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Jumbo Package: Tide flips four-star Baton Rouge linebacker from Texas A&M

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T-Minus three weeks until Early Signing Period, and ‘Bama still owns Louisiana

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">Louisiana v Alabama

We’re making a habit of this.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I wanted to start with basketball today, because Collin Sexton, who was the subject of some media grousing earlier this year, is learning more every game and improving at the same clip. Last night, he faced the player that he was most compared to in college, Russ Westbrook and the OKC Thunder.

All Young Bull did was have his second career double-double. Of course, Russ had his customary triple-double, the Thunder romped, and the Cavaliers dropped to 4-16. But, hey, it wasn’t for Collin’s lack of effort.

Yesterday’s practice report is here and of note is the DB grouping: Keaton Anderson, who had a good Spring and Fall, looks to have nailed down the Money start on Saturday until knucklehead serves his first-half timeout for earholing a Barner:

— Keaton Anderson was the sixth defensive back in with Alabama’s dime defense. He lined up at strong safety. As usual, Xavier McKinney was at dime back. In case you forgot, the regular sixth DB, Jared Mayden, will miss the first half against Georgia because of the targeting call against him during the second half of the Auburn game last week.

Should we create a billboard or nah?

Yesterday’s presser:

Opening statement

”Well, we had good work in practice today. I think the players are focused on what we need to do, and the focus needs to be on great preparation from this time forward in terms of not necessarily practicing more. Sometimes less is more in terms of practice, but the mental preparation, watching film and understanding what the other team does and understanding the plan. This is a great competitive venue, the SEC Championship, and a great environment, against a really, really good team. I think that we all want to try to get ready to be our best.

”Winning the SEC is something that’s very, very meaningful, I think to a lot of people, and certainly to the players on our team.”

I started with the good news about the players preparation — because the slight bummer is that Terrell Lewis won’t be ready to play for a good while, and certainly not by Saturday. His return to practice is just one step on the road to recovery.

Heal up, my man. There’s a solid month before the playoffs begin. Maybe we’ll see you then.

This is an outstanding longform by Yahoo’s Henry Bushnell on how Alabama’s football program was burned to the ground and then rebuilt from scratch. If you read one story today (besides our #content, of course) make it this one:

Saban’s “Process” has become equal parts cliché and legendary. It’s the standard against which college football programs are measured. It’s been copied and pasted with varying degrees of success. It keeps on churning out unrivaled talent, the latest collection of which enters Saturday’s SEC championship game as a double-digit favorite over No. 4 Georgia.

But first, it had to reignite a dormant power that hadn’t won it all since 1992. To do so, in Tuscaloosa in 2007, it had to be revolutionary. It unbuttoned norms and quashed complacency. For members of Saban’s inaugural ‘Bama team, it was shocking. Yahoo Sports spoke with more than a dozen of them for first-hand accounts from Saban’s ground floor. They told of sweeping change. Of methods that were “night and day” compared to the previous regime. Of comprehensive mental programming, stringent rules and relentless attention to detail that left many gifted athletes in the dust.

This will (not) surprise you, but the events that triggered the LSU-A&M brawl were begun by Barn alumnus Dameyune Craig

This is an unreal statistic:

With Dec. 19 and the early signing day rapidly approaching, the Georgia and Alabama talent assembly line extends as far as the eye can see. No less than 13 of the 247Sports Composite top 50 players are either committed or likely to land at either Alabama or Georgia.

More on the UGA-Bama recruiting trail war above.

This is gonna’ leave a mark: Not only did LSU lose a 4-star linebacker from Baton Rouge to Texas A&M, but then yesterday Alabama flipped the same kid and earned a commitment:

Another highly-ranked linebacker from LSU’s backyard is headed to Alabama.

Four-star inside linebacker Christian Harris flipped his commitment from Texas A&M to the Crimson Tide Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Baton Rouge product had been committed to the Aggies since August.

#OurState

Still, as our crootin’ folks have opined, this silver cloud may have a darker lining, signaling that 5-star Nakobe Dean may be headed elsewhere. Considering the need at the position, they certainly could take both.

