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Jumbo Package: Can Jaylen Waddle win the punt return job this season?

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Student Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. We will open today with BamaOnline’s Travis Reier, who wants to know “Who ya got?” as Alabama’s punt returner this season.

As for what’s ahead, Diggs, Marks and Ruggs continue to be likely candidates for the job during the upcoming season. That’s the way it looked on A-Day, anyway, as Diggs and Marks served as the top two options on punts. Both can expect serious competition, however, from incoming freshman Jaylen Waddle, who, like Marks, hails from the greater Houston area. The four-star Texan comes to Tuscaloosa as the No. 5 wide receiver and No. 39 player overall for the 2018 recruiting cycle, according to the 247sports Composite rankings.

Waddle is the player I am most excited about in this role. Saban talked about Eddie Jackson excelling in the role because he understood how to “pick his way” and Waddle’s tape seems to show the same type of vision and instincts. Combine that with his smaller frame that allows him to be shifty and deceptive plus track speed, and you have a potential gamebreaker.

It’s been a while since 2015, so maybe that’s why some folks forget that Deionte Thompson came in as a top 50 overall prospect and the #2 safety in his class. For whatever reason, he didn’t reach the field as quickly as classmates Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison, but his time has arrived.

This is your secondary, Deionte. Make us proud.

Coach Cochran has the boys hard at work, as usual.

That appears to be six plates, which would equal 585 lbs.

Here’s one of those feel good stories to make you feel good.

Since sustaining a compound fracture in his lower leg in an Oct. 1, 2005, game against Florida, Prothro had 12 surgeries in as many years to repair the gruesome injury that ended his career.

Outside of his current coaching stop at Jasper, Prothro also served as a mini-camp intern with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers under former Alabama coach Mike Shula. He is currently working towards a master’s degree in education while he coaches high school receivers.

Coach Prothro has a great ring to it. Hopefully we will see him winning state titles and sending lots of elite players to Tuscaloosa as a head man one day.

SEC Country shuts down for good this weekend, and Chris Kirschner went out with a nice longform feature on Taulia Tagovailoa that’s worth your time.

Jones believes what separates Tua and Taulia from other quarterbacks is their desire to be great. Their work ethic, he says, is “unbelievable.” He thinks that drive has a lot to do with Galu’s training methods.

Every three-to-four weeks, he talks with Taulia and they text periodically. It can be a text war at times because the Tiger-Cats are in their season and Taulia is busy with camps.

Jones only coached him for one year, but he saw enough to make himself a believer in Taulia.

“I do know this: He’s his own quarterback,” Jones said. “He was doing the same thing at Kapolei while his brother was the best in the state of Hawaii. The desire to be the best is there. He feels no pressure. He loves the game. He wants to play. He wants to work out. He wants to watch film. You have to love the game, and he does.”

Former high school coordinator Galu has to be proud of both young men. They are as grounded as they are talented, and that is rare for elite athletes of that age.

Kirschner’s colleague Christopher Walsh is also going out with a bang. He posted the fourth of a five part series on Nick Saban’s coaching tree.

What does it say about the Volunteers that Phillip Fulmer hired someone from Alabama? Or that Saban then turned around and hired UT’s former head coach Butch Jones as an analyst?

If you can’t beat them, join them, is becoming the norm in college football, and with Saban having had 100 assistant coaches the options are only growing.

Fisher won a title at Florida State, but has moved on to Texas A&M where he’ll go up against his mentor on a regular basis. Mark Dantonio keeps surprising people at Michigan State. Mario Cristobal is at Oregon …

Yet Saban keeps plugging away. Every year his coaching staff gets raided and the Crimson Tide have been ranked No. 1 at some point of every season since 2008. One has to go back to 2010 to find an Alabama regular season game in which it wasn’t in contention for the national title.

All that while becoming a big old softy as he ages.

“I know Nick Saban gets a rap of being a no-nonsense guy, and a guy that doesn’t like talking to the media, and doesn’t like being out in public,” said former Alabama offensive lineman Mike Johnson. “But what Nick Saban likes even more than that is winning and having talent and doing all those things. For him to step out behind that shadow, I think this is another step in the evolution that is Nick Saban.”

It is a calculated move by persnickety coach to alter the perception of his program as a grim football factory belching out robotic players who suppress their personalities in the name of “The Process.”

We’ve said it for years, but Saban’s ability to adapt has kept him on top. He has mastered the social media game where recruiting is concerned, and appears to be lapping the field. Again.

Of course, it’s good to be rich.

No. 5 Alabama

School: Alabama

Revenue: $174,307,419

Expenses: $158,646,962

Difference: + $15,657,457

Texas, Texas A&M, Ohio St. and Michigan were the top four.

As you know, Alabama recently landed the commitment of 2020 QB Carson Beck.

“[Enos] said he loves my strong arm, my balance when I’m in the pocket and my ability to run at the size I’m at,’ Beck said.

Alabama has offered and hosted a handful of 2020 signal callers this offseason.

“Coach Enos said they were only going to take one (quarterback),” Beck said. “That’s kind of why I did commit there because of how much they said they wanted me. They said unanimously as a staff they’ve never had it happen to where everyone was like this is the guy we want.”

Honestly, I don’t like the sound of that. Alabama has offers out to top overall QB prospect DJ Uiagalelei from SoCal as well as high four-star Harrison Bailey from Marietta, GA. It’s hard to believe that they will simply pull off of those recruitments because Beck committed.

Last, Marcell Dareus made headlines for his philanthropy.

Dareus was 6 years old when his Haitian-born father, Jules Dareus, died from prostate cancer. His mother, Michelle Luckey, died in 2010 from heart failure shortly after Dareus won a national championship with the Alabama. Jules Dareus lived in Haiti until early adulthood before coming to the United States.

“I promised my mom that I would support Haiti in any way I could and now I am using my platform to keep my promise,″ Dareus said. ″It’s a beautiful country with incredible people and children who need help. I want to make sure I do everything I can to lift them up. This is just the beginning of what we’re looking to accomplish here. I plan to come back after next season to see the new school and decide what else I can do to continue to build a legacy of hope for Haiti.”

Talk about using personal tragedy as motivation to help others. Fantastic story, and kudos to Marcell for following through on his promise.

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

Roll Tide.