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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

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Wake up! It’s the first National Signing Day!

Alabama v Mississippi State Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images

Alabama safety injured in practice, but early reports optimistic

Alabama redshirt sophomore safety Deionte Thompson sustained a knee injury toward the end of the Crimson Tide's Tuesday practice, BamaOnLine has learned. But early indications are optimistic the injury is simply a bad bruise and another MRI should determine the extent of the setback.

AL.com was first to report the injury news.

Thompson is slated to step into Alabama's starting role at safety in its nickel and dime packages with senior Hootie Jones (knee) out for the season. A serious injury to the former 4-star recruit would force the Tide to its third option, which would likely be true freshman Xavier McKinney.

We saw early in the day yesterday that Dylan Moses injured his foot and most believe he won’t be able to play in the playoffs at all. We posted the news here yesterday and the was much swinging of the cactus.

Well not long after we learned that safety Deionte Thompson, who is filling in for injured safety Hootie Jones, injured his knee and is having an MRI done. Now, the word is that it’s just a bruise. Let’s hope so.

If not, then we’ll probably be seeing a good bit of freshman Xavier McKinney. The safety was my favorite recruit in the 2017 recruiting class and has played sparingly in mop-up duty all season. He’s looked decent, but very obviously a freshman.

Fortunately, Clemson no longer has DeShaun Watson.

Alabama Football: Tide turns practice attention to Clemson

The Crimson Tide worked inside again on Tuesday. Other than the Dylan Moses news, there is little to report on players recovering from other injuries. Ross Piersbacher, Terrell Lewis, Christian Miller and Mack Wilson are either at 100 percent or will be soon.

Add previously dinged up Damien Harris to the group back to full speed. The same cannot be said about Minkah Fitzpatrick. In the four practices since the Auburn game, Minkah has not been a full participant. The Consensus All-American, Thorpe and Bednarik Award winner is being cautiously prepared to play against Clemson. He is expected to be at full speed by the Clemson game-week.

The stationary bike group was the same on Tuesday, LaBryan Ray, Miller Forristall, Brandon Kennedy and Nigel Knott. Ray is expected to return to practice after the upcoming Christmas break.

Here’s the rest of the injury report. Ross P., Terrell Lewis, Christian Miller, Mack Wilson, and Damien Harris are all supposedly back to full speed. Minkah Fitzpatrick has been battling a hamstring for quite a while now, and we all know how long those can linger. Not a thing you can do about them other than to just sit out though. Having him back will be absolutely integral to a playoff run.

Alabama football: Tide historically successful against No. 1 teams under Nick Saban

During Alabama coach Nick Saban’s tenure, the Tide has faced their fair share of No. 1 teams. Two seasons ago, Alabama defeated No. 1 Clemson in the national championship. Before that, the Tide took down No. 1 Mississippi State at home in 2015. Saban has five wins over the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 under his watch at Alabama. In the Sugar Bowl, the Crimson Tide will face another No. 1 in Clemson. Saban’s only loss against a No. 1 team at Alabama came against LSU in 2011 in the “Game of the Century.”

I kinda like this whole “not-being-number-one” thing. Playing the underdog seems much more fun. As long as we end up on top after the dust settles, this number 4 ranking suits me just fine.

And if Nick Saban’s love for motivational material is any indication, I’d guess it suits him too.

Alabama entering playoffs with underdog-like mentality

"I think for sure because people were counting us out that didn't want us in (the playoffs)," Tide star defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said. "Some people just don't like us. It's true. But I think it definitely helped as motivation and fuel, especially if we do what we're supposed to do and get to where we want to be. I think it will help us a lot."

People inside the Alabama building will tell you that this team is even more focused and motivated than normal.

And leaders like Fitzpatrick have been determined to keep teammates locked in and to help the Tide avoid issues that the team feels proved costly during last year's playoff run.

"As soon as we found out (about getting into the playoffs), everybody was excited and we all talked to each other, said we have to get right, get everybody's minds right," Fitzpatrick said. "... So we just had to make sure everybody was doing the right things and that nobody was (deviating). That was really it. The leadership talked to one another and told each other to make sure everybody was doing what they were supposed to be doing."

You’ve probably heard at least 72 time by now that Minkah scored the same marks on a personality test as Nick Saban. Well, it seems like he’s similarly motivated by being relegated to an underdog.

I like this.

Alabama early signing day guide, when top targets will decide

-- DE Brenton Cox (5-star) will decide between Alabama and Georgia between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. CT Wednesday live on ESPNU. Cox is a five-star recruit who visited Georgia last weekend.

-- QB Emory Jones (4-star) will announce Wednesday. He's committed to Ohio State but Alabama has been a contender. Jones will sign at 10:30 a.m. CT in Atlanta.

-- OT Penei Sewell (4-star) was expected to sign Wednesday but 247Sports is reporting that decision might be delayed. The Saint George, Utah product is also heavily considering Oregon and new head coach Mario Cristobal -- the former Alabama assistant.

-- DE Eyabi Anoma (5-star) will announce his decision on Friday, the final day of the early signing period. Michigan and Maryland are also in play for the No. 7 overall recruit, according to 247Sports.

-- Jalen Cunningham (3-star) from Odenville is considered a favorite for Ole Miss with Alabama and Tennessee in the mix, 247Sports reported. He'll make his pledge at 11 a.m. CT.

-- TE Dominick Wood-Anderson (3-star) will decide between Alabama, Tennessee, Texas A&M and others on Dec. 20. Wood-Anderson is the nation's top tight end prospect coming out of Arizona Western College, the same school ex-Tide DL Jesse Williams attended.

Here’s a quick list of some of the top targets to watch in the next few days. That said, look for CB’s article here on Roll Bama Roll for your main source of news around Signing Day. We’ll be updating the article as recruits sign, and you’ll have access to an open thread to talk about it all.

In any case, DE Eyabi Anoma is considered by many in the “know” to be as close to a lock to Bama as you can get.

You think Saban hasn’t been frustrated by the lack of pass rush from the linebackers this year? Check out the current class.

Jordan Davis, Cameron Latu, and Jarez Parks all will be joining the ranks soon, and landing Anoma would be icing on the cake.