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Jumbo Package: LaBryan Ray embracing bigger role, Tide commits show out at The Opening

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Tennessee v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. DT signee Christian Barmore is officially headed to Tuscaloosa.

A few weeks ago it was reported that Barmore and DE signee Jordan Davis had some hurdles to clear. In Barmore’s case, it was simply that his Philadelphia high school didn’t let out in time for him to be able to enroll in early summer. Of course, things didn’t work out as well for Davis, though we still hope to see him in Tuscaloosa at some point.

The key DL commitment of the 2017 class is looking to build on his five-star potential.

Learning from Payne, Davis, Buggs and the rest of Alabama’s 2017 linemen aided Ray during his first year at Alabama, where he was asked to contribute one year earlier than expected.

“I learned a lot,” Ray said. “They taught me a lot, took me under their wings and, along with Coach (Karl) Dunbar, they taught me so much, whether it’s tape or stuff from the field. So, it’s been a blast working with them, that’s for sure.”

Saban admitted Ray, and even Allen, was forced into action because of the many of injuries to the Tide’s linebackers. Had it not been for that, the first-year duo would have likely redshirted.

But in hindsight, the in-game experience will benefit Ray as he takes on a larger role this fall.

Ray certainly showed flashes last season, and will be counted on as perhaps the first guy off the bench as a sophomore. He has added a solid 20 lbs. since arriving on campus and now weighs in at 280 on his 6’5” frame.

Saivion Smith seems to be excited about his opportunity.

Getting one on one instruction from Nick Saban is as good as it gets for a college athlete.

The Opening finals took place over the weekend in Texas and, of course, Alabama recruits got plenty of attention. Taulia Tagovailoa threw the ball further than anyone else, managing a whopping 66 yards.

Kid has a serious arm and loads of potential, but with his #8 finish didn’t quite have the same overall showing as brother Tua Tagovailoa, who took home the MVP award at last year’s event. The good news: when asked about his visit to Tennessee, he reaffirmed that he is 100% committed to Alabama.

Safety commit DeMarcco Hellams made a splash as well.

The signature play came from a player who was wearing a white wide receiver jersey. DeMarcco Hellams took reps on both sides of the ball but it was his pick-6 where he made an acrobatic play to jump a hitch route that drew a roar from the crowd and DB group. Hellams is a big, thick athlete who looks like a safety but showed a corner skill set. The Alabama commit is definitely an intriguing prospect with a nice upside on both sides of the ball.

“I picked Alabama because they have a tradition of producing great DBs -- that’s what I’m going there for -- and great players,” Hellams said. “They have a great culture down there, (with) accountability and guys holding themselves to a higher standard.

”Overall, it just stood out to me the school that we wanted me more and (it’s) the school that I felt more comfortable with that’s going to get me to the next level.”

Sounds like the young man is the total package, and will fit in well as a hybrid CB/S/LB that Saban has coveted in recent years. The staff is still hard at work in effort to pull an elite running mate for him.

A late summer timeline would certainly bode well for the Crimson Tide’s efforts if the nation’s No. 1 defensive back decides to make a commitment before taking the rest of his visits.

Defensive backs coach Karl Scott is working to land Hill. In fact, it’s Scott who the five-star prospect says is making the biggest effort for him.

“He’s probably one of the coolest guys I’ve talked to,” Hill said of the first-year Tide assistant who he talks to every day. “He’s new at Bama, so it was good seeing how he works things.”

Oklahoma has been the heavy favorite to keep Hill at home according to the 247 crystal ball, but BamaOnline’s Hank South remains steadfast in being the lone Alabama predictor. He thinks the Tide is in great shape here, and thus far Hill’s only official visit has been to Tuscaloosa.

Last, Mark Barron’s chronic shoulder issues have kept him out of football practice for a while now, but he is using his time effectively.

Barron’s football camp is the latest component in his charitable efforts back home, where he earned All-State recognition at St. Paul’sfor the Saints’ 2007 AHSAA Class 5A championship team. Barron has annually sponsored a turkey giveaway for Thanksgiving in Prichard.

In April, Barron held an NFL-style combine for local youngsters as part of the grand opening of D1 Sports Training, a facility at 3309 Old Shell Road (across the street from Dreamland Bar-B-Que) in Mobile that he co-owns with Alabama Orthopaedic Clinic.

It’s always good to see the guys come back home and contribute to the community.

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

Roll Tide.