Happy Friday, everyone. Football news will be a little slow from now until spring practice, but there are a few interesting tidbits out there to discuss. We'll start with some additional National Signing Day analysis then move on to some other stuff:
But nobody in the Davis house thinks the next generation will be handed anything because of the past. "Like I said to each coach, I'm not asking them to promise me he's going to play," said Faye Davis, Ben's mother. "I know he's going to have to work so we taught him how to work. So as a result of that, he's going to have to earn whatever. We don't want anyone handing us anything or handing him anything. He's going to have to work and that's what he's going to do."
Now that's what you want to hear from a player's Mom. While there are no sure things in college football, Ben Davis certainly looks the part of the next great Alabama linebacker. The physical talent is there, but he is also by all accounts a brilliant leader who should be a quick study. It will be a surprise if he doesn't work himself into the rotation early on and take on a full time starting role when Reuben Foster departs after next season. This linebacker class, including the overshadowed Terrell Hall, is probably the best group any team has signed in the past few years.
In all, Alabama signed four cornerbacks, adding more young talent to go along with redshirt sophomore Marlon Humphrey, sophomore Minkah Fitzpatrick and others like promising redshirt freshman Kendall Sheffield. Nigel Knott, Shyheim Carter and Mayden were all four-star recruits and ranked among the top-13 cornerbacks in this year's recruiting class. The Tide also signed cornerback Aaron Robinson, a three-star prospect from Florida who was committed to his home-state Gators before flipping his commitment to Alabama during his National Signing Day announcement ceremony on Wednesday.
Saban learned that you can never have too many elite athletes in the secondary during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Thanks to the past two classes, the Tide should be in good shape back there for the foreseeable future.
Case in point: Auburn. The Tigers finished with an impressive fourth-straight top 10 recruiting class. The bad news? Auburn's class was ranked fifth in the SEC. All four of the teams that ranked higher than Auburn are on the Tigers' schedule every year. Can Auburn make up the difference with coaching when its players arrive on campus this August? The answer could determine the fate of the Gus Malzahn Era on the plains.
With that in mind, let's discuss which teams were the biggest winners (and losers) of National Signing Day 2016. I'll be here at 10 a.m. Central to chat about it in the comments section below.
Have to love life in the SEC West, as four schools managed top ten recruiting classes. Last season Malzahn was able to lead his team built with three straight top ten classes to two solid wins in the SEC. In the spirit of sportsmanship, we wish him just as much success with this year's team.
Jim Harbaugh had four or five sleepovers and climbed a tree, doing whatever he thought it took to get a recruit to sign with Michigan. "United, we outworked them all," Harbaugh told 3,500-plus people packed into an auditorium for a unique "Signing With the Stars" event Wednesday that included Tom Brady and Derek Jeter among others. "I’m still trying to wrap my head around what just happened," former Michigan star Desmond Howard, one of the stars of the show. Spectacle aside, the news was good for Michigan as Harbaugh prepares for his second season coaching at his alma mater:
Whatever works, Jim. Whatever works.
Marvin Terry, a three-star linebacker out of Dallas, Texas, was the first player to commit to Missouri once Barry Odom took over as its coach. When National Signing Day came and went on Wednesday, however, the Tigers never received Terry's National Letter of Intent. But he had a good excuse ... well, maybe not so good ... He was in jail. In fact, Terry is still in jail as of 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, and he's been there since Jan. 25. That's when Terry was arrested on three counts of suspicion of assault.
Talk about blowing an opportunity...
Other Alabama notes:
During the semester away from Alabama, Bell spent his time coaching a little league team and working out with a personal trainer. He said he added 20 pounds while also improving his speed. He was a defensive end at Hoover High School and could play linebacker or defensive end with the Crimson Tide. But would he recommend delaying enrollment to others? "I would just say it depends on your situation," Bell said. "People, kids our age, usually look at it as a bad thing. But in the long run it can help you out."
While it would be naive to believe that player development, and not roster numbers, is the key driver behind most grayshirt requests, there can be benefits to the player since he is able to add weight without giving up his redshirt year.
Keith Holcombe's in for a busy spring. Two years after playing his last baseball game at nearby Hillcrest High School, the Alabama linebacker is back on the ball field. It was time to give baseball another try, this time at the collegiate level. Alabama baseball coach Mitch Gaspard spoke highly of Holcombe, a 37th-round MLB draft pick in 2014. It'll make for a tricky few weeks when spring football practice begins next month. A right fielder who Gaspard said could play any of the three outfield positions, will balance the two sports.
It will be a busy spring, indeed.
"We did a great job there executing in the first part of the game and getting some great looks, and then kind of went away from who we needed to be," said Alabama head coach Kristy Curry. "We kept trying to talk at media timeouts and get them settled down a little bit. We kind of panicked there, you know, at times, but we stayed the course, stuck with the game plan and showed some maturity and character. I just thought character won the second half. I'm so happy for our kids."
Nice win. Roll Tide, ladies.
Johnny Manziel has been accused of striking his then-girlfriend, Coleen Crowley, multiple times and threatening further violence on her during a Jan. 30 incident, according to WFAA 8 in Dallas. Manziel told Crowley to "shut up or I'll kill us both" after forcing her into a car, hitting her and dragging her by the hair, according to the report.
Wow. Johnny is no longer a punch line. He needs help.
The Big 12 is unlikely to stage a football championship game this year though the NCAA approved a plan last month that would allow the 10-team league to do so. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby says data presented to league athletic directors Thursday pose questions about whether the league has a better chance to get into the four-team College Football Playoff without a championship game than it would with one.
After all of the hand-wringing over this issue, all indications are that the Big 12 is going to add two more teams so that they can play a legitimate championship game. Take a look at this list of candidates to join and let us know what you think in the comments.
Just five years ago, a second college football league was born in Mexico, and some 8,000 students now play in the country's two leagues, CONADEIP and ONEFA. How much excitement is there? Both leagues start early, with feeder programs at the youth level that can take kids into the college game, where they can play in stadiums that seat upward of 30,000 people. It's boom times in Mexico for the "other" football. And nowhere is that more evident than at the Tazón de Estrellas, an annual all-star game between teams from CONADEIP and Division III schools from the U.S.
This is a great read on a really cool topic. I had no idea that there were Mexican college football leagues, and certainly didn't know that there was an annual All-Star game played against America's best Division 3 players. Great stuff.
That's about it for today. Have a great weekend, everyone.