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Jumbo Package: Pannunzio’s ties to south Florida already paying dividends

Making sense of the coaching changes plus other Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Fresno State at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. It was something of a shock to the fanbase to see longtime RB coach Burton Burns, regarded as one of the best in the business, moving to a front office role, particularly since Burns is also a top-notch recruiter. Let’s take a look at that move, shall we?

Also, I think a lot of fans may not realize but Pannunzio did an excellent job recruiting for Alabama in the Class of 2018. He was the primary recruiter for 5-star cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. and 4-star cornerback Josh Jobe. He also played a big role in keeping 4-star Jack linebacker Jordan Davis and 4-star wide receiver Xavier Williams committed for as long as they were.

Nobody in college football has a better resume producing running backs than Burns at Alabama. As a former high school coach in New Orleans and a Louisiana native, he’s also been a huge thorn in the side of LSU by stealing some of Louisiana’s best like Landon Collins, Tim Williams and more recently Devonta Smith. As noted above, Pannunzio is no slouch in recruiting, but he’s never coached running backs and Burns leaves huge shoes to fill. The hires of Scott, Golding and even Banks should help soften the recruiting blow from Burns getting off the trail given the depth of experience those three have in the state of Louisiana. Still, Burns’ production on the field will be hard to replace.

My take on this move is two-fold: first, it has been rumored for a while that Burns was ready to get off the road. The man has been a tireless recruiter for many years, and at 65 he may well be better suited to touch all of the prospects when they show up on campus. I mean, we already know his pitch.


A post shared by Coach Burton Burns (@alabamacoachburns) on

Secondly, Pannunzio will fill the void in south Florida left by Mario Cristobal. Like Mario, Joe has deep ties to the area from his time with the Hurricanes. Unfortunately he had some role in the scandal down there, but he left Miami seven years ago and has paid his penance. It also can’t hurt to send a former NFL personnel man into a five-star’s living room. Bottom line, he got the job done this cycle.

As mentioned, the biggest concern has to be the state of Louisiana, and that onus will indeed fall on Golding and Scott. Golding hails from Hammond, LA and worked at Southeastern Louisiana and Southern Miss, which sits less than an hour from New Orleans. Scott worked with Golding at Southeastern Louisiana, where he spent three seasons, before moving on to Texas Tech last season. Both men should have some existing relationships with high school coaches there. Needless to say, far more Louisiana kids got offers from Southeastern than places like LSU and Alabama.

Alabama coach Nick Saban has promoted Mike Locksley to offensive coordinator and Josh Tupoi to defensive coordinator and hired two new assistants.

Saban announced the promotions Thursday along with the hiring of Dan Enos as quarterbacks coach and Craig Kuligowski as defensive line coach. Both will also be associate head coaches.

Locksley and Tupoi had both been co-coordinators for the defending national champions.

Oh, I just posted this to make fun of ESPN. Just in case they actually notice and fix their headline at some point:

I mean, Josh is admittedly a very desirable name, but I imagine that Tosh Lupoi would rather go by the one he was given. Just a hunch.

Alabama listed nine redshirts from last season including, Brannon, Mathis, Mac Jones, Chadarius Townsend, Tyrell Shavers, Kyriq McDonald, Markail Benton, Kendal Randolph and Joseph Bulovas.

Tight end Miller Forristall, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury against Colorado State last season, received a medical redshirt and is listed as a redshirt sophomore.

One interesting change of note came in junior Trevon Diggs who was listed as a defensive back/ wide receiver. Diggs was listed only as a defensive back last season but played as a receiver during his freshman season.

Several of those redshirts will have a big opportunity next season, particularly Mathis, Shavers, McDonald, and Benton. All four play in position groups that lost multiple starters to the draft and each has been labeled at one point or another as a “guy to watch” based on practice performance. Good to see Forristall get a year of eligibility back, too.

As part of the week’s activities, participating media cast their votes to predict the SEC champion and order of finish for the coming season. Only six times in the last 25 seasons has the SEC Media Days predicted champion proceeded to win the SEC Championship, two of which have occurred in the last four years.

Pretty sure those two have something in common, hoss.

Marcus Spears was among those that posted reactions on social media Monday night when word began to spread that Craig Kuligowski may land at Alabama.

”Craig Kuligowski is a Bad man at getting Dlineman that ‘Bag’ and making them better,” the former NFL defensive lineman and current SEC Network analyst wrote. “He goes to Bama it’s gonna be a problem.”

Kuligowski is known as one of the best DL coaches in the business, but the Miami fans seemed less than enamored with his recruiting. Still, he seems like the right man at the right time to coach up a DL group that, while still immensely talented, doesn’t have quite the top end star power we’ve seen the past few seasons.

Alabama’s 2018 Pro Day will take place Wednesday, March 7, and air on the SEC Network, the league announced Thursday.

The Crimson Tide’s annual in-house auditions for NFL teams will air on the SEC Network at noon CT that day. Peter Burns will host the Pro Day show from Tuscaloosa along with analysts Marcus Spears and Tom Luginbill. In addition, Greg McElroy will be on site at Alabama, and draft specialist Matt Bowen will also contribute to the studio coverage surrounding the Tide.

Set your DVRs. Amazing that we have come to a point where workouts are carried on national television.

At 6-foot, 233 pounds, Hamilton is shorter than desired for an inside linebacker. He also lacks power as a tackler compared to larger players. It’s those physical limitations that will push him back in the draft.

It’s unclear how much Hamilton will be able to do at the NFL combine coming off his injury, but he told 247Sports earlier this year that his recovery is progressing well. Hamilton, a high school valedictorian, will knock his interviews out of the park. During that process he’ll probably also gently remind teams he found a way to thrive at Alabama despite being more physically limited than all of his depth chart competition.

As usual, the NFL types are too enamored with certain measurables despite the fact that some of the better MLBs in league history - Sam Mills, London Fletcher, and Jessie Tuggle come to mind - stood well below six feet tall.

Hoops needs an electric crowd on Saturday for what would likely be a bid-clinching victory over Arkansas.

Good news. Be loud, y’all.

The Crimson Tide (17-11, 7-8 SEC) forced the Lady Bulldogs (23-5, 11-4 SEC) into a season-high 27 turnovers in the loss.

Senior Ashley Williams fell just one rebound shy of her third consecutive game with a double-double, finishing the contest with a team-high 14 points and nine rebounds. Senior Hannah Cook ended with eight points and a career-high eight steals. Cook needed just one more steal to tie the school record for the most takeaways in a single game.

Unfortunately this probably ends any slim hopes that the women had for an NCAA bid, but they made a great run at it down the stretch.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.