Happy Monday, everyone. Big news of the weekend was the Alabama baseball team, which hadn’t won a conference game in more than a month, coming out of nowhere to sweep #9 Auburn. Meanwhile, the ladies salvaged only the final game of their three-game set on the Plains and finished the season with the #5 seed. They open the SEC Tournament on Wednesday against Arkansas. Senior pitcher Sidney Littlejohn is excited for her final postseason:
Good luck to them.
We’ll open the football with some great stuff from USA Today writer Nancy Armour:
If anything has become clear in the two years since Harbaugh returned to Michigan, it’s that he owns college football. Anyone foolish enough to try and test that is bound to lose.
Sorry, need a quick moment here.
Thanks, Nancy. That was a good one.
Alabama’s offensive tweaks under new coordinator Brian Daboll will be interesting to see. The Tide is incredibly deep at running back — former five-star recruit B.J. Emmons is sixth on the depth chart — and the running game figures to be the focal point of the offense. Hurts need to show progression as a passer; he stumbled down the stretch last season. Ridley is a proven threat on the outside, but a consistent complementary receiver must emerge.
Hard to watch the spring scrimmage and not be excited for this receiving corps. Robert Foster, Jerry Jeudy, and T.J. Simmons all looked like great candidates to provide those other options.
The 6-foot-5, 203-pounder is a hot commodity on the recruiting trail for a number of programs including Texas A&M, LSU, and Florida State to name a few.
Alabama has been selective thus far with its quarterback offers for next year's class only putting a handful of feelers out to JT Daniels, Spencer Rattler, Bo Nix, Taulia Tagovailoa and Jalon Jones.
It will be interesting to see where the quarterback recruiting goes under Daboll. Interestingly, Gunnell and the first two names listed are all considered “pro style” while the last three are “dual-threat.”
The nine football players were cornerback Tony Brown, linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton, center Bradley Bozeman and walk-ons Hunter Bryant, Lawrence Erekosima, Derrick Garnett, Bo Grant, Preston Jones and Thomas Woods.
Congratulations to all of these men. Good to see Tony Brown’s name on the list. He has had some well chronicled off-field issues, but has clearly done what was needed in the classroom to graduate in four years.
As talented as the Crimson Tide is on its two-deep "rep chart", it still has a handful of players whose availability during the upcoming season will prove critical to its ability to sustain as college football's top defense. Those defenders include:
Anthony Averett: Considered a question mark heading into last season, the fifth-year senior will be viewed as a strength of the backend of the UA defense after posting a team-high eight pass breakups in 2016. Will be counted on to provide a lockdown presence at right cornerback in his final season in Tuscaloosa.
Considering the way the twos were shredded at A-Day, some member of the secondary has to be the most indispensable. Fitzpatrick is the quarterback and top talent of the group, but Averett’s ability in man coverage is critical as well.
Eight of Alabama’s 10 draft picks were chosen within 30 spots from where they were ranked as high school recruits in the 247Sports Composite rankings, and an even more impressive five of them were much closer, only missing their composite scores by single-digit picks. One that was spot on was tight end O.J. Howard. Howard was the 19th overall prospect in 2013, was selected with the No. 19 pick in this year’s draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
So, do high school players see a rise in recruiting rankings after they receive an offer from Saban or another top-tier program? It’s certainly possible. But looking at the numbers a few years after their recruitments, and the “Bama bump” may all just be a myth, after all.
Recruiting services do consider the programs who have offered a player as a factor, which shouldn’t be a surprise. Obviously most players who receive an offer from Alabama hold offers from the other elite programs as well.
Speaking of Alabama draftees:
That team could win some games, folks.
"Especially coming out of the program he did, he's a winner," Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said. "He's a great kid, and he can do everything we need a tight end to do."
The "great kid" part was important to Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht.
"The thing that stands out is you can't get anybody to say a negative thing about him," Licht said. "When we talk character, we want guys to be great off the field, positive members of the community. But most of the time we're talking about football character, and that's what he embodies. It's team first. Very passionate about the game. He loves it, and that's very important to us."
We saw this in Tuscaloosa as O.J. seemingly never complained despite a lack of targets, instead focusing on becoming an excellent blocker and contributing in every way possible. He should enjoy a long career in the NFL.
Last but not least, let’s talk a little high school softball, shall we?
Autauga Academy center fielder Karsyn Kemsel said she usually swings at inside pitches.
Kemsel bumped her routine to hit the shot of her life and break through Macon-East’s softball dynasty.
Kemsel’s walk-off homer in the seventh lifted the Generals to a 10-9 win over the Knights to win the AISA Class AA championship at Lagoon Park on Saturday.
Karsyn Kemsel is a well-rounded, mature, and absolutely adorable high school softball player who dreams of one day playing at Alabama and gave a very poised interview there.
She also happens to be my first cousin.
On Saturday, the sophomore launched a walk-off home run to knock off the five-time defending state champions and bring home a title for Autauga Academy, which sounds familiar in these parts as the school that produced Howard. Hopefully we will one day get to see her hitting them out at Rhoads Stadium. Highlights below.
Karsyn has an outstanding work ethic, which allowed her to overcome a major ACL injury to get back on the field and perform at a high level before capping off the season with this moment that she will never forget. We are all very proud of her.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.