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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

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Awards, All-SEC team, and recruiting

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

SEC Football by the Numbers: Awards season

7 Straight seasons the finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy have featured Alabama players, including the Crimson Tide's Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2017. Reuben Foster in 2016, Reggie Ragland in 2015, Landon Collins in 2014, C.J. Mosley in 2013, Dee Milliner in 2012 and Mark Barron in 2011 preceded Fitzpatrick as Nagurski finalists. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy has been presented annually to the Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. North Carolina State DE Bradley Chubb was named the winner of the 2017 award on Monday night. Allen won last year's award when he became the SEC's third winner. The league's other Nagurski recipients have been Georgia CB Champ Bailey in 1998 and LSU DT Glenn Dorsey in 2007.

Start off Gump Day the right way. Alabama is now at 7 seasons in a row with a defensive player being a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy. For each of the last 7 seasons, we have been blessed with one of the top 3 defenders in the nation.

This year, Minkah Fitzpatrick is the representative. He’s also a finalist for the Thorpe award, a lesser trophy that just goes to the best defensive back in the nation.

Alabama football: Tide place conference-high 11 players on AP All-SEC teams

Alabama placed a league-leading 11 players on the Associated Press All-SEC teams on Monday. For first team, wide receiver Calvin Ridley, tackle Jonah Williams, guard Ross Pierschbacher, center Bradley Bozeman, defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne, linebacker Rashaan Evans, and safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison all made the list. Alabama’s eight first-team selections were the most in the SEC.

Defensive lineman Raekwon Davis, cornerback Levi Wallace and Punter JK Scott were second-team selections. There were no unanimous choices to the All-SEC teams, but Fitzpatrick was one vote away from being one.

In my head, that one person that didn’t vote for Fitzpatrick was a Kentucky guy who just wanted to stand out from the crowd.

No real surprises here, but Raekwon Davis’s breakout this season has been a welcome addition. Plus, watching a man that massive get so excited any time he makes a tackle is just plain entertaining.

Rice to hire former Alabama GA as head football coach, reports say

Rice has hired Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren as its head football coach, according to multiple reports.

The 40-year-old Bloomgren got his coaching start as a graduate assistant at Alabama, working under both Mike DuBose and Dennis Franchione from 1999-2002. He has also coached at Catawba, Delta State and with the NFL's New York Jets.

Roll Tide, Mike. Make us proud.

Alabama football: Will Crimson Tide be healthy for matchup with Clemson?

The answer to this one is yes and no. From an injury standpoint, Alabama should be healthy at linebacker by game time. Alabama coach Nick Saban said the Crimson Tide’s linebackers who have been banged up — Mack Wilson, Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis — will be back for the game.

That’s huge. Wilson, Miller and Lewis all played in the Iron Bowl, but they weren’t 100 percent. They should be there, or really close to it by Jan. 1.

Star defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (hamstring) and left guard Ross Pierschbacher (ankle) should also have time to heal, as well as any other players who were dealing with nagging injuries.

The bad news is that Alabama will be without starting safety Hootie Jones, whom Saban said suffered a knee injury against Auburn.

Jones was a staple at one of the safety spots in Alabama’s nickel and dime packages. He’ll likely be replaced by junior Deionte Thompson. Thompson is a physical safety, who will benefit from this experience heading into next season.

A month for Mack, Christian, Terrell, Ross, and Minkah to all get healed up? Yes please, and thank you Auburn for giving us that extra week to heal. Remember our pass rush against Florida State before we lost Miller and Lewis? Yeah, I’d LOVE to see that again just in time for the playoffs.

And this will be the test for Deionte Thompson, as he’ll be the front runner to take over at safety next season. He’s got an aggressive play style to go with good speed and a rangy frame. I have high hopes.

Storylines: Alabama football recruiting early signing period

A couple of top uncommitted targets for Alabama football that plan on making decisions during the Early Signing Period, if not in the days leading up to Early Signing Day, include four-star cornerback Saivion Smith, the No. 1 junior college cornerback in the country. Smith left the LSU program last spring and has immediate impact ability with past experience in the SEC. Another big target of Nick Saban’s is four-star offensive tackle Penei Sewell, who plans to sign during the Early Signing Period, but enroll next summer. Alabama football already inked a stellar offensive line class in 2017, following it up with a player of Sewell’s caliber would be huge for the Tide’s recruiting efforts.

It will definitely be interesting to see how this new early signing period affects things. In any case, Saivion Smith has to be absolute top priority. The entire top 6 starters in the Alabama secondary (assuming Minkah and Ronnie both go pro) will all be leaving after this season, and it will be a total overhaul. Veteran talent would be a more than welcome addition.

Current top Alabama commit, defensive lineman Stephon Wynn, is also expected to sign this month and enroll in January. The more we can lock up, the better.