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Jumbo Package: Wednesday, July 19

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The season... so... close...

NCAA Football: SEC Media Days Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Will Mack Wilson see time on defense for Alabama this season?

The 6-foot-2, 236-pound Montgomery native played in all 15 games as a freshman last season, recording six tackles and a fumble recovery on special teams while also seeing some time as a reserve inside linebacker.

Wilson will compete with other young players such as freshman Dylan Moses during fall camp, attempting to prove worthy of seeing time on defense along with senior inside linebackers Rashaan Evans, a preseason first-team All-SEC selection, and Shaun Dion Hamilton, a preseason second-team All-SEC selection.

Working in Wilson's favor is his combination of toughness, physicality and athleticism.

Wilson posted the second-fastest 40-yard dash time among linebackers during Alabama's spring testing (4.59) while his 505-pound squat was tied with Evans for the best among Tide linebackers.

Mack Wilson definitely showed a lot of promise as a freshman, and will likely fall right into the line of stars as an Alabama middle linebacker. That said, I don’t see him being a major contributor this year. Rashaan Evans and Shaun Dion Hamilton are the unquestioned starters at middle linebacker, and Keith Holcombe seems to have a little more of the coaches’ trust with his seniority. 2018, though, I fully expect Mack to be the main man in the middle.

Feedback continues to be very good regarding Alabama's new offensive coordinator

A reporter at the Manning Passing Academy in late June wanted to know about Alabama's offense and whether Jalen Hurts expects any big changes under a new offensive coordinator.

The problem? The reporter was apparently under the impression that Steve Sarkisian was still the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator and asked Hurts, "Do you expect anything different under Sarkisian this year or pretty much all the same?"

Alabama's sophomore quarterback paused for a moment before politely correcting the reporter, "Well ... our offensive coordinator's from the Patriots, Coach Daboll."

The rest of the article has a couple of quotes from Hurts, Ridley, and Fitzpatrick saying that they like what Daboll is doing. Nothing too enlightening. I really just clipped this one for the comedic relief of it. The reporter still thought that Sarkisian would be OC this year (after his all of 1 game with Alabama before jumping to the Falcons). Imagine being in Hurts’ place getting to correct the reporter. I’d probably have been more snarky.

Alabama offensive line takes a break before getting back to work

There were friends, fellowship, and of course, an abundance of food on hand as the Alabama offensive line spent the weekend enjoying a bonding trip at Lake Wedowee. All were needed as the Crimson Tide looks to build chemistry across the unit while taking a break from its taxing summer workout regime.

“That's the big part of the offensive line," Alabama center Bradley Bozeman said during SEC Media Days last week. "Our whole room is filled with great guys that are great competitors. We're going to go up there and chill.”

Here’s to hoping this is the offensive line that finally puts it all together for the first time since the 2012 unit. Since then, there’s typically been a revolving door in at least one position along the line every season.

We know Jonah Williams, Ross Pierschbacher, and Bradley Bozeman have the left locked up. During A-Day, it looked like Lester Cotton will be the right guard and Matt Womack the right tackle. But would Cotton bump out to tackle if Deonte Brown or Brandon Kennedy impress at guard? Or would he just be replaced while Womack stays? And then Scott Lashley has continually impressed at left tackle after redshirting last year. Might he be a darkhorse candidate to win right tackle?

Lastly, don’t forget Jedrick Wills. The true freshman is built to play right tackle. He’s one of the most purely athletic linemen to come out high school, and he plays with an explosive mean streak.

We’ll see how it all plays out, but hopefully they can find a combination that works and stick with it.

Alabama's two new wide receivers both 'very fast, very explosive'

After getting by his defender, Ruggs dribbled forward and then took off from not far past the free-throw line, his head close to parallel with the rim as he finished with a powerful and impressive dunk.

The Crimson Tide's freshman wide receiver is a big-time athlete who has impressed during pickup basketball games and, like fellow summer enrollee wide receiver Devonta Smith, has more importantly earned respect from teammates during summer football workouts and 7-on-7 passing sessions since the two arrived at Alabama in May.

Teammates describe both the same way, and both are showing this summer that they may be worthy of early playing time with the Tide.

"Fast. Both of them are real fast," Alabama star defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said. "I cover both of them every day, and they pose a real challenge because they're quick, they're fast, explosive down the field, and they come out of their breaks like lightning. So covering them is getting me a whole lot better."

Both Smith and Ruggs will be behind the curve both mentally and physically, due to not enrolling early and both being a bit on the light side. Smith especially needs some weight, and I expect him to end up redshirting this year.

Ruggs is likely too unpolished to see any time at receiver, but he could be a factor from day 1 in the return game. Xavian Marks and Trevon Diggs don’t have a strong hold on the job, so I could see Ruggs, with his game-breaking speed, passing the two if he proves he can make good decisions too.

Only parity SEC sees is parity behind Alabama

There is parity in the league, yes, but only behind Saban and his Crimson Tide. No, teams do not prepare, develop or build the same way Alabama does. That's why the SEC is a one-team league, and the gap is so big right now that it almost seems foolish to contemplate picking someone besides Alabama to win the conference so long as Saban is coaching in Tuscaloosa.

"The consistency of that program over the years did not come overnight," said Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, who is 1-4 against Saban's Tide during his time with the Aggies. "I think people understand that. But you can't argue that that is the mark, and that's where everybody wants to be.

"You can win a lot of games in the West, and that one can take its toll on you. I think it took its toll on us the last couple of years, matter of fact."

Alabama takes its toll on everyone. In the past three seasons, the Tide have owned the league, winning 25 of 27 games against SEC opponents. The only SEC West opponent who has managed to beat Alabama since Auburn's magical kick-six win in 2013 is Ole Miss (twice); the SEC East, meanwhile, is 0-9 against the Crimson Tide.

It really is a different league than it was a few years ago. LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, and even Auburn have been elite teams only a few years ago. Now all of them seem to have taken steps back. Within the conference, only Ole Miss has beaten Alabama since the ridiculous kick-six in 2013, and they look to be a spiraling dumpster fire in the midst of all the NCAA allegations.

It’s good to be on top. I hope it stays that way.