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Jumbo Package: Alabama on pace to sign its best-ever offensive line class

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Amari Kight adds to an already-impressive unit

Part bad-ass OT, part bad-ass recruiter for the Tide

After a hiccup last December, a revamped Alabama staff hit the ground running this Spring — and the Tide’s diminished returns from the 2017 Early Signing Period won’t repeat themselves. With yesterday’s commitment of Amari Kight, Alabama is on pace to have the best offensive line recruiting class in the country.

Maybe the best ever.

Speaking of recruiting classes, the renovated recruiting area at the football complex is certainly an impressive one if you’re a blue chipper with NFL aspirations or just want to point to the achievements of your cohort:

And don’t think for one second that all of those jerseys and First Round paychecks don’t matter or can be recruited-around by other teams. The Crimson Tide’s huge NFL Draft weekend cemented Kight’s commitment to Alabama.

The corollary is true, as well. Some underachieving big-brand schools lost commitments after the draft because of their inability to develop players into quality pro prospects.

“They were close,” [Garrett] Wilson said of Texas. “I’m not going to lie, the official visit made me think about them a little more. In the end, I’ve watched a lot of people go to Texas with a ton of ability and maybe not achieve what I thought they could. I didn’t want to be one of those guys.

And that stigma endures for several recruiting cycles to boot. Wilson chose the Buckeyes over the Longhorns and FSU — two teams that have failed to develop 5-star talents. And he called them out for it when committing to Ohio State.

Ouch.

Those wanting a peek at pattern-matching defenses are in for a great read this morning. Football Study Hall breaks down defensive switching, with an extended look at Alabama’s Cover 3 “mable” pattern-matching. Excellent stuff here from Boyd.

In college football, defense has long been defined by something akin to switching, which is to play “pattern-matching” coverages designed to allow defenders to stay in their respective areas of responsibility on the field and to keep receivers in front of them rather than overly worrying about maintaining matchups.

For instance, Nick Saban’s ubiquitous “mable” coverage for playing cover 3 against a trips formation. In this coverage, Alabama drops a safety down over a slot receiver to keep the LBs in the box and then players basically defend routes on the strong side with man coverage techniques based on whether they distribute into their zone of responsibility. On the backside they play man coverage.

After being granted a medical Redshirt by the NCAA, Sr. Riley Norris has confirmed that he will be returning to the Crimson Tide. Tuscaloosa News’ venerable Cecil Hurts spoke with Coach Avery Johnson yesterday, and it looks like the roster is set for 2018-2019, though there is the possibility of adding one more player “if it’s the right fit.”

If you missed our NSD piece on ‘Bama’s incoming recruits, and who else will round a roster that returns Donta Hall, Dazon Ingram, John Petty and Tevin Mack, CB has you covered here.

This is completely random and out of the blue, Sentient Mediocrity Chan Gailey has advice for Nick Saban on how to handle the Tide’s lingering QB battle. That’s like a lion taking lessons from an ant on how to properly groom one’s mane, but offseason gonna’ offseason.

For a week we’ve been scratching our heads over how Shea Patterson became immediately available for transfer to Michigan. Nothing in the rules seemed to permit it, and lawsuits were threatened, owing to Ole Miss’ bad faith in recruiting and lying to players about the severity of the allegations.

Well, now we know: The NCAA caught everyone off-guard and inserted language changing the rule.

The modified rule that allowed Shea Patterson to transfer immediately to Michigan was finalized only last week after months of wrangling.

According to the latest NCAA Division I Council report, a key phrase was inserted into the wording labeled, “Modification of NCAA Division I Committee for Legislative Relief NCAA Division I Four-Year College Transfers Directive.”

According to the modification, a player can transfer without restriction granted there are “documented mitigating circumstances outside the student-athlete’s control.” The modification became effective only last Wednesday.

The attorney in me loves the completely capricious phrase “mitigating circumstances outside the student-athlete’s control.” It’s not a wide-open exemption for players at schools under penalty, but nor does it have the harshness of previous transfer language. And as with all things NCAA, in the end, the body retains complete discretion over how to define the mitigators and whether or not to even grant them.

I suspect this language was inserted to head off lawsuits avoid PR hits, but that kind of ambiguity seems calculated to lead to it rather than reduce it.

I mean, I’d take that case.

That’s it for now. Go forth to evil.