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Jumbo Package: Tide gains punting commitment, setting up critical three-way competition

And, hey! More rat poison for the Fightin’ Ostarines to lap up!

Drink up all that rat poison, fellas.

I for one am really happy Alabama players and coaches get to read actual headlines like this for next seven months: Will the Tide’s latest No. 1 class help them hang with Clemson?

The Tide had an all-blue-chip lineup of DBs and a dime package designed for matchup immunity against spread teams like Clemson and Oklahoma. They had size at corner with 6’2 Patrick Surtain II and 6’1 Saivion Smith.

But that wasn’t enough against Clemson’s big, skilled wideouts.

Ah, yes. The takeaway wasn’t that offense moved the ball at will, or that the implosions happened on third downs, or that seven coaches were on their way out for other jobs, or that many were relative n00bs, or that Q and Buggs were both hurt, that the secondary — already thin, was a MASH unit by early January. Nope. Dynasty’s over. Not a chance. Can Alabama hang with Clemson.

I get paid to write some dumb shit. But even I try to avoid grotesque overgeneralizations from a one-off bad night — the first start-to-finish bad one we’ve seen in a dozen years. The real takeaway here is that we should have seen a few more of these in the last decade-plus, not the N of 1 here.

In any event, that loss was a coaching failure and a failure of execution; not a failure of talent, where Alabama was more talented at nearly every position.

And Nick Saban blames himself:

He said as much in the moments following his biggest loss as Alabama’s coach last month -- a four-touchdown beat down by Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

The result and response seemed to signal something more urgent than the typical, “We’ll get ‘em next year.” There seemed to be genuine concern.

”I just have a feeling that I didn’t do a very good job for our team, with our team, giving them the best opportunity to be successful,” Saban said in the moments following that 44-16 loss. “I always feel that way, even sometimes when we win. I think there’s things we could do better or that I could have done better. But in this particular case, [I] never really ever got comfortable with what we needed to do to win this game.”

NSD is over, but ‘Bama has added another one, preferred walk-on punter Jack Martin:

Nick Saban stopped by McGill-Toolen in Mobile, Ala. on Jan. 23 and watched film of Martin. The now Tide pledge was on a senior retreat that day, but Saban told Yellowjackets head coach Earnest Hill that he was interested.

A few weeks later, Martin got a call from special teams coach Jeff Banks giving him the good news that Alabama wanted him. Martin was actually at a Mardis Gras parade and had to step into Pollman’s Bakery so that he could talk on the phone.

Per the Chris Sailer Kicking Academy, Martin is a solid D-1 prospect coming in at 6’0” 175, one that is improving annually — and has the potential to be special with more development:

Jack is a very talented high school punting prospect. He is great looking athlete with a powerful leg. The lefty has the ability to hit a big ball and his consistency continues to improve each time we see him. With continued hard work, he will be a special college player. Look for Jack to have a big 2018 season and turn the heads of college coaches. I look forward to seeing what the future holds. One to keep a close eye on. Strong prospect.

Martin won the Georgia Sailer Kicking Camp in Summer 2018.

For Martin, he joins Mike Bernier and Skyler DeLong for a critical three-way race. Bernier is the incumbent; DeLong has the raw physical skills — and both have had the benefit of being in the program. Martin is not even an EE; he won’t walk-on until August.

Keep an eye on this one.

The combine begins today, and yes — degenerate gamblers — there are prop bets to be had on the performances:

Josh Jacobs 40-yard dash time
Over 4.50
Under 4.50

Josh Jacobs bench press reps
Over 23.5
Under 23.5

But, keep your wallet in your pocket for Jacobs.

Both he and Deionte Thompson are injured: for Jacobs, it is a mild groin injury that will limit him in some drills. And, for Thompson, it is a torn wrist injury. He had surgery Friday, and won’t participate at all. In fact, he’ll be on blocks for 6-8 weeks. And, as you know, lacking hands is somewhat of a deficit for a DB — or maybe not. =Kecalf Bailey played four years with bricks for hands.

We’ll have more on basketball later today — the Tide travels to face a bear of a team; Frank Martin’s South Carolina Gamecocks, who are presently fourth in the SEC.

The Tide looked better (intermittently) on Saturday against Vanderbilt playing with a shorter bench. But, that means that the eight-man rotation has to log a lot of minutes, especially Kira Lewis:

“Leading into this game, our practices (Sunday and Monday) are two of the shortest of the year,” said Alabama Coach Avery Johnson. “It was time.”

He said that “a lot of the waste” in practices – certain drills – had been eliminated and that practice time for these two would be about 75 minutes as opposed to normal workouts of about 140 minutes.

“We don’t slide into practice,” he said. “We’re starting fast and hope that gives us some energy.”

Additional rest included freshman point guard Kira Lewis, Jr., being given an extra day off before the Tide’s last game

We’ll see what impact the injuries to Jacobs, Thompson have. If GMs aren’t deterred, Alabama could tie a remarkable feat:

Alabama has six players who are in the first rounds of various mock drafts: Defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, offensive tackle Jonah Williams, running back Josh Jacobs, safety Deionte Thompson, tight end Irv Smith Jr. and linebacker Mack Wilson.

Saying that six Alabama players “could” go in the first round is a far cry from saying they “will” go in the first round, but the mere fact that it’s possible is another indication of just what an incredible collection of talent Nick Saban has collected

Not to jump waaaaay ahead of ourselves here or anything, but I’m ready to mentally add Montana Fouts as the most recent in a long line dominant Alabama softball pitchers:

For the second-consecutive week, Alabama pitcher Montana Fouts has been named the SEC Softball Freshman of the Week, it was announced Monday.

The Grayson, Ky., native earned a pair of wins over 24th-ranked Minnesota at last weekend’s Easton Bama Bash in Tuscaloosa, holding the Gophers to two runs over 12.0 innings pitched with 15 strikeouts. Her complete-game shutout on Friday marked the first shutout loss of the season for Minnesota. She earned her second win in a rain-shortened contest on Saturday, fanning seven over five innings before the game was called.

Fouts is now 6-0 this season, including three wins over ranked opponents, with a 0.54 ERA and 48 strikeouts over 39.0 innings.

Following Jackie Traina, we had Alexis Osorio, and now Fouts — that’s a remarkable run of sub-1.000 pitching prowess. They’re by no means the only ones either. That’s just a random snapshot of recent stars at a program that has always won with pitching.