Pals, do I have some hilarious hot takes for you

Nobody expects that to happen [Georgia to blow out Alabama]. In fact, the expectation is exactly the opposite. Everybody expects the Crimson Tide to handle Georgia just like they’ve handled all their opponents this season. You know, winning by the average margin of 35.25 points per game.

That’s the narrative, that the Bulldogs don’t stand a chance, that they’ll be lucky to even keep it close. Bama’s too good, Tua’s too great, Saban’s too brilliant, and so on.

Don’t believe them.

Tua Tagovailoa was named a Walter Camp finalist yesterday. He is joined by the familiar trio of other quarterback standouts (Will Grier, Kyler Murray, Gardner Minshew), and the most ferocious pass rusher in college football, Kentucky’s Josh Allen:

Tagovailoa leads the nation in collegiate passer efficiency at 212.5 and his 146.5 NFL passer rating ranks first among all FBS quarterbacks with at least 230 attempts. The sophomore is No. 2 in ESPN’s Total QBR metric at 94.7 (out of 100). Tagovailoa has thrown for 3,189 yards on 189-of-269 passing (70.3 percent) with a school-record 36 touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing 45 times for 211 yards and five scores.

#BamaBusts

Speaking of long-forms, this ESPN piece on Tua Tagovailoa is excellent. The decision to insert Tua apparently wasn’t even controversial or particularly risky: By Week 6, many of the coaching staff were ready to make a change *cough, brian daboll, cough*

Terrell Owens, the Hall of Fame receiver, stood on the field after Alabama took down Georgia and thought one thing: finally. He remembered visiting the program that summer, when he and receivers Calvin Ridley, Cam Sims and Jerry Jeudy were in search of a quarterback to throw to them. Hurts was busy, so they called up Tagovailoa. Owens wasn’t one to wait on a QB, let alone a freshman he’d never heard of, but they were raving about Tagovailoa so much that Owens had to see for himself.

For 90 minutes, Tagovailoa threw routes to Owens and the rest of the group. Of the countless passes he threw, Owens said he missed his mark only once.

”When you talk about precision, when you talk about timing, he was on point,” he said. “You talk about the ‘it’ factor, this guy has ‘it’ and then some. ... I’ve seen pro guys not hit routes like that.”

If Jalen Hurts is going anywhere, and he may or may not depending on what he thinks is best for his pro prospects and at which position, he’s not tipped his hand to Nick Saban. Right now, with the Real Season starting, everyone is focused on getting one win at a time — and hopefully three more:

Addressing a comment made on CBS during the Iron Bowl, Nick Saban said discussions with Hurts about transferring “really hasn’t” come up.

“We’re all kind of focused on this game,” Saban said Wednesday evening. “I think Jalen is focused on the game. I’m focused on the game. I don’t think anybody is thinking much about that now and I don’t think we’ll be thinking a lot about it until we finish playing.”

I’m not sure if he’ll actually get it, but Mike Locksley is apparently being interviewed for the Maryland coaching vacancy:

According to reports from InsideMDSports.com and The Washington Post, Mike Locksley will interview for the head coaching vacancy at Maryland after Alabama’s 13th game of the 2018 season. The Terrapins’ interviews are being conducted by the Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search, and the title game is in Atlanta. Maryland has already interviewed Matt Canada, per reports.

I suspect this is a courtesy interview to placate boosters and fans who wonder why not Locks, the local product with a great recruiting touch? It’s surprising for a lot of reasons though: the New Mexico tenure was a disaster (2-26, cratering attendance); there were several off-the-field issues; and, perhaps worse, there were notable blow-ups within the program, including punching an assistant and allegations of sexual harassment that had to be settled out of court.

For a program coming off the death of a player because of program mismanagement and abuse by coaching staff, I don’t know how on earth (or why) the Terps would take this kind of PR hit, not to say the long-term risk of falling further behind in B1G-East, just as they look to be turning a corner. As the stock prospectus reads: past performance may not be an indicator of future performance. But, as commonsense also tells you, it’s a pretty damned good barometer.

Still, I could be mistaken here, and he could earn the job. I’ve been wrong before...allegedly.

We’ll have more for you later today: Georgia defensive preview, Q&A with Dawg Sports on a UGA team that in many respects looks as different as it looks the same, Giving Away Money around 2:00, and then whatever else tickles our fancy.

Roll Tide