Happy Friday, everyone. There isn’t a whole lot going on, but we have a few relevant links for you:
I respect Payne to the fullest, and I feel like he was very underappreciated this season."
Payne is one of the freakiest athletes on a team full of freakish athletes.
The Alabama strength and conditioning staff won't let him go above 500 pounds on the bench press, 600 pounds on the squat or 365 pounds on power clean. The former five-star recruit is also fast. At 320 pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.93 seconds last spring.
In case you were wondering, 307-pound Ndamukong Suh, who finished fourth in the 2009 Heisman vote, ran a 4.98 at the Combine in 2010 and was drafted #2 overall. Payne may have flown under the radar to this point, but look for him to get plenty of attention next season.
"I get a lot of people who tell me that Jalen Hurts is only a freshman, and Tua is going to have to sit for another three years, and in my heart -- and I know that Tua and his family feel the same way -- that Coach Saban will play the best guy and he'll let them compete for the job," Passas said. "Gosh, I've coached hundreds of quarterbacks, and Tua is a special kind of guy where when he's up against competition, his level of play just climbs and just gets better. It's like the sky is the limit for his potential."
Tagovailoa isn't unfamiliar with position battles. As a sophomore in high school, he beat out a rising senior who was coming off an all-state season, according to his coaches.
"His balls never touched the turf in practice, and every throw counted," Passas said.
Every single person who has ever spent time with Tagovailoa simply gushes over him. In Hawaii they call him “the next Mariota” and he’s compared to Tebow because of his faith, but his build and skill-set remind me of Russell Wilson. He says that he was told by the coaching staff that he will get a legitimate opportunity to compete for the job as a freshman. If he is as good as advertised, keeping him off the field will be difficult.
"I was star struck, kind of," Averett said with a smile. "I was just looking at him and I saw the rings on his desk and stuff like that. I was felt blessed about it."
His mother remembers the reaction.
"For him, it was almost like (Saban) was a movie star or celebrity," Davis said.
Rising sophomore Miller Forristall recalled a similar meeting in Saban's office. He was "a little terrified" when the coach entered the room.
There was one goal Forristall brought for the conversational portion of the meeting.
"That I was intelligent," Forristall said. "I tried to talk normal, I guess and tried not to shake or stumble too much.
How did Saban gain this kind of reputation with players? By following through on the promise to help them maximize their potential:
Falcons WR Julio Jones giving credit to @AlabamaFTBL for teaching him to handle success and Saban for making him work for everything— Michele Steele (@ESPNMichele) January 26, 2017
When a future HOF player, about to play in his first Super Bowl in his sixth NFL season, cites his college coach as a primary driver of his success, you know something special is going on.
A former Alabama quarterback has landed in the Pac-12. And he’ll reportedly play a different position.
Cooper Bateman, who served as Alabama’s No. 2 quarterback throughout the 2016 season, has enrolled as a student at the University of Utah. Bateman, a native of the Salt Lake City area, is “expected to join” the Utes as a walk-on receiver for spring practice, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Cooper knows that he isn’t making the NFL (or CFL) at QB, and there probably weren’t any P5 schools willing to spend a scholarship on him at WR. Utah is home for him and offers a chance to show what he can do as a receiver. Similarly sized to Ole Miss TE Evan Engram at 6’3” and 224 pounds, he fits the mold of the hybrid TE/WR that is all the rage in the NFL these days.
"It is what it is," Anderson said of the second-round projections. "You can judge a guy by the short and cleat Olympics, the combine and that stuff, or you can turn the film on and go look at a player. When the lights come on, I'm going to play. I don't care who the man in front of me is. I don't care where he got drafted. I don't care how many stars he had. I don't care what his stats are like. He's going to have to beat me."
Been saying it all season, but some team is going to get a holy terror in Anderson. You can’t teach toughness and attitude, and Ryan has it in spades.
“I think (specialists) sort of get taken for granted a lot until you don’t have one and he snaps the ball over the punter’s head, then you’re saying, ‘Where’s Cole at?’” Saban said. “So, he’s done a fantastic job for us. The first game he ever came he was the long snapper, never skipped a beat and was very consistent.
“I don’t remember a poor snap in four years that he’s been our snapper. … The guy’s a fantastic player, and he’s gonna have a long career because he is really, really good at what he does.”
Congrats to Cole on getting the opportunity. While long snappers are rarely drafted, he certainly has a shot.
Saban headed to Leesburg, Ga., on Thursday to see five-star defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon, a top target across the defensive line. He's expected to go in-home with Solomon and his family on Thursday night.
Solomon is still calling Alabama the leader. Hopefully he and LaBryan Ray decide to team up to help destroy SEC offenses for the next three seasons. Early enrollee juco transfer Isaiah Buggs certainly showed that he can play:
Great stuff. Reports from bowl practice suggest that he is really good at football, too.
That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.