Happy Friday, everyone. We are in the throes of list-making season, and a couple of Alabama defenders showed up at SI:
On a Crimson Tide defense that lost many a leader to the NFL, Fitzpatrick will be a key veteran presence, and it doesn’t hurt that he can play any position in the secondary. Last year, he logged 66 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a team-leading six interceptions. Three of those picks came in a single game, against Arkansas, when he logged 114 total yards in interception returns including a 100-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter. Fitzpatrick added two passes defensed in the win.
Last month, Brown's wheels were on display at the NCAA track and field championships, where he ran a sizzling 10.12 100-meter time. He didn’t make the finals, but that kind of speed especially for a guy moonlighting at track is special. Brown also was part of the Crimson Tide’s 4x100 relay team that finished 14th. The 6-foot, 198-pound Texan isn’t just a fast guy. He’s also really, really strong. He bench presses 400 pounds.
It will be an upset if Minkah Fitzpatrick fails to win individual hardware this season considering the hype, and Tony Brown is not a man to be trifled with. Hopefully he can focus on the right things in his senior season. In general, we need to savor this secondary as some growing pains are likely in 2018.
Ray is as humble as they come considering how many headlines and accolades he’s accumulated. The 247Sports composite tabbed Ray as the top player in the state of Alabama for the 2017 cycle. Ray is a composite 5-star defensive lineman and the No. 26 overall player nationally. He is the No. 1 strong-side defensive end prospect.
Ray finished his senior season at James Clemens High School with 124 tackles, including 25 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 16 quarterback hurries, 2 fumble recoveries and a blocked punt. As a junior in 2015, Ray recorded 113 tackles with 20 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.
Ray was a two-time Alabama Sports Writers Association 7A Lineman of the Year and two-time all-state selection.
Ray has all of the tools to come in and make a contribution right away. The pass rush should be strong again this season. Remember Terrell Hall’s pick six at A-Day? Aaron Suttles points out one of the reasons it happened:
Keeping in mind that Hall stands a full six-foot-five, take a look at the length of those arms. No wonder Tua failed to get enough lift on that swing pass. Terrell has a freakish wingspan that will hopefully show up in games this fall.
Truth is, though, Hurts may be better off not attending SEC Media Days. Thanks to an abundance of talent at other positions and a run of fall battles at that marquee spot, only two of Saban's Alabama quarterbacks have attended the event: Greg McElroy in 2010 and AJ McCarron in 2013.
They were in their final years with the Crimson Tide as Saban tends to reserve the Media Days spots for veterans. It didn't end well for either of them.
Scarb is implying that sending the QB to media days cost Alabama in 2010 and 2013. Seems legit.
Don’t be surprised if Damien Harris is the starter again this season. Harris is consistent, he blocks well and he does all the little things Alabama likes in a running back. Harris is Alabama’s lone 1,000-yard rusher from a season ago. He rushed for 1,040 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Freshmen Najee Harris or Brian Robinson could develop into feature running backs at some point in their careers, but they aren’t there yet.
I have a feeling Najee is going to look like a star back sooner than later, even if the depth chart prevents him from piling up huge numbers.
Lastly, Coach Avery had his wedding anniversary yesterday:
. Happy Anniversary to @AlabamaMBB Team Mom Mrs Cassandra! 26 years! ❤️— Avery Johnson (@CoachAvery6) July 6, 2017
Congrats to Avery and Cassandra on their day and on raising what is by all accounts a fine young man in Avery Jr. Great family.
That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.