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Jumbo Package: Antonio Alfano officially in the portal and off the roster

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Alabama Spring Game Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Happy Thursday, everyone. As Alabama preps for Tennessee, we have learned that the Antonio Alfano chapter has officially come to a close.

Alabama defensive lineman Antonio Alfano, the No. 5 overall player in the Class of 2019 and top-ranked player in the Crimson Tide’s most recent recruiting class, has entered the transfer portal, according to 247Sports. Alfano was seen missing from the Crimson Tide’s online roster earlier Wednesday.

Best of luck to Antonio, whatever his issues may be.

The key practice note:

Markail Benton was the lone linebacker in Alabama’s Dime package when it went to 7-on-7 periods in Wednesday’s practice. Shane Lee and Christian Harris also got reps in pass packages, but with the starting Dime group, Benton was the choice.

This is a major development following Benton’s start against Texas A&M. It seems that he has earned the staff’s trust enough to get an opportunity. Shane Lee has been playing this role, but he is built more like a classic run-stuffing Mike and really doesn’t have the pure speed to get to the edge as the lone LB on the field. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

We have no idea who will be starting at QB for Tennessee.

Redshirt junior Jarrett Guarantano, who Maurer replaced as Tennessee’s starting quarterback against Georgia, likely would be the starter if Maurer doesn’t clear the concussion protocol in time to play against Alabama, and Maurer’s potential absence means redshirt freshman J.T. Shrout could be the backup quarterback for the Vols.

(SPOILER: It won’t matter who starts.)

Cecil is putting it out there.

Why do Alabama players regard this as a rivalry, not because they’ve been in a close game with Tennessee (unless they are fifth-year seniors), but because Nick Saban tells them so?

“Coach, he explained to us yesterday that this game right here means a lot to everybody because they’ve been around for a long time and we’ve been playing them for a long time,” defensive lineman Raekwon Davis said at Alabama’s Tuesday interview session. “So he holds us to a standard for this team.”

It’s very one-sided Cecil, and seems to be getting worse.

Pete Golding has caught some flack in the comments, and Saban answered a question about him in yesterday’s press conference.

-- Saban said Pete Golding’s job with the middle linebackers without Dylan Moses going out for the year. It’s like losing a coach or mentor on the field.

-- Saban also said Golding has “maybe more patience than I do with how he teaches.”

-- On Ale Kaho on special teams: Saban said he’s a really good competitor. Gives great effort in all he does. “Some guys don’t see the value” in special teams but that’s the opposite of the case for Kaho.

Kaho has certainly carved out a role for himself, even if he has not been able to find one on defense. On Golding, read what you will into Saban’s comments. It sounds like Golding is more teacher than drill sergeant.

Saban was asked about Butch’s contributions.

“Most of the stuff (Jones does) is behind the scenes,” Saban said Wednesday. “Film study, doing administrative-type work. He always does a, ‘What do we need to do on offense?’ for me, in his opinion, in terms of improving, based on film study and things like that. His role has always sort of been that.

“He’s done a really, really good job of it. He’s a great person and a great guy to have in your organization.”

Keeps that car full too, eh Nick?

Christopher Walsh is wondering why some folks are saying negative stuff about Tua.

The rhetoric includes things like his wide receivers are making Tagovailoa look good. He’s holding on to the ball too much. His numbers aren’t as good when he plays tougher defenses.

Tagovailoa took exception to one in particular and commented on it after the Texas A&M victory, that Alabama’s quick slant routes are cheap completions.

“We don’t practice slants every time,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s just that’s what the defense gives us. If people say, ‘They’ve got to stop running this. It’s weak that they’re running this.’ I mean, stop it. Then stop it.”

I didn’t know they were, to be honest.

Hey, Nick has a financial incentive to get guys to graduate.

Per Steve Berkowitz of USA TODAY, Saban recently earned a $100,000 bonus for Alabama football’s new graduation success rate of 84.6 percent. Per Berkowitz, Saban’s contract warrants the bonus if his team’s graduation success rate ranks within the top four in the SEC, and that latest mark puts the Crimson Tide third in the conference.

Of course, Saban finds $100k in his couch cushions.

Fantastic podcast and piece here on Tyrone Prothro.

Focusing on his studies was not his strong suit. And as he looks back today, Prothro told the Huts And Nuts podcast that it was a man named Nick Saban who came to his rescue. Yes, the same coach for whom Prothro never played, the same coach who was forced to officially take Prothro off the Bama roster on August 3, 2007.

Said Prothro on the podcast, “My grades were falling and I was in the dumps. I had a meeting with Coach Saban and he told me that the best thing I could do was to get my degree. He then chewed me out in a second meeting and he helped me realize that it was the best thing I could do for myself.”

Have a listen to a guy who has become a local hero, more for his resolve off the field than his superior play on it.

Last, our friends at Breaking T have come out with a new shirt they are calling “Just say no to rat poison,” shown below. If you like, you can get yours HERE.

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Very nice.

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

Roll Tide.