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Jumbo Package: Spring practice kicks off today

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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NCAA Football: Alabama Spring Game-A-Day Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. The unbeaten Alabama softball team opens SEC play at home vs. Missouri tonight. The link provided has links to live streams for tonight and tomorrow, but Sunday’s game will be televised on SEC Network at 1pm CT. The Gym Tide will compete with Auburn in the Elevate the Stage event at the BJCC, and the baseball team will look to continue its strong start at home against Northern Kentucky. In a related note, I learned today that there is a college called Northern Kentucky.

Our own Bamapride would like to share that the United Way of Central Alabama has set up a special fund to help the tornado victims. You can donate here.

Spring practice kicks off today for a single session before the players leave on spring break, and there are wounds to lick.

If Alabama wasn’t sharp, why wasn’t it sharp? If injuries contributed, then how can Alabama overcome them (which they did miraculously in 2017)? If the constant departure of juniors leaves Alabama, year in and year out, with a dearth of senior leadership, where can the leadership come from? Players who haven’t played significantly? Coaches?

Spring practice will be, as always, interesting to watch for the position battles, and, this season, for the answers at backup quarterback? But there is more to watch, a more quiet effort to rebuild an attitude, more than just a roster.

Lots of eyes will certainly be on Mac Jones, Paul Tyson and Taulia Tagovailoa. Someone from that trio has to emerge in case Tua spends time on the shelf.

Matt Zenitz dropped some knowledge on us going into spring.

If they didn’t know already, NFL teams are now well aware that Henry Ruggs is really, really fast. Alabama had its junior pro day Wednesday and I’ve heard that NFL scouts timed Ruggs, who had 11 touchdown catches for the Tide last season, in the 4.25 range in the 40-yard dash. To put that into perspective, the NFL scouting combine record for the 40-yard dash is 4.22 and the fastest time posted at this year’s combine was 4.30. There were other players that ran fast, too. Biletnikoff Award winner Jerry Jeudy, safety Jared Mayden and a couple others were timed in the 4.4s in the 40.

I doubt that Henry will run an official 4.25 at the Combine, but he is a burner. Sark, you have been gifted the junior seasons of Tua Tagovailoa, Najee Harris, and three future NFL wideouts. Don’t screw it up, OK?

Mayden running in the 4.4 range at safety will make him a ton of money if he can show the ability to play in the box some this season. He has competition, though.

DeMatha Catholic (Md.) safety DeMarcco Hellams said it’s an easy explanation as to why so many high-profile players pick the Tide.

“The factory of producing great NFL players who have great NFL careers, the opportunity to be coached by the greatest coach in college football history and the opportunity to play in the toughest conference in the country,” Hellams said.

Hellams unfortunately couldn’t enroll early, but he’s one of those guys who committed before his senior season and never wavered or even took any visits elsewhere. Guys who do that tend to have strong careers with Saban. Hellams and classmate Jordan Battle should be a formidable tandem in coming years.

“A lot of them are recycled,” Fisher says. “ ‘Sark’ knows who (Saban) is. Sal knows who he is. Charles Kelly worked for me, OK? And he was with Jeremy, so he was in the same (philosophical system). … More than half or more are guys that understand (Saban).”

But it all adds up to a radically different staff. And it remains to be seen whether the constant coaching change has an adverse impact. Sarkisian will be the Crimson Tide’s fourth offensive coordinator in four seasons. Pete Golding, who was hired a year ago from Texas-San Antonio with a reputation as an aggressive young mind, moves up to defensive coordinator and becomes the Tide’s third in as many seasons.

Saban certainly went for familiarity this time.

Last, the men’s basketball team still has NCAA hopes.

UA is a combined 8-12 against Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2 teams, owning a 2-9 mark against Q1 opponents and a 6-3 record versus teams in Q2 this season. The Tide’s regular-season finale at Arkansas (Saturday, March 5, at 5 p.m. CT), counts as a Q1 game since the Razorbacks have a No. 73 in NET ranking and Q1 games include road games against teams in the top 75.

For those keeping score at home, this means that the Tide are 9-1 against Quadrant 3 and 4 teams. For all of the narrative around Johnson’s record against ranked teams and the strong performances against the top of the SEC, for the most part they have beaten the bad teams while losing to 60% of the better ones. This is what average teams do, and unfortunately that is precisely what they are.

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

Roll Tide.