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Jumbo Package: A Tempered Gump Day

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Mark Ingram headlines the news, but not in a good way

NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We’ll start with the bad news:

Saints RB Mark Ingram suspended four games by NFL

Fresh off the best season of his NFL career -- and heading into the final year of his contract -- New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has been suspended four games for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Ingram, 28, will miss games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants. He will be eligible to return to the Saints’ active roster on Monday, Oct. 1.

Ingram will be eligible to participate in all offseason practices and preseason games.

Despite a slower start than expected to his career, the former Heisman trophy winner has easily been the best 1st round drafted running back of the 2009-2014 NFL drafts. He’s really come into his own the last four seasons, and is up for a big new third contract— a rarity in the NFL, especially at his position.

Now, instead of having a season to show his stuff and earn a bunch of money, he’s going to miss 25% of it and have the PED stigma over his head the rest of his career. I haven’t seen anywhere what the drugs he was caught taking were, so it doesn’t necessarily mean steroids. Quite often, these suspensions end up happening when a player takes a prescription med, such as Adderall for ADHD, without first notifying and getting consent from the league.

Hopefully, this ends up being nothing more than that and Ingram gets himself clean of whatever the culprit drug is. He’s a first time offender, so the 4-game suspension is really just a slap on the wrist. If it happens again, though, it’ll be a full season... which would spell a career-ender for a 30-year-old running back.

Secret life of NFL scouts: How one photo sold Dolphins on drafting Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick

There’s a reason behind Alabama breaking a school and SEC record with 12 players drafted last weekend. (An additional five members of the Tide agreed to free-agent deals.) While it’s obvious that Alabama coach Nick Saban recruits, trains and develops top-tier talent each year, it’s well known in NFL circles that Alabama is the most accommodating college program for NFL scouts.

Not only does Alabama have rare talent and play in a scheme that mirrors what players will do in the NFL. The Tide also are open virtually 24/7 for scouts, as there’s no restrictions or paranoia. To Saban, restricting access and information for scouts would be like a business school limiting recruiters from Apple, Google and Amazon.

“A lot of college coaches, they see things through a microscope in terms of their college and university program,” Saban told Yahoo Sports on Monday. “If you’ve been in the NFL before, it broadens your scope in understanding players want to play in the NFL someday. To me, I’ve always felt like you’re in a little bit of a partnership with the NFL.”

The Crimson Tide are as open and accessible the week of the Mercer game as they are the Auburn game. Practices are open to scouts during spring ball, summer camp and game weeks. All film is available, as Winston points out that Alabama practice film showing Calvin Ridley go against Anthony Averett in one-on-ones is just as valuable as scouting a game rep. If a scout wants to work ahead on their next stop, often Auburn or Mississippi State, Bama will provide the opponent’s film.

This is a really good piece from Yahoo! about how Nick Saban has made such an effort to partner with the NFL to help his players make good decisions and help them to have the best chance possible to succeed in life once they leave the program.

Obviously, Minkah Fitzpatrick makes an anecdotal appearance. A Dolphins scout was in the facility one time and walked into the Alabama film room early one morning, only to find Minkah sitting there alone and watching film. He snapped a picture, sent it to his boss, and now Fitzpatrick is a Miami Dolphin.

One-on-one: Pierce Quick interviews Paul Tyson

Both Quick and Tyson, as well as 2020 four-star receiver Dazalin Worsham who committed to the Tide on A-Day weekend, are active leaders of the Tide’s 2019 and ’20 recruiting efforts. Ask any top target of Alabama’s and you’re likely to hear them mention one of the three talking to them about joining the Tide.

Having class leaders like Alabama does for this year is something the Tide hasn’t seen much of since the 2017 cycle when VanDarius Cowan led the charge, among others, to recruit the best of the best to Tuscaloosa. 2018 has its class leaders like Jordan Davis and Xavier Williams, but nothing that yielded much momentum like we’ve seen over the course of the last four weeks.

The trio of Huskies took time out of their day on Tuesday to show off their broadcast skills and interview each other, ranging in topics from who do they model their game after, all the way to their best Nick Saban impersonation. You can watch the video by clicking play above.

In recruiting news, the more you hear about this class, the more it feels like the 2015 or 2017 classes that had commits on board and doing a lot of the recruiting work for the coaches throughout the year. In particular, the talent coming out of the Trussville area this year is tremendous, so having that core group of guys is huge for building camaraderie for the enter class.

Also, there’s a video in the link with Tyson and Quick talking to each other about Alabama and just generally goofing off, if you’re interested.

Former Alabama, Arizona State QB Blake Barnett chooses USF as transfer destination

The long and winding career for former five-star quarterback Blake Barnett is headed to the sunshine state. A source told CBS Sports that Barnett, a redshirt junior graduate transfer, will join South Florida and contend for the starting quarterback job this fall. The move was first reported by 620 WDAE in Tampa.

Barnett started the season opener for Alabama in 2016 against USC. In three games as a redshirt freshman for the Crimson Tide, he completed 11 of his 19 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns. But in that season opener, then-true freshman Jalen Hurts took control of the starting quarterback job and relegated Barnett to a backup role.

Surfer Blake is on the move again, this time to South Florida to play for Charlie Strong. If anything, it’s surprising he didn’t end up at Florida Atlantic to play with his old coach, Lane Kiffin.

I also don’t know how any one player can still have any eligibility left to him after transferring twice, but I guess Blake will loophole his way all the way through. Hopefully he’ll get his one year as a starter to finally prove to the world just how deserving he was.

That’s it for today. Roll Tide!