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Catching Up: Alabama News and Notes

As I'm sure you are aware, it has been a slow few weeks on RBR. Todd, Nico, and myself have all been quite busy, and as a result substantive posts have been very few and far between. Unfortunately, though, a lot has happened in the past few weeks that we have not been able to address and give it a thorough rundown, so I'll attempt to catch up quickly on all of the news and give a brief look into each tidbit. Here goes:

  • At the recent "Crimson Caravan" stop in Tuscaloosa, Coach Nick Saban gave an update on the status of Prince Hall. According to Coach Saban, Hall had not yet done all that he needs to do in order to rejoin the team, and moreover he noted that even if Hall was allowed to rejoin the team, he would be suspended for a number of games once the season started. In other words, even if he does come back (not a given), you can forget about him playing against Clemson, and probably the next couple of games as well. We might have him back in the lineup when we travel to Fayetteville and Athens for games four and five, respectively, but it means that, at the very least, we'll either have Jimmy Johns or a true freshman starting at inside linebacker alongside McClain once we head to Atlanta to face Clemson.
  • Charles Hoke has been put on medical scholarship and his career as an Alabama football player has officially come to an end. Hoke was a tight end recruit out of Birmingham's Briarwood Christian, but his career at Alabama simply never materialized. Nevertheless, we should all tip our caps to Hoke for going out the right way. He's a fine student -- he will be seeking his MBA at Alabama -- and by sticking throughout the Spring with good grades, his departure will not hurt us in terms of the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate. He fought through Spring on the offensive line, with a bum shoulder, just to help out the team, and for that we should all be thankful. Best of luck, Mr. Hoke.
  • Colin Peek had his transfer waiver request officially denied by the NCAA. In all honesty, the decision comes as no shock, and in all fairness it is the right decision. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett had his request officially denied as well, so it actually worked out for the best for us -- it's better to not have Peek than to face the Hogs with Mallett. Peek, though, did have a great Spring, and he should start at tight end in 2009.
  • The NCAA, in other administrative measures, also approved a handful of other rule changes for the 2008 season. The major rule changes include the move to a 40-second play clock, eliminating the five-yard face mask penalty, and also banning the horsecollar tackle. I'll have a more in-depth piece up later on the impact and practical effect of the rule changes later, but at the least it deserves attention that those proposed rule changes have become official at this point.
  • Speaking of the APR, the most recent report regarding Alabama had nothing but good news. The Tide football program scored a 944, which puts us in the top forty percent of football programs, and far removed from any potential sanctions. When the APR debuted a couple of years ago, we were pretty borderline, but thankfully the academics of the program have improved greatly, and possible sanctions are no longer potentially looming. And furthermore, given that the freshman class averaged a GPA of above 3.0 in their first year, it does not seem like the APR will be an issue for the Tide in the future.
  • Recruiting continues to go well for the Tide, as Alabama has picked up three commitments in the past month. The biggest of those commitments came from Mobile quarterback AJ McCarron, who is rated as the top quarterback prospect in the state, and who is generally considered the top quarterback prospect to come out of the state of Alabama since JaMarcus Russell in 2003. I'll reserve further speculation regarding this recruiting class for a later piece specifically devoted to 2009 recruiting, but for now just know that we have picked up a few commitments -- four to be precise -- and that it looks like 2009 will bring yet another great recruiting haul for the Nicktator.
  • About ten days ago, the Alabama High School Athletic Association held the annual state track championships in Gulf Shores. Alabama signee Mark Barron -- a five-star recruit who will play safety for the Tide -- entered four events, and won all four. In fact, Barron effectively dominated, winning the shot put, discus throw, long jump, and triple jump, mostly by rather large margins. A lot of people, myself included, think Barron will start almost ASAP when he arrives in Tuscaloosa later this year, and nothing he did at the state track championships would dispel that notion. That kid is nothing short of an athletic beast, and I imagine we'll be hearing his name called out against Clemson. 
  • Tide signee Destin Hood, a teammate of Mark Barron, is most likely headed to play Major League Baseball. It's almost a given at this point that he will be a first round selection, and he will be given a signing bonus of over one million dollars. His father confirmed a few days ago that he would go and play baseball if the money was right, and it seems all but a certainty that it will be. Hood is a great prospect, and it would be great to have him in Tuscaloosa this Fall, but with the kind of money he is looking to have on the table, he would be a fool to turn it down.