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Jumbo Package: Friday, 22 April 2016

Your daily dose of news and notes...

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. We have a big weekend on the diamond as the baseball team travels to take on #3 Texas A&M in College Station and the softball team celebrates Alumni Weekend as they host Kentucky. We have a few football links for you as well:

Saban or Bear? Though Alabama fans squirm, answer may be simple -

If Saban wins his sixth title in 2016, we're talking about an accomplishment beyond historic. It will be his fifth in an eight-year span at Alabama. He will have won six overall (one at LSU) in a 14-year period. Bryant won his six in 19 years. That reckoning came for 50 students and fans during a recent afternoon on campus and around T-Town.

CBS Sports surveyed them, asking this three-part question: If Saban wins No. 6 to tie Bear, how do you define him: Is he the greatest coach ever, better than Bear or something else entirely?

Way to stir the pot, CBS. The pure numbers speak for themselves in favor of Saban, but there are many factors at play. We have little else to talk about right now, so why not? Who is the greatest coach in Alabama history - Paul Bryant or Nick Saban? Answer the poll and tell us in the comments.

The SEC's best job? Steve Spurrier should know Alabama's superior |

"What are the best two jobs in the SEC? I think Georgia and LSU are basically the best two," Spurrier said. "Of course, Nick Saban has made Alabama the best right now. But as far as recruiting advantages, LSU doesn't have much competition in their state, and Georgia pretty much should own their state there."

Valid points, but there's more to a good job than having an in-state recruiting advantage in a talent-rich state. Spurrier himself used to wonder how Georgia had better players on signing day but Florida's players were better on game day.

That was evil genius.

Spurrier loves a good troll, but he always saved his best stuff for Georgia and particularly Mark Richt. In saying that UGA is one of the two best jobs in the conference he is simultaneously jabbing Richt for not winning the conference since 2005.

Five years later, Alabama football players recall role after Tuscaloosa tornado |

Saban knew their role went beyond the ground game. The next day, safety Will Lowery remembers sitting in the team meeting room of the football complex spared by less than a mile from the storm's scar. "I remember Coach Saban specifically talking about the fact that Alabama football means so much to so many people in the area and just how important it was to everybody," Lowery said five years later.

"The opportunity that we had to be a bright spot, winning, being successful and just positive energy in general during tough times was very important to be there any way we could."

We are approaching the five-year anniversary of the Tuscaloosa tornado, and will undoubtedly have all kinds of stories from those reflecting on what had to be the most harrowing moment in most Tuscaloosa residents' lives. That 2011 title that came with so much controversy provided a little bit of joy for so many who needed it.

The Alabama senior Nick Saban calls 'one of a kind' |

Greene lost a few pounds this spring from his 307-pound playing weight last season in his evolution as a full-time tight end. He is known primarily as a blocking tight end -- he came in on Alabama's jumbo packages with A'Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed last season -- and will never be a primary passing option the way fellow tight end O.J. Howard should be in 2016. Greene has only one catch in his Alabama career -- a big 24-yard catch against LSU in 2014 -- and mostly helps out on running plays.

Wait... he came in on Alabama's what?

Greene has been a team player since he arrived on campus, shuttling between tackle and tight end. With a glut of tackle prospects on the roster, he has now moved to tight end full time. He should see plenty of action.

Southern Cal OC Tee Martin said Trojans preparing for Alabama, Tim Williams |

"He's phenomenal," he said. "Obviously, you have to have a plan for him. In our league, there are guys like that, but not exactly like him. He's pretty special. It's a great opportunity for our guys in the first game. "That's about all you're going to get today."

Martin did say the Trojans have already started preparations for the defending national champions.

Tim Williams is a perfect example of a guy who can earn his way back from purgatory. In case you forgot, it was only year before last that Williams was suspended for the better part of fall camp by Saban and wasn't in game shape to start the season. There were calls from some to cut bait with him at that point. Let's be glad Saban saw the big picture.

Patience paying off for two veteran Alabama defensive backs? |

Smith is one of two veteran Tide defensive backs who have had to be patient but are very much in the mix to play significant roles this season.

Redshirt junior cornerback Anthony Averett, arguably the fastest player on Alabama's team, is the other. Both got reps with the Tide's first-team defense this spring — Smith at safety and at nickel back and Averett as the cornerback opposite returning starter Marlon Humphrey.

In reality, the two are battling for playing time. For this season, expect Averett to be a rotational guy outside with Maurice Smith starting at Star. Assuming Humphrey heads to the NFL as expected - with his size, speed, pedigree, and coverage skills he will be a lock in the top half of the first round - Averett would be a likely candidate to start outside opposite Fitzpatrick in 2017.

Why elite Florida athlete Trey Sanders committed to Alabama so early in his high school career |

"I had gone up to Alabama for a visit two weeks ago," Sanders said. "I fell in love with the place.  I talked with my parents about it and my family and I was ready to commit on the way back to A-Day." The 6-foot-1, 202-pound Sanders could play running back for Alabama, though his father Delmon Sanders told that Alabama thinks of him as an athlete. He could get bigger and project at safety down the line. Or maybe even linebacker.

"You really don't know how tall he's going to get or what size he's going to be," Delmon Sanders said. "He's still a growing kid."

While it is still far too soon to celebrate his commitment, he certainly says all the right things. Sounds like he is going to end up close to the Derrick Henry and Bo Scarbrough category in terms of size.

The real Running Back U: Alabama, Cal, Miami, Texas or USC? -

Yes, the Tide have seen some mixed NFL results at running back. But the sheer volume is impressive: Mark Ingram, Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon, Trent Richardson and Glen Coffee, just under Nick Saban alone. Throw fullback Le'Ron McClain into the mix, and he joins Lacy and Ingram as Pro Bowlers for Alabama. If this list counted just the past five years, Alabama would be Running Back U.

Alabama is going to look good at pretty much every position group save QB.

List of award winners from Alabama basketball's banquet

Here's a list of the awards:

Outstanding freshman: Donta Hall

Most Improved: Arthur Edwards

Outstanding Defensive Player: Riley Norris

Outstanding Offensive Player: Retin Obasohan

Coach Avery Award: Lawson Schaffer

Kudos to all the winners. By the way, this article comes from good friend Marq Burnett. He recently moved up to the big time, poached away from the Anniston Star to cover Alabama for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Congratulations to him.

That's about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.