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Jumbo Package: Monday, 18 January 2016

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Still waiting for official word on Foster and Howard...

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. Today is the deadline for juniors to declare for the NFL Draft. Thus far Alabama has retained more than expected, but we are still waiting for official word from Reuben Foster and O.J. Howard. Reports seem to be favorable:

Tide is expected to return Allen, Foster, Howard - The Anniston Star: Sports

Per an ESPN report, Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster and tight end O.J. Howard are expected to return for their senior season. Defensive end Jonathan Allen announced through his Twitter account that he is returning to Tuscaloosa for his senior season. "Let the hunt for 17 begin #WonAsOne," Allen posted Saturday afternoon. Howard caught 38 passes for 602 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season. Both touchdowns came in the national championship game victory over Clemson on Monday. Foster ranked second on the team with 73 tackles, fourth in tackles for loss (eight) and third in pass breakups (nine).

Nothing official, but things are looking up here. Hopefully each player will make an announcement today.

Title game hero announces he's returning to Alabama for 5th year | AL.com

One of the biggest heroes from Alabama's national championship win is returning for another year in Tuscaloosa. Adam Griffith announced Saturday night that he will return for a fifth year next season. The Alabama kicker played a huge role in Alabama's 45-40 win against Clemson on a perfect onside kick that gave Alabama both the ball and all the momentum. Griffith said afterwards he couldn't have hit it any better.

Have to admit, I forgot that Griffith had taken a redshirt year and had counted him back as a true senior. Had he decided against grad school and a fifth season, the Tide could have been thin in the kicking department. Welcome back and Roll Tide, Adam.

Alabama football team's 2015-16 national championship parade set for Jan. 23 | News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | WBMA

The 2015 College Football Playoff National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide will celebrate its newest trophy at a parade in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 23, the school announced today. The parade will start at 10 a.m. on University Boulevard in front of Denny Chimes and will end with a Walk of Champions ceremony on the steps of Bryant-Denny Stadium's north end zone entrance, where a program recognizing Tide head coach Nick Saban, his staff and the players will be held. The voice of Alabama football, Eli Gold, will emcee the event.

If you're near Tuscaloosa, go on down and celebrate.

Tide’s uncertain start turned into championship season

The national championship ended in dramatic fashion with Alabama holding off previously undefeated Clemson and sensational dual-threat quarterback Deshaun Watson. But it was Coker, Henry and junior tight end O.J. Howard, along with two critical special teams plays, that keyed the win. Howard summed up the season Tuesday. "We’re all like brothers in the locker room, that friendship off the field, that’s the most important thing," Howard said Tuesday. "Everyone has to be on the same page on the field, but when you can become close at home, going out, stuff like that, it builds that tremendous relationship, and I think our team does a great job with that this season."

The hardest road to the sweetest Alabama title | AL.com

This team played under more pressure for a longer period of time than any of Saban's title-winning teams. That Sept. 19 Ole Miss loss in the season's third game was the earliest on the calendar and on the schedule. It made every game from that point a playoff game. Think about it. This team won 12 straight must-win games. Seven of them against ranked teams. Seven of them away from home. To live on the edge for that long and not fall off separates this team from its predecessors.

It's never a bad time to read another article about our national champs.

Alabama LB Reggie Ragland will try new position at Senior Bowl | AL.com

"Some family members that are money hungry are going to tell you to go because they're going to try to get a piece of it," Ragland said. "I just listened to what my parents had to say. They know I'm a grown man and I have to make decisions on my own from this point forward.

There was some solid logic behind Ragland's decision to return outside of the second-round draft grade he received. "I decided to stay and in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to stay because I wanted to become a smarter player before I went to the NFL. That league is a grown man's league. Those guys have families to feed and I don't want to go in there half-stepping because I don't want to mess up somebody's family. So I wanted to be the smartest person I could be before I take the next step."

Interesting. Reggie's decision to come back had less to do with draft positioning and more to do with being a better player once he got there. That, folks, is maturity.

