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Jumbo Package: Monday, 28 March 2016

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Your source for Crimson Tide news and notes...

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. We have several links to get you started this week:

Tide's Howard ready to build off breakout performances - Dothan Eagle: University Of Alabama Sports

"O.J., quite honestly, should have been more involved all year long," Saban said at the time. "… I would say it’s bad coaching on my part that he didn’t have the opportunity to do that all year long, because he is a really good athlete, and he’s improved tremendously as a player this year."

Howard got the message, but credited Saban for his "neutrality" as Howard weighed his NFL options. "He’s kind of the type that’s neutral. But he lets you know, ‘I think you can improve on this.’ ‘I think it will be helpful if you come back and do this,’" Howard said. "

… Coach tries to really let you decide. He does a great job of telling you what you can improve on if you came back."

Alabama's team leadership a 'work in progress' during spring - TimesDaily: Alabama Football

"I’m a different kind of leader. Jon (Allen) is a different kind of leader," Anderson said Wednesday. "I like to lead by example. If I want a guy to run to the ball, I’m going to run to the ball every play."

Each season, Alabama creates a leadership group among several players that Saban expects to police the locker room and keep any unwanted distractions from becoming potential on-field issues. "Leadership is something our team needs. Last year, we had great leadership. We need the same thing this year," Tide senior tight end O.J. Howard said.

"I feel like I’m one of the leaders on the team. Other guys that are older are leaders, also. We have to lead by example, do the right things. Leadership is going to play a big role this year and I think it starts with myself as one of the older guys."

Howard is certainly saying all of the right things this spring. There are no college defenses with the athletes to cover all of the weapons on a healthy 2016 Alabama offense. Howard has an opportunity to be a legitimate superstar who becomes a top 15 pick.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban thinks there is a better way for NFL to deal with early draft prospects - Alabama - Scout

"And guys say 'I'm going to do it for my family' and all that. You'll do better for your family if you stay in school and graduate from college and make more money next year. Look at the record of the number of guys that we've had that had third and second round grades and moved up and became first round picks since we've been here, and look at the position and status of their career.

"So that's an issue for everyone. The NFL doesn't want it and it effects the quality of college football, but more importantly, it affects the young man and his future in terms of developing a career off the field and giving him the best chance to have a career on the field."

This will be interesting to watch at the draft in April. Far too many underclassmen are declaring, which hurts both the player and the game. Several remedies are possible, including a window for players to change their minds after going through the Combine and getting updated grades. Of course, many of those players have stopped going to class by then and thus wouldn't be eligible anyway. Saban makes a great point about the NFL's lack of player development. They simply don't have time for anyone who isn't ready to make a decent contribution from day one.

Nation's No. 2 prospect visiting Alabama on Monday |

Dylan Moses, the five-star linebacker from IMG Academy who has said that Alabama is his No. 1 school, said on his Twitter account that he would make an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa on Monday.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Moses is originally from Baton Rouge, La., and was committed to LSU early in his high school career, but decommitted last summer. Moses dropped to the No. 2 prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings behind Alabama five-star running back commit Najee Harris.

He is the nation's No. 1 defensive player and outside linebacker.

For all of the crazy recruiting success Alabama has enjoyed under Saban, signing the consensus top two players in the country would be a first.

Alabama football's starting lineup after first week of spring

- Two very well-known returning starters are missing from the second lineup in Cam Robinson and Jonathan Allen. The duo has been limited in drills and watching their teammates go through drills with contact. That’s one of the main reasons for the shakeup along the offensive line. That, and the experimentation of Pierschbacher at center, which is going well.

Saban seems pleased with Ross Pierschbacher at the center position, which is an interesting development. J.C. Hassenauer would then compete at the vacant left guard spot along with several other candidates. Bradley Bozeman is manning the starting spot on this list. Take a look - any surprises?

Alabama players with plenty to prove over the next 3 weeks of spring - TimesDaily: Sports

Kendall Sheffield, R-Fr. CB: Considered one of the more talented of Alabama’s signees a year ago, the former five-star Sheffield seemingly became the forgotten prospect with the rapid rise of fellow freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick.

But Sheffield was a scout team standout last season. He could easily work his way into the rotation at corner to replace NFL-bound Cyrus Jones. Sheffield is working behind Fitzpatrick, but also is seeing first-unit reps at the star/nickel position Fitzpatrick shone at last season. With solid play during scrimmages, Sheffield could continue to climb the depth chart this spring.

The talent in the secondary is absurd. As long as the leadership emerges as expected, limiting communication issues, there is no reason to believe that there will be any appreciable drop-off on that side of the ball.

Alabama Swimming and Diving Takes Sixth at 2016 NCAA Championships, Highest Finish Since 1983 - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletic Site

The Alabama swimming and diving team never took its foot off the accelerator during the 2016 NCAA Championships, including during a strong final night of competition, taking sixth place Saturday in the McAuley Aquatic Center on the Georgia Tech campus.

"I couldn’t be more proud of the team," UA head coach Dennis Pursley said. "It’s been a big culture change for them over the last three or four years and these guys have bought into it and they’ve taken big step forward in each of those years and this was another one tonight." The Crimson Tide tallied 225 points over the four-day championship, the most in program history, to post the Alabama’s best NCAA finish since taking fifth place in 1983. Texas won the team title, followed by California, Florida, N.C. State and Georgia. With Alabama in sixth, Tennessee took seventh while Missouri, Indiana and Auburn rounded out the top 10.

As reader Adeleswims mentions in this fanpost, swimming is the one sport that Auburn could cling to and claim dominance over Alabama. That seems to be coming to an abrupt end.

Alabama Softball Splits Saturday Doubleheader Against Missouri - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletic Site

Alabama Softball split a Saturday doubleheader against SEC foe Missouri, falling in the opener, 7-3, before bouncing back with a five-inning win, 9-1. Alabama (28-6, 2-3 SEC) dropped the opener as Missouri (24-5, 3-2 SEC) jumped ahead early and held its lead throughout the game. The script flipped for game two, as the Crimson Tide scored five unanswered runs to start the game and held on for the run-rule victory.

The Tide is currently ranked #8 in the country. Unfortunately there are four other SEC teams ranked in the top seven.

Last but not least, we posted this video to the RBR Facebook page (which, by the way, you need to "like" if you haven't already) on Saturday morning to give folks a little pick-me-up. It was well received, so I'll put it here as well. It's a great three minutes that will definitely brighten a Monday.

That's about it for today. Have a great week, everyone. Roll Tide.