Happy Monday, everyone. We have officially reached camp-opening week, and plenty of preview material will be forthcoming. There are several good stories for you this morning, starting with some discussion around the 2016 defensive line:
King, 27, recorded 53 tackles including 19.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks last season. The addition of King will be a welcome presence along the defensive line as four-star defensive tackle Kendell Jones was unable to qualify and went the junior college route. King is rated the No. 4 strong-side defensive end and the No. 54 overall JUCO player in the 2016 cycle, according to the 247Sports Composite, an industry-generated average.
Physical maturity certainly shouldn't be an issue for King, who comes into college in the midst of his athletic prime, to a program that has had great luck with juco defensive linemen: Terrence Cody, Quinton Dial, Jesse Williams, D.J. Pettway, and Jarran Reed have all flourished under Saban.
If you haven't heard King's backstory, it's a good one:
King's focus coming out of Detroit Denby High in 2008 — his first experience at football was his senior year — was to earn some money to help his family after his mother lost her job at a local hospital and his father was suffering from heart problems.
That's when he went to work at Magna Closures.
Still, King remained active on the field, playing for a couple semi-pro football teams, including the Metro Detroit Wolverines.
Plenty to root for with this young man. If there is justice in the world, he will one day sign a NFL contract. He certainly looks the part:
With Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson no longer around, the path has been cleared for Frazier to contend for playing time behind Alabama's projected starters. Other than Daron Payne, there aren't many true nose tackle types on the roster, so the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Frazier should be in the mix from a depth standpoint. In hindsight, a redshirt year in 2014 might have been best for the Arkansas native, who has appeared in 12 games the last two seasons. Now at the midway point of his eligibility, it's time for Frazier -- a top 40 national prospect coming out of high school -- to make his case for a role that consists of more than mop-up time snaps.
It's hard to fault Josh Frazier for not garnering more playing time. Da'Shawn Hand was the #1 DE in his class and was a rotational piece only as a sophomore. Da'Ron Payne started as a freshman, but he is simply a freak of nature. Frazier should get plenty of opportunities to show his stuff this season. O.J. Smith is another nose-tackle type who is similarly waiting his turn.
Allen is arguably the top defensive lineman in the country. Payne and Hand are two freakishly strong and athletic former five-star recruits poised for breakout seasons, and Tomlinson is ranked by CBS Sports as the sixth-best NFL draft prospect among senior defensive linemen. Even after losing two second-round picks, there probably isn't another defensive line in the country with a better top-four than Alabama.
This is an interesting topic. The line won't be as deep with upperclassmen as last year's otherworldly unit, and the starting DEs certainly won't be as big, but they should be significantly better at rushing the passer than last year's group. That's a scary thought for offensive coordinators who saw the Tide lead the nation with 53 sacks. Indeed, Hand and Allen are likely seen as more versatile prospects than Robinson and Reed, and may well be drafted higher.
So, what say you? Can Alabama's 2016 line actually be better than the 2015 unit? Answer the poll and discuss.
More preseason questions:
With the exception of Marquis Maze in 2011, we've yet to see a No. 1 receiver used full-time on returns during the Nick Saban era at Alabama (Julio Jones was a secondary option on punt and kickoff returns). That would seem to bode well for candidates not named Ridley, although we have seen top defensive backs like Jones and Javier Arenas play large roles in the return game under Saban. If the coaching decides to go with someone other than Ridley, keep an eye on sophomore all-purpose player Xavian Marks, who worked extensively on both kickoff and punt returns in the spring. We also saw wide receivers ArDarius Stewart (kickoffs with Ridley) and Daylon Charlot (punts) back deep in the A-Day Game and running back Damien Harris was utilized on kickoff returns during the 2015 season.
It will be a shock if Calvin Ridley is the primary punt returner. Xavian Marks was built for the role and could be electric, but there is no shortage of options.
Korren Kirven also figures to be in the mix at right tackle after getting first-team snaps at left tackle with Robinson out for spring. When Jackson was hurt for last November's game with Charleston Southern, Kirven got his first career start. His first three Alabama seasons were spent on the defensive line before shifting sides after the 2014 season. The senior's obviously been in the program longer, but the potential of Williams will be hard to ignore.
Williams is the assumed starter at RT in his true freshman year, but don't count out seniors Kirven and Brandon Greene. Kirven had to cover for LT Cam Robinson at A-Day, so we don't know how he would have fit in the RT rotation.