Recruiting Stuff:

Is 4-star Raekwon Davis still committed to Alabama? Conflicting reports emerge | AL.com

Reports from the Clarion-Ledger, Scout.com and more confirmed the commitment, and Davis told Scout that ""I just flipped to Mississippi State. I am happy to be a Bulldog." But later in the afternoon, Davis told outlets including TideSports, BamaMag and SECCountry that he was committed to Alabama. He had told AL.com that a coach had his phone and he changed his password and he was in fact committed to Mississippi State. This was around noon CT. When reached around 2:45 p.m., Davis didn't comment to AL.com. He then changed his Twitter bio back to reflect an Alabama commitment.

Davis is massive, 6-foot-7 and 318 pounds, and a top ten defensive tackle in the 2016 class. Hanging on to him has to be a priority.

4-star WR A.J. Brown has 'great' visit to Alabama, says to 'stay tuned' | AL.com

"Alabama was great," Brown wrote. "Enjoyed myself. That's all (reporters) need to know. Stay tuned." Brown, who is from Starkville, Miss., is a 6-foot-1, 220-pound four-star receiver. He's rated as the No. 59 overall recruit in the 247Sports composite and was one of several receiver recruits in Tuscaloosa this weekend, including Patterson, La., four-star Mykel Jones, Crawfordville, Fla., four-star Keith Gavin and IMG Academy four-star LSU commit Drake Davis.

Brown is a big target as well, and certainly seemed to have some fun with Coach Saban:

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh takes college football recruiting to a whole new level - Orlando Sentinel

I can't tell if Jim Harbaugh is crazy, a genius or perhaps a bit of both. But here's the thing, as crazy as Harbaugh's antics seem, they're also some of the most brilliant. Recruiting is all about egos. Most high school players love the attention heaped upon them from the thousands of recruiting flyers that overflow their mailboxes to the personal, in-home visits by coaches. Families sometimes welcome coaches into their homes like long lost relatives, offering them a hearty meal and warm place to sit down and rest their weary bones after a tough day of recruiting.

Recruiting is certainly a tough business, and Harbaugh obviously has the work ethic, but showing up at midnight to spend the night at a high school kicker's house, then following him to school the next day? Nothing creepy about that, Jim. Nothing at all.

Other Sports:

Bama Basketball Bracketology Breakdown - Roll 'Bama Roll

So, I took to the interwebs, the blogosphere, the World Wide Web, to see what the "experts" thought of Alabama Basketball so far. Namely: where the team would fall in the NCAA Tournament. So far, the sports blogosphere is very mixed on the Tide's chops for the Big Dance. Three different sites, all with differing opinions at this point.

Nice fanpost from reader BoilerTide summarizing some of the expert opinions on the Tide's postseason chances.

Alabama Women's Basketball Battles Past Georgia, 64-50, in Front of Record Crowd - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletic Site

The Alabama women's basketball team collected its 11th win of the season at home on Sunday with a 64-50 victory over Georgia in front of a Foster Auditorium record crowd of 3,732. Sophomore Karyla Middlebrook scored a career-high tying 17 points, while senior Nikki Hegstetter posted a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds to pace the Crimson Tide. With the win, Alabama stands at 13-5 overall and 2-3 in Southeastern Conference play

Alabama Gymnastics Beats Auburn, 196.875-196.075 in the Elevate The Stage Meet - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletic Site

The Alabama gymnastics won the second annual Elevate The Stage meet, outscoring in-state rival Auburn 196.875-196.075 in the BJCC Legacy Arena. It was the Crimson Tide’s second win in just over 48 hours and its third meet in eight days. "This is the kind of performance we’re going to need to advance at the national championships," UA head coach Dana Duckworth said. "It was the kind of performance where everybody is nervous, everybody wants the same thing, but we just have to focus on one thing at a time."

Women's hoops is off to a solid start and gymnastics beat Auburn for the 117th consecutive time. Roll Tide, Ladies.

That's about it for today, folks. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.