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Jumbo Package: DB shuffle; Tom Brady mentoring Hurts; defending Friday night college football

Jalen Hurts has drawn rave reviews this Spring. Has Tom Brady had some help in that improvement?

CFP National Championship Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Jalen Hurts has been hanging out on FaceTime with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski -

...It doesn’t hurt to have Tom Brady help out. Daboll has had Hurts talking to Brady via FaceTime, as well as Patriots tight end and all-around good time Rob Gronkowski.

We’re running some of the same stuff they’ve ran, so he’ll call Tom Brady and ask him what his top five plays are,” Hurts said. “It’s cool because we’re running the same plays he’s ran.”

Jalen Hurts is Facetiming Tom Brady (and Gronk) through the Daboll hookup. The more advice and pointers he can get, the better for a young quarterback. The conventional wisdom on this one concerns the connections that Daboll provides and the advantage it gives Alabama. But, the more revealing thing to me is highlighted in bold: Alabama is definitely borrowing passing concepts from New England. Most speculated that would happen, and every opposing defensive coordinator would do well to look at Pats’ game tape, but it’s nice to get verification of some of the offensive schemes Alabama will employ.

Bret Bielema: 'It really opened my eyes to some of those coaches'

Bielema has also become a fan of hiring NFL coaches, having brought three on board since last December. For those anxious about Daboll, it’s hard to fault the reasoning college coaches have when they want to obtain the technical expertise of pro coaching for promotion to coordinator roles.

“They don’t have to recruit anymore. It’s about how they can coach great players. A year ago, I hired Kurt Anderson from the Bills and was blown away by his technical skills, the way he saw the game and the way he approached it.

“It really opened my eyes to some of the guys in those assistant positions that are making good money, not great money, and they’re looking for a chance to maybe get their own room.”

Ranking college football QB tiers: From Heisman contenders to question marks -

The Deshaun Watson Tier: Heisman contenders, All-American favorites

Baker Mayfield, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Sam Darnold

These were generally no-brainers. Hurts provided some pause at season’s end, but he was electric overall as a true freshman. His ceiling remains high and he’ll be on a loaded team once again. I worry some that Mayfield won’t have the year he’s expected to because Oklahoma replaces so many key offensive skill players, but the dude has been dynamite since he was a freshman. This group is small for a reason.

Speaking of Hurts, with his late season struggles in the passing game we tend to forget that that for the better part of 2016, the freshman’s name was improbably in the Heisman Trophy discussion. Don’t expect that hype to diminish in 2017, particularly if he becomes more consistent. Another season of his dynamic ground skills, coupled with improved passing numbers in tougher contests, will see Hurts’ stock soar dramatically. (Gun to my head, though, I tend to think Sam Darnold or Deondre Francois are probably in the best position to sneak up and grab a surprise win or individual honors.)

Alabama teammates, coaches see Jalen Hurts growing as passer |

Saban recently shared some of the coaching staff's goals for Hurts -- getting better with decision-making, getting the ball out quicker, not drifting in the pocket and improving with reading defenses and consistently having his eyes in the right place.

Hurts is already doing a "much better job" in those areas, Saban said.

Improvement was noticeable as early as Alabama's first spring practice.

After practice, offensive analyst Alex Mortensen told Hurts, "The game looks slower to you."

"Yeah," Hurts responded.

"He saw me make a check and just do things we haven't covered yet, that we haven't got to," Hurts said. "It's just instinctive stuff I did and he noticed that. He said 'It's slowed down,' and I was like 'I guess it did.'"

Improvement is all-but certain for Jalen too. Last season he operated with a handful of plays and a rudimentary grasp of college defenses, and it showed as he was flummoxed by elite teams down the stretch — he simply was too raw a product. So far this Spring, to quote Ronnie Harrison, “Dang, Jalen is coming along.” When did he start working on improvement? January 10th, the day after the loss to Clemson. That’s leadership.

Alabama practice report: RB healthy, Nick Saban works with CB with VIPs watching |

Trevon Diggs was getting some extra work at cornerback when the first group was out there. Nick Saban stepped in to give the sophomore some one-on-one instruction on how to stand at the line of scrimmage before the snap. Diggs played mostly receiver last year but was with the defensive backs all spring.

-- It looked like Minkah Fitzpatrick was back at safety during that drill, but not much can be read into the shifts and movements in spring practice.

Various tidbits from yesterday’s inside practice, including more shuffling in the secondary. The media viewing session was a little closer to the vest than at recent practices. But, it is good to see Trevon Diggs getting work at DB. He has too much athleticism to keep on the bench, and last season did not really indicate that he can be a consistent WR at this level. Given the influx of wideout talent in NSD2017, the roster situation is only going to become more complicated for him as well.

In defense of Friday scheduling.

College football is good, but Friday college football is bad -

Tuesday MACtion is fine, as are Fun Belt Wednesdays, and Thursdays have been around so long and usually include enough substance to be worthwhile.

But Fridays mean weak schedules, games dragging until 2 a.m. ET just hours before an entire Saturday kicks off, high school games getting stampeded over, and West Coast games that began right after fans clocked out at the surfboard mill, meaning little time to actually fill the stadium.

What are the most treasured moments in the history of Friday college football? Oklahoma State-Iowa State, Mack Brown leaving early. That's it.

WADR to Jason Kirk, not everyone has kids in high school, coaches high school, is active with / close to their alma mater, or even wants to watch (mostly bad) high school football for that matter. If the Friday night college slate is so terrible, as he maintains, there wouldn’t be a market for it. But that market both exists and thrives: enough of us have proven that we will watch even the most woeful Friday night Sunbelt pillow fight. The SEC and Big Ten don’t want to schedule Friday games? Don’t schedule them — good for the conferences with enough visibility and financial leverage to do that. But for the AAC or Mountain those games are both tremendous financial boons and a wonderful source of exposure for players who are otherwise swallowed by major conferences and/or the Saturday glut. Finally, Friday scheduling isn’t just about adults. Friday night games are good for kids and growing the sport for the next generation. if you’re in 8th grade and in love with the sport, you’re far more able to stay up ‘til 1:00 a.m. on a Friday night to catch a west coast tussle than you are able to dial in for a Tuesday MACtion double header.