It’s strange how one game changed everything for an Alabama team that was previously undefeated and considered by many to be among the best of all time.
But give credit to Clemson. It not only dominated Alabama in the national championship game, it changed the entire narrative about the Crimson Tide’s season in the process. Suddenly quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was a mere mortal, the defense was an undisciplined mess and the coaching staff appeared in desperate need of reconstruction.
Then a school-record seven underclassmen declared for the NFL draft.
Then seemingly every assistant coach on the staff up and left.
Nick Saban remains, as do Alabama’s championship aspirations, but the tone of the offseason was set in the aftermath of its lopsided loss to Clemson. It’s one of upheaval. There’s obvious talent remaining in Tuscaloosa, but also obvious turmoil.
I highlighted this opening couple of paragraphs from a larger ESPN article because it so neatly sums up the last month. In the space of one game, we went from believing the 2018 Alabama squad was one of the best we’ve ever seen to “THE SKY IS FALLING AND EVERYTHING ABOUT ALABAMA IS FAILING!!!”
Overall, this is a good piece previewing the upcoming 2019 team.
Jennings and Lewis are two of four seniors on this list, and like Hurts, they joined Scott Cochran on the leadership retreat to Bradenton, Fla., last year. Jennings is widely respected within the Crimson Tide’s locker room, and Lewis is nearly unanimously considered one of the top freak athletes on the team. Both outside linebackers should be 100-percent healthy by the time the season starts in September, and their presence on the field and in the huddle will be crucial.
Here, 247 takes a shot at guessing who the Tide’s team captains will be next fall. I think Anfernee Jennings is about as sure of a bet as you can get. A 5th year senior and multi-year starter? I’ll bet he gets a hand print. Shyheim Carter is probably a good guess as well. Who are your 2019 team captain predictions?
Charles Huff, associate head coach/running backs: Huff spent one season at Mississippi State and four at Penn State, where he had the pleasure of coaching Saquon Barkley for all three seasons of his college career. The Crimson Tide’s depth in the backfield should be a similar luxury.
Holmon Wiggins, wide receivers: Wiggins, who was rumored to be up for a coordinator spot at Temple, spent three seasons on Justin Fuente’s staff at Virginia Tech. Wiggins has a load of talent at his disposal as the Crimson Tide return their top three receivers from 2018.
We’ve talked a lot about the new assistant coaches around here over the last month as the news has unofficially rolled in. Sports Illustrated has a nice, concise piece here with some quick background with every single assistant coach on Alabama’s 2019 team.
I’m most excited about Brian Baker coming over from Mississippi State to coach defensive line and Sal Sunseri coming back to coach the outside linebackers.
Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is the favorite at 3.5/1, followed by Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa at 5/1.
At 6.5/1, right behind Tagovailoa, is Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, who backed up Tagovailoa at Alabama before transferring.
So, with the Tagovailoa-Hurts dynamic, it begs the question, who do you think has the better chance, today, of winning the Heisman Trophy?
Oh man, the media coverage of this is gonna be nauseating for the next year.
Julian Fleming, 5-star WR, Catawissa (Pa.) Southern Columbia
Fleming released his top six schools on Saturday night with Alabama making the cut. The nation’s No. 1 wide receiver has long considered the Tide a top choice despite his 247Sports Crystal Ball reading 82 percent in favor of Penn State. One advantage for Alabama is the Tide landed a preferred walk-on commitment from Fleming’s quarterback Stone Hollenbach — just one more person in his ear about UA.
Some more 2020 recruiting names to familiarize yourself with. Fleming is likely to have a highly publicized recruiting season, and Alabama will be looking to land Bryan Bresee out of Maryland to continue the pipeline that the Tide has established out of that area in the past few years.
“(Quinnen) Williams just had a phenomenal year,” Kiper said. “I love the way he destroys double teams. I love his hustle and the way he pursues. I think No. 3 to the Jets, he could go anywhere in that top group. I think when you look at Jonah Williams, is he going to be a right tackle -- he’s not going to be a left tackle but a right tackle, guard, center. That’s why I put him at No. 18 and not in the top 10 because I think he’s an interior guy now.
“Josh Jacobs had that one year where it was the finish to the year, midway through and finishing the way he did. Really his attempts, his carries for his career and his rushing yards for his career are basically like one season for a lot of running backs, which means he’s got a lot of tread left on the tires. He hasn’t been beaten up. He waited his turn.
“When you compare Devin Singletary of Florida Atlantic to Josh Jacobs, it’s amazing the career differential of those two. It was 463 carry differential for a career between Devin Singletary and Josh Jacobs, which means he’s going to come in very fresh and hasn’t been taking the punishment as some of these other backs.”
Some more bloviating from the NFL draft media— it’s the most ridiculous part of football offseasons aside from college recruiting.
If an NFL team thinks Jonah Williams isn’t a left tackle, then they’re making a mistake. I’ll leave it at that.
That’s it for today, Roll Tide!