. He runs well. He's got good size and plays good block protection, especially at the line of scrimmage."

Early pre-season prediction: Dillon Lee will be a household name by the end of the year.

Wide Receiver Practice Footage

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