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Jumbo Package: T-3 Gump Days

We are so close to football I can taste it....

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports had a nice dump of articles last night to check out, and get the brunt of links here today (with one obligatory gump quote from 247).

NFL deadline cuts claim players with Alabama football roots |

In addition to Pagan, a defensive end who had played for Alabama and was released by the Houston Texans, the waived players included safety Jamal Golden (Wetumpka) of the New Orleans Saints, wide receiver K.J. Maye (Murphy) of the New York Giants, wide receiver Richard Mullaney (Alabama) of the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Trovon Reed (Auburn) of the Seattle Seahawks and defensive tackle Devaunte Sigler (B.C. Rain, Jacksonville State) of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The first wave of cuts in the NFL just passed, but the bigger round (22 per team) will be next week. Many players will find themselves on the outside looking in... But just as many from Alabama won't be. The league is becoming infused with Bama players on almost every team, and Julio Jones is in contention for not only the best receiver in the league, but possibly the best player overall. Soon it will look like when Miami took over the NFL in the early 2000s.

Alabama pass rusher has very specific sack goal |

And Allen's got a bigger number in mind for his quarterback harassment goal. Try 28.

"Gotta beat Derrick Thomas," Allen said, referencing the school record of 27 set back in 1988.

With USC in Saturday's opener, Alabama will see first-time starter Max Browne. The former national high school player of the year is protected by a veteran offensive line, but one that allowed 38 sacks last season to rank 109th nationally. It was dealt a blow when USC announced sophomore Chuma Edoga would replace starting left tackle Chad Wheeler who is dealing with a foot injury.

This pass rush is going to be fun to watch. With more experience, they just might be even better than they ended last season. That is a terrifying thought. You know Dak Prescott is happy he now only has to face NFL pass rushers.

Alabama LB Reuben Foster says he's more of a Ferrari than a Tahoe these days |

The topic of his trimmed down physique was again a hot topic. Dropping 15 pounds from 240 to 225 is significant for a player teammates voted as the hardest hitter.

It's going to feel a little different. Foster knows that. "Yeah, like testing a new automobile," he said with a grin. "I'm ready to drive a Ferrari."

Last year, Foster figured he was more of a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV.

From a Tahoe to a Ferrari.... Oh man. Reuben Foster is set to have a special year.

A couple of years ago, I would have been worried about a middle linebacker dropping to 225 pounds. But with so many teams running spread offenses with horizontal concepts as a staple, rather than a constraint, the lighter (and faster) Foster should be even more effective than he was last year.

How Alabama supplanted USC as the destination school for top recruits |

"I think that's what is scary for opponents," said Barton Simmons, the director of football scouting for 247Sports, a major recruiting website.

"There are still a generation of players who have watched Alabama's dominance who have yet to be prospects. A lot of guys we talk to grew up watching Reggie Bush or grew up watching Tim Tebow....But we have still yet to see that generation of players from outside of the southeast region that became Alabama fans just based on their success. We see that with schools like USC in the past or schools like Florida. But with Alabama, that generation is still coming of age."

This is an understated bonus that should help sustain the dynasty in years to come. While it won't last forever, many of the kids today will have spent their entire lives viewing Alabama as the best. That will factor into their decisions 8 years from now when 5-star players are going through the recruiting process.

More perspective on Alabama's amazing streak of No. 1 rankings |

Bear Bryant coached the Tide to No. 1 in the AP poll in eight seasons: 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979 and 1980. Gene Stallings did it once in the final poll of the 1992 season after thumping Miami in the Sugar Bowl to win the national title.

That's it. That means, in the 71 years of the poll era before Saban arrived, Alabama reached No. 1 in nine different seasons. Saban, in an age of parity and scholarship limitations, is 9 for 10 with the last nine in a row.

Process that.

Cue the Saban vs. Bear debate.