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Jumbo Package: Friday, 20 May 2016

Crimson Tide news and notes...

Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. The baseball team dropped the opener of a three-game set vs. #10 South Carolina last night by a score of 6-4, while the softball team opens NCAA tournament play by hosting Samford today at 4pm CT (SEC Network).

Your links for the day:

Can Clemson, LSU, FSU dethrone Alabama football in 2016?

If there is any team that can keep up with the talent level of Alabama this year, it’s Florida State. In many ways, the Seminoles are in a similar position to the Tide: loaded with returning stars but needing to answer some questions at quarterback. However, Jimbo Fisher’s squad has the obvious advantage of a Heisman candidate returning at running back.

Sounds like Sports Illustrated is all in on the 'Noles this year, which of course means that #FSUTwitter is going to be insufferable again. They have certainly recruited well and return top end talent on both sides of the ball. Everyone assumes that the Tide will reload and be right in the thick of the national title chase, but which team do you believe is most likely to dethrone them? Oklahoma, Clemson, LSU, and Florida State are mentioned here, but you may have your own sleepers. Vote below and explain in the comments.

ESPN/ABC Set for Best College Football Opening Weekend Schedule Ever - ESPN MediaZone

  • No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide Headlines Slate with All Top 6 Teams; 12 of the Top 20 Teams
  • Games from Lambeau Field and Dublin, Ireland
  • No. 9 Notre Dame at Texas on Sunday Night in Prime Time
  • No. 14 Ole Miss vs. No. 4 Florida State on Labor Day Night

What an opening weekend. Only 106 days, folks.

Alabama Crimson Tide top Football Power Index rankings for 2016 top defense

As the only team to finish in the top 10 in defensive efficiency in each of the past four seasons, Alabama has built a defensive dynasty that's unlikely to end in 2016. Although the Tide are tasked with replacing a number of key leaders (Reggie Ragland, A'Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed) and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, they have the talent and experience to fill those holes. First-team All-SEC defenders Jonathan Allen (team leader in sacks) and Eddie Jackson (team leader in interceptions) return for their senior seasons to go along with top prospects Tim Williams, Da'Shawn Hand and a boatload of blue-chip recruits. Don't be surprised if new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt produces an even more dominant defense in 2016 than the one that won the national championship last season.

Indeed, this could legitimately be the best defense of the Saban era. The secondary has as much talent across the board as it ever has, and all of the prime players come into the season with significant experience. Up front, Saban's vision of more "fast-twitch" players has now fully come to fruition with Da'Shawn Hand and Jonathan Allen on the defensive line with Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams manning the OLB slots. It will be interesting to see if the run defense is slightly softer with the 300+ pounders Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson in the NFL along with Reggie Ragland. Even still, it's hard to believe that teams will find much success running at them, and getting to the edges should prove to be very difficult.

Alabama Crimson Tide offers scholarship to eighth grade linebacker prospect Jesus Machado

The Crimson Tide aren't the only ones interested in Machado, a 6-foot, 195-pound defensive prospect from Hialeah (Florida) Champagnat Catholic School. In addition to his new Alabama offer, Machado also has verbal offers from Iowa State, Michigan State, NC State and West Virginia.

It's crazy to think that kids are getting offered in the 8th grade now, but this young man does look special. Check out his video below, dominating varsity football at that age. If he continues to develop, Machado is going to be a monster.

Reexamining the booms and busts of Alabama's landmark 2008 recruiting class |

The 2008 haul was the catalyst -- the building block for what came next. Those who stuck around four years won two national titles. And the few who redshirted were part of three championship teams. A reexamination through the lens of what really happened gives a different perspective on the class. A few of the more legendary moments came from mid-pack players, according to the ratings. Some of the can't-miss five stars, well, missed.

It's interesting to look back at the 2008 class to see just how many of the blue chips failed to pan out despite the success of the group as a whole. Still, what a class headlined by the transcendent Julio Jones.

Watch: Derrick Henry tells Alabama fans 'Roll Tide Forever'

The Tennessee Titans rookie running back posted a pair of 'Roll Tide Forever' videos Tuesday night on his Instagram account, perhaps a final goodbye to the program that helped him transition from five-star phenom to 2015 Heisman Trophy winner and national champion.

Feed your inner Gump with these clips from your Heisman winner. Roll Tide, Derrick.

An Alabama fan got Nick Saban to autograph a Saban Jesus candle | FOX Sports

During his round, Saban was presented with what is likely one of the strangest items he's ever been asked to autograph by an Alabama fan - a modified Sacred Heart of Jesus candle bearing Saban's likeness.

Yes, it says a Saban Jesus candle. You must click and check out the photo. It is a sight to behold.

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

Roll Tide.