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Jumbo Package: As Spring Practice nears, all eyes turn to the Tide’s high stakes quarterback battle

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Jalen Hurts vs. Tua Tagovailoa — you’ll hear that more than a few times the next 6 months

CFP National Championship presented by AT&T - Alabama v Georgia Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

San Fran GM, John Lynch, finally broke the silence on the Reuben Foster arrest. Well, sort of. What he didn’t say regarding the second-year linebacker’s arrest for marijuana could fill volumes.

It sounds like your basic “let the legal process play out and we’ll try to forget about it by the time OTAs roll around”:

Without going into details, Lynch said the 49ers had talked to Foster about his situation.

”The context, in a broad sense, of what we discussed with Reuben, is just our expectations for him and our expectations for all of our players,” Lynch said. “We have a high standard. I think we made that very clear. We remain in communication, but a lot of that’s going to remain private between us because of a lot of things such as the ongoing legal matter and protocols that are in place.”

Unlike Rolando McClain in Decatur or Marcell Dareus within reach of anything smokeable, let’s keep the human missile away from the weed, shall we?

Speaking of weed, don’t try to play baseball at Texas Wesleyan if you’re from Colorado. In one of the weirder recent recruiting moments, the school announced it is investigating coach MIke Jeffcoat for a bizarre message he sent to a high school prospect (one who is drug-free and has never been in trouble with the law, at school or with his team):

It was both odd and not prudent for Jeffcoat, as a representative of the university, to hold a kid hostage to (and responsible for) a bipartisan policy decision made by the state his parents just happen to live in. For Jeffcoat, 58, this may just be a geezer venting political spleen coupled with an abiding wish for the damn hippies to get off his lawn.

But, one could view it another way: If the intent was to make clear that Colorado prospects aren’t welcome at Texas Wesleyan, in this viral age, there are few things he could have done that would have had quite the immediate impact and spread the word like shooting this kid down.

I honestly don’t know the answer here. But, one thing I do know: the skipper of a private sectarian school, in a conservative state, the program’s winningest coach (529-358-1 (.596)), and one of four active managers to have 500 wins, isn’t about to get fired for being a jerk or for making a snarky political comment.

Winning cures a lot of ills, be they real or imagined.

Aye Ell dot Cawm continues its look at data from PFF on Alabama reserves who could shine in 2018. Let’s just excerpt OLB, shall we?

Outside linebacker

It is arguably the most important position in Nick Saban’s defense.

Yet most of the time only one player on the field occupies it. The Crimson Tide is stocked at outside linebacker. Starter Anfernee Jennings is returning, although he is coming back from a serious knee injury suffered in the College Football Playoff semifinal.

He will be supported by Terrell Lewis, the rangy junior who produced two tackles for loss in 143 snaps after missing the majority of the 2017 season because of a torn elbow ligament. Lewis is seen as an emerging pass rusher. So too is Chris Allen, a rising sophomore who played 102 snaps in his first year on campus.

The rest of the defense is here. God #content by Al.com

While PFF and AL put the spotlight on potential stars, B/R names Alabama as one of the most star-studded teams to watch in 2018. The Tide is loaded with household names, and those destined to be:

The A-listers: Alabama will be the home of college football’s most intriguing quarterback battle this offseason. Jalen Hurts has started for two years, but Tua Tagovailoa is an enormous reason the Crimson Tide won the national title last season. Damien Harris has back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns, and Jonah Williams is one of the most respected offensive linemen in the country.

It was remiss of B/R to not list any of the Tide’s WRs, most of whom should vie for headspace in the national football conscience over the next few seasons.

Bama Online has you covered though, in this great article on the baby beastlings who shined on the outside in 2017:

Alabama fans received a sneak peek of the future -- while enjoying the present -- of the Crimson Tide’s wide receiver position during the team’s championship-winning 2017 campaign.

Freshmen Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith were the first wideouts off the bench for Alabama and appeared in all 14 games. And they are poised to be UA’s next starting trio with Calvin Ridley, Robert Foster and Cam Sims not returning for 2018.

Two cool things for SEC sports fans:

The first is the announcement of the CBS 24/7 streaming service:

CBS today launched CBS SPORTS HQ, a 24-hour streaming sports news network offering news, highlights and analysis, easily accessible for free on connected devices. The new digital network is a collaboration between CBS Sports and CBS Interactive and allows sports fans to watch full-day, live, anchored coverage featuring game breakdowns and the day’s top sports storylines.

The second, is the addition of an all-SEC Sports station to the XM Radio lineup. From the presser:

SiriusXM SEC Radio, the exclusive new audio channel dedicated to SEC sports, will launch on Monday, March 5. The 24/7 channel, which was first announced last fall by the Southeastern Conference and SiriusXM, will deliver fans across the country in-depth and comprehensive access to SEC-focused sports talk and news, plus an extensive schedule of SEC games, including every game of next week’s men’s conference basketball tournament.

The new channel’s programming lineup will feature exclusive new shows that will cover various sports and are hosted by former SEC athletes and conference insiders.

SEC This Morning, hosted by Peter Burns and former LSU All-American Marcus Spears, will air live every weekday morning from 7:00 to 10:00 am ET. Chris Childers and University of Florida Hall of Famer Chris Doering will host the afternoon drive time show, SEC Today, every weekday from 3:00 to 6:00 pm ET. Listeners will hear a replay of SEC Network’s popular The Paul Finebaum Show every weekday evening from 6:00 to 10:00 pm ET. Finebaum’s show will continue to air live on ESPN Xtra, SiriusXM channel 81.

On the subject of that high stakes impending quarterback, CBS’ Ben Kercheval has a great read on it. Get some eyeballs on a decent story here; lord knows we’ll be inundated with enough terrible takes the next few months.

Officially, Alabama’s highly anticipated quarterback competition between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa will begin in March when the Crimson Tide kicks off spring practice. But that’s “officially” in loosest meaning of the word. This position battle, which figures to be the most publicized and closely watched of its kind throughout the offseason, has been a storyline in the making for the past year.

Some, like former Crimson Tide quarterback and current ESPN college football analyst Greg McElroy, might say it started when Tagovailoa signed and enrolled early at Alabama in January 2017. Tagovailoa was a five-star recruit and the top dual-threat quarterback in his class, according to 247Sports. That might be enough to start immediately at most programs. However, Hurts was coming off a freshman campaign in which he was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and took the Crimson Tide to a national championship appearance against Clemson. Tagovailoa’s decision to enroll early anyway bucked the trend of the modern blue-chip quarterback.

The SEC is breaking in a ton of new coordinators, as you’d expect from a conference that saw half of the conference make moves to new head coaches. On the field, Alabama still has Nick Saban...and, well...Nick Saban:

Alabama, meanwhile, will be breaking in two new coordinators. Both Mike Locksley (offense) and Tosh Lupoi (defense) have been on the staff, so they know what is expected. Lupoi’s mandate should be quite clear because Nick Saban is so hands-on with the defense. Locksley, meanwhile, will have to manage the offseason’s most fascinating quarterback competition, as well as its aftermath. At some point, he’ll have to choose between quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts and then manage the aftermath of that choice. Both QBs’ families are savvy enough to keep either one from getting stuck in a bad situation, so don’t expect this to get dragged out too long. The reported addition of East Carolina graduate transfer Gardner Minshew is another hint that the Crimson Tide are preparing for the possibility that one of the top two quarterbacks will transfer.

That’s all for now. Roll Tide