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Jumbo Package: Looking back at the 2016 recruiting class

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. Your undefeated softball team is at home this weekend for the Easton Crimson Classic, led by freshman phenom pitcher Montana Fouts. The 6’1” former national high school player of the year has allowed only three earned runs in 39 innings, with a stupendous ratio of 48 strikeouts against three walks. The baseball team is in Mobile to face South Alabama, and the Gym Tide hopes to snap its losing streak tonight as Auburn visits Coleman coliseum. That meet will be televised on SEC Network.

In football notes, SI looked back at the 2016 recruiting classes, and Alabama is still number one.

Major contributors: LB Mack Wilson, OT Jonah Williams, LB Terrell Lewis, DT Raekwon Davis, CB Trevon Diggs, CB Shyheim Carter, DT Quinnen Williams, QB Jalen Hurts, RB Josh Jacobs, TE Irv Smith.

It’s crazy to think now that Nick Saban was initially upset because the Tide “only” signed Davis and Quinnen Williams on the defensive line; Williams was the nation’s best defensive player in 2018. Jonah Williams was a three-year starter on the offensive line, and he’s a likely first-rounder in April. Jacobs came on late, but his versatility made Alabama’s offense even more dangerous. Smith, meanwhile, gave Alabama a supersized athlete catching passes. Hurts may be moving on to Oklahoma because Tua Tagovailoa is just that good, but Alabama went 25–2 in games Hurts started. And if you want to take that 25th away because Tagovailoa relieved him in the national title game against Georgia following the ’17 season, then feel free to add it back for Hurts bringing back the Tide after replacing an injured Tagovailoa in the ’18 SEC title game.

How does Andy not know that it’s twenty-six and two by now? This group was #1 overall at the time but wasn’t hyped like the 2017 class. Look at the names on that list, folks. Yes, Mack Wilson should probably have returned as a senior, but you’re looking at perhaps the top offensive lineman, defensive lineman, and running back in the April draft plus Irv Smith, who shouldn’t have to wait too long before hearing his name called. Lewis, Davis, Diggs, and Carter will be around to anchor a 2019 defense that should be stellar once again.

Speaking of the 2019 defense, what in the world has Ben Davis been eating?

Several Alabama players dropped and added weight over the past year. Linebacker Ben Davis was the biggest weight gainer, putting on 22 pounds from last year, while defensive lineman Christian Barmore put on 18 pounds. Linebacker Jarez Parks lost the most weight, down from 12 pounds last year and was followed by receiver Tyrell Shavers who dropped 11 pounds.

Ben is now up to 258 lbs. which essentially splits the difference between Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings. Perhaps he will work into the Jack rotation in 2019 and compete to start there in as a fifth-year senior in 2020.

Director of Player Personnel Kerry Stevenson has decided to go work for Jeremy Pruitt.

“Coach Pruitt came to me and wanted me to be his personal assistant, but he also wanted me to get in there and deal with the kids and help them become better players, people and help them with their day-to-day activities.”

Naturally, when the conversation revolves around both Alabama and Tennessee, comparisons are drawn, or at least there is an effort to.

“I know at Alabama, we definitely had some bigger kids, but, as far as talent, I know coach Pruitt did a heck of a job recruiting. The longer he’s here, the gap is going to close.”

No idea what prompted this move. Kerry is probably best remembered as the fellow who was attacked on the sideline by Mekhi Brown in the 2017 national title game.

Combine notes:

“Obviously, if there’s a running back that played four years and had 300 carries a year, you may do a little more work to make sure that guy is going to be durable enough to handle it for four or five years at this level,” said Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco. “But if a guy has the traits to play the position, whether they came out of a committee system or had a lot of carries, I don’t think it’s going to have a whole lot of weight.”

But for Harris, who is projected to be selected in the top two rounds, the arrangement he dealt with in Tuscaloosa has become a selling point he’s tried to convey to the teams interested enough to talk to him.

When reminded by a reporter he doesn’t have much tread on the tires, he smiled.

“A lot of people already knew that,” he said. “You already knew that.”

“Making the best out of everything in practice. Because he was like one of the best practice players we ever had,” Jacobs said. “He was just telling me, ‘Grind hard in practice, and it will pay off.’”

Henry was selected by the Titans in the second round of the 2015 draft. The former Heisman winner was coming off a junior year that saw him rush for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns on a whopping 395 carries.

Jacobs, who is viewed by many as the top running back in this year’s class, will enter the league in a much different fashion. Splitting time with Damien Harris and Najee Harris in a loaded backfield last season, Jacobs rushed for 640 yards and 11 touchdowns while hauling in 20 receptions for 247 yards and three more scores through the air.

They don’t come any more confident in front of a camera than Damien, who swatted away that stupid question like a fly swarming around his potato salad. Both backs will benefit in the draft from the lighter workload, as will Najee next season.

Ross Pierschbacher is selling his wares.

“I know what it is like to win,” he said. “I have seen what it takes to win. I played at the highest level at all three interior positions, and obviously at the offensive line position in the NFL you’re only going to carry seven or eight guys so you’re going to play multiple roles. So, I think that is a huge bonus for me.”

Pierschbacher began his career at left guard, later moonlighted on the right side and eventually moved to center before his final season of eligibility.

During that period, he started 57 games — a record for position players at Alabama. And it’s a number he quickly rattled off in front of reporters Thursday as he made the case for himself.

Proven ability to play center and make the line calls certainly increases his value. Ross seems like one of those guys who will probably play for multiple organizations over a solid ten year career.

Jonah Williams’ arms are apparently less than an inch shorter than “ideal.”

Williams offered the perfect answer to those questioning whether he will drop out of the first round because of his short arms.

“I think that’s a small portion of what it takes to be a tackle at the next level,” Williams said. “I think if you look at a lot of the really successful tackles over the past 10 years — Joe Thomas, Joe Staley, Jake Matthews, Jason Peters, La’el Collins, Riley Reiff, Ryan Ramczyk — just a couple guys off the top of my head that have shorter arms than me — I don’t think that’s necessarily a huge deal. I’m proud of the way I play. My approach to the game makes me a great player. So if my fingers were an eighth of an inch longer, I might be good enough? I think the way that I play is what defines me as a football player.

Great quip from another polished dude. The reason that they measure the arms of NFL linemen, especially tackles, is because they want them to be able to keep the edge rushers far enough away that they can’t get into the tackle’s body, which takes away the majority of pass rush moves including the dreaded bull rush. Still, Jonah’s arms aren’t that short at 33 5/8”. Tackles have been taken in the first round with measurements under 33, even if the ideal is 34.5” as McShay states.

Last, check out this hilarious clip of John Beilein.

Yeah, we all feel the same way when Harbaugh talks, John.

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

Roll Tide.