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Things start shaking up with the start of spring practice, and Alabama hires a new analyst

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama football: Tua Tagovailoa suffers injury on first day of spring practice

“Tua hurt his thumb [Tuesday] in practice,” Saban said. “We’re taking him to Birmingham to get him evaluated. It’s probably going to require some time for him to get back. I don’t want to speculate on what the injury might be, but most of the time when these type things happen, it takes a little while for them to come back.”

Tagovailoa came into the game in the second half to help lead an Alabama comeback against Georgia in the National Championship Game. He was named Offensive MVP after completing 14 of 24 passes for 166 yards and 3 touchdowns. He added 27 yards rushing.

“I think in a few days, Tua will probably be able to do some things,” Saban said. “But when you hurt your thumb on your throwing hand, it’s kind of hard to grip the ball. I think that’s going to be the issue — whether he’s able to throw it.”

We’ll get the bad news out of the way first: Tua hurt his throwing thumb. It’s an injury that can really cause some issues to a QB during the season, but since it happened in March, I’m not too worried. He has plenty of time to rest it and let it heal.

DJ Fluker is headed to the Seattle Seahawks. His career has fallen a bit short of his 1st round draft pick expectations, winding up released from his original team in the San Diego Chargers. He made an immediate improvement last year to the Giants run game, but finished the season on the injured list. He’s now headed to Seattle to attempt to help shore up one of the worst rushing games in the last decade of NFL football that was the Seahawks’ 2017 rushing attack.

Alabama LB Keith Holcombe to focus on baseball; return to football team uncertain

It has yet to be determined whether Holcombe will return to the football team before next season, which would be his fifth year with the Tide.

”Keith wanted to sort of give baseball his best shot,” he said. “He’s always tried to do both.”

Saban and Holcombe met after Alabama won a national championship, and the coach told the linebacker to devote his complete attention to baseball.

The two plan to get together again later this spring to determine whether Holcombe will continue his football career.

Reading between the lines, it looks like Keith Holcombe may be considering not returning to the football team, and Saban may be very okay with supporting that decision. Holcombe was the butt of a lot of fan fury late in the 2017 season, but he has been a solid and steady key reserve for years for the Alabama football program.

DeVonta Smith experimenting at DB, other notes from Alabama’s first spring practice

-- Wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who caught the game-winning touchdown in the national title game, was working with the defensive backs during drills.

-- Henry Ruggs led one outside receiver line. Redshirt freshman Tyrell Shavers led the other. Jerry Jeudy was first in the slot receiver line.

The fact that a receiver who caught two game-winning touchdowns last year, including one in overtime in the National Championship, is being tested out at defensive back leads to two big inferences: the first is that the secondary is still very unsettled after losing 5 starters. The second is that the receiving corps are especially deep and talented.

That Tyrell Shavers is at the top of the drill order, and not 5th year senior Derek Kief also likely says a lot about Shavers’ progress during his redshirt year.

Grad transfer QB decommits from Alabama, headed to Pac 12

Alabama won’t be adding a graduate transfer quarterback after all.

Former East Carolina quarterback Gardner Minshew, who committed to the Crimson Tide in February, has decided to instead transfer to Washington State.

This puts Alabama in a tough spot at quarterback.

The Tide had very much wanted to add a fourth scholarship quarterback, especially recognizing that it could lose either Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa at some point before the season.

It was always kind of odd that a starting QB would transfer for his last season to a team where he had a 100% shot of sitting the bench, and may not even be second string. So it’s not really a surprise that Minshew changed his mind and is headed to the west coast to replace Luke Falk for Wazzu.

It’s official: Butch Jones has joined Alabama football staff

“He’s an intern, an analyst, I guess we could have several names for it,” Saban said during his press conference following Alabama’s first spring practice on Tuesday. “He can’t coach on the field. He can work with us off the field.”

Jones previous coached at Tennessee (2013-17), Cincinnati (2010-12) and Central Michigan (2007-09). That he was joining the Crimson Tide wasn’t new, and Jones was wearing an Alabama shirt while attending the recent pro day workouts for former players who are eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft.

However, Saban said that Jones wasn’t cleared by the NCAA until Tuesday.

“We have these things, these rules, and I don’t even know what they’re called, like we can’t hire high school coaches, we can’t hire people that have recruited other players who we’re recruiting and all that, so you have to go through a process with the NCAA,” Saban said. “So that finally got completed today so now he’s officially going to be part of the staff here.”

For quite a while now, the Alabama Crimson Tide has consistently been the best team in college football and have been the champions of the entire sport 5 times in the last 9 years. Now, they can add to that and reach one more step up by becoming Champions of Life.

Armond Davis has decided to transfer.

Kid had some tough luck suffering a season-ending injury on such a young team. It would be incredibly difficult for him to carve out a meaningful role next season with the returning numbers, particularly at the wings. Best of luck to him.