McDonald earned his Alabama offer after a strong camp performance this summer. The on-field results at a high level in Class 7A were there, but height worked against him. McDonald grew up an Auburn fan and that seemed to be the offer he was looking for. He had other high-level offers, but none quite like Alabama and, as he told Daniel Boyette, how could he say no to Nick Saban?
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound James is a three-star recruit in the 247Sports composite rankings and the No. 12 tight end nationally. He had 10 receptions for 173 yards at La Vega High School as a junior. This is Alabama's first tight end commitment in this class and 21st overall.
Why's Saban signin' these three-stars, Pawwwwlllll?
On Friday, Alabama's "CrimsonTide_FB" Twitter account, which is run by the Alabama staff, posted the following picture, titled "Savage Season". What followed was double-digit responses from LSU fans calling the Tide out on the marketing campaign. Even Mathieu got involved, replying to the Alabama Twitter account with "glad I could inspire y'all."
Yep. Stole your coach, stole your magic season, now we stole your slogan.
Alabama has secured a commitment from one of the top quarterbacks in this class with Honolulu (Saint Louis), Hawaii standout Tua Tagovailoa. On Saturday, the Crimson Tide coaches offered his younger brother, class of 2019 quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa. The rising sophomore, a quarterback at Kapolei High School, was offered first by Hawaii this spring.
Wouldn't it be interesting if one Tagovailoa one day turned over the reins to another?
Beginning Monday, new NCAA social media rules will take effect allowing coaching staffs to like, retweet, favorite or share a recruit's post on social media. But they are still not allowed to directly comment on a prospect's post. In practice, a coach's retweet would not only unofficially confirm that the school is recruiting that individual, but would also allow fanbases to "show love" to a recruit after a head coach publicizes his social media recruiting updates.
PSA: If you follow any coaches you might want to consider un-following. And please, don't tweet at high schoolers. You don't want to be "that guy."
From time-to-time we need to take stock of this amazing Saban Era of Alabama football. As is well known, there have been other great Bama eras by Hall of Fame coaches – Wallace Wade (1923-30 with a record of 61-13-3), Frank Thomas (1931-46 and 115-24-7), Paul Bryant (1958-82 with 232-46-9), and Gene Stallings (1990-96 with 70-16-1). Both Wade and Thomas had Alabama winning percentages of 81.2; Bryant was 82.4; and Stallings 81.0.
Saban is now 105-18 at Alabama, a winning percentage of 85.4 per cent. In regular season Southeastern Conference games he is 60-12 for 83.3 per cent.
Nothing short of amazing.
The role of the strength coach is among the most underrated in college football, according to many coaches and players, particularly the valuable contribution such a coach can make as an ambassador for the rest of the coaching staff to the players. "What we do as a strength and conditioning coach, it starts with culture," said Ben Hilgart, the associate athletic director for strength and conditioning at Virginia Tech. "It’s bigger than any bench press we do."
Strength coaches are around the players the most, day in and day out, on the field for wind sprints and in the weight room for squat thrusts. They are there when intangibles like desire and attitude are more difficult to fake.
This is a great read. In case you ever wondered why Scott Cochran is so valuable to the program...
And Clemson won’t be going away anytime soon, even if junior quarterback Deshaun Watson wins the Heisman and takes off early for the NFL. Swinney’s recruiting has been consistently stellar. According to 247 Sports’ composite rankings, Clemson’s past five recruiting classes, starting with the 2016 group, rank 11th, ninth, 17th, 15th and 15th. The Tigers’ crop of 11 commitments for 2017 ranks 12th but includes two five-star players and six four-star ones.
Dabo is doing a great job, but he's going to have to recruit much better than that if he wants to be Saban-era Alabama.
Dre Kirkpatrick did wear No. 21 at Alabama, but now he's No. 27 with the Cincinnati Bengals, joining Eddie Lacy and Dee Milliner as former Tide standouts currently wearing No. 27 in the NFL. Neither Lacy nor Milliner wore No. 27 at Alabama. They're among the 55 former Alabama players on current NFL rosters as the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers become the final teams to report for training camp on Saturday.
Alabama has 55 total players on NFL rosters going into camp...
It will be the first training-camp practice for running back Derrick Henry, who'll be preparing for his rookie NFL season after joining Tennessee as a second-round pick out of Alabama in April's draft. Henry has shared some of his work since minicamp ended through his Instagram account.
...and one of them is Derrick Henry. Great video of him practicing at the link.
That should just about do it for today. Have a great week.