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Jumbo Package: Saban expects De punts to be Long this season

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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

Happy Good Friday, everyone. It’s going to be a challenging weekend on the diamond, as the #5 softball team travels to #6 Florida, while baseball hosts #5 Vanderbilt.

On the gridiron, sophomore punter Skyler DeLong was among the most improved players this spring.

Following his demotion, many wrote off DeLong’s future at Alabama. Reichard, who came to Tuscaloosa as one of the most celebrated kicking prospects in years, also punted in high school and was heralded as a potential do-it-all man for the Crimson Tide. However, when both players shared punting duties over the weekend, it was DeLong who demonstrated the slightly more powerful leg.

“People should believe in development,” Saban said. “Everybody wants an immediate outcome instead of focusing on what you need to do to get an outcome.”

Hopefully DeLong will be effective on very, very few chances this season.

It’s looking like a busy first round for the Bama boys. This analyst is high on several, but his comments about Jonah Williams are interesting.

“He’s played right tackle. He’s played left tackle. I believe he can kick inside. That’s personally where I think he’s going to end up. I think he’s going to be a very good player in there. But when you consider the number of snaps, the level of competition, the way he’s come across in interviews with teams around the league, I’ve heard some very impressive (things). To me, he’s the high floor guy. ... He doesn’t have that type of size or elite athleticism that I would put the ceiling really high, but I think he’s got a chance to be a real solid player, maybe could even be a Pro Bowl player on the inside in my opinion.”

This comment is noteworthy because Saban wanted Jonah to play center last season, both to help the team and also to learn the position since he will likely be playing inside when he gets to the league, but backed off when Jonah said he’d transfer rather than switch positions. It seems to be common knowledge at this point that the coaching staff wanted the offensive line to be configured very differently last season. According to Christopher Walsh it was to be, from left to right: Alex Leatherwood, Ross Pierschbacher, Jonah Williams, Matt Womack or Lester Cotton, and Jedrick Wills.

Jonah’s refusal to switch positions triggered a “Plan B” that had Williams, Pierschbacher, Cotton, and Leatherwood playing somewhat out of position. Cotton in particular graded out worse on the left side than he had on the right and ended up losing his job, and Pierschbacher was tried out at center previously but deemed better at that left guard spot. It’s tough to quibble too much with the overall performance of the line last season, but it will be interesting to see if they perform better this season with guys playing in their natural spots. And, as usual, the NFL guys are seeing the same thing that Saban saw in Jonah: a potential elite interior lineman. Saban spoke after the Clemson game about a few guys putting their own self-interests first, and this situation was probably near the top of the list.

An important Alabama commitment has switched coasts.

Alabama wide receiver commit Traeshon Holden has transferred from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore Md. to Narbonne High School in Harbor City, Calif., he tells BamaOnLine.

The four-star receiver, originally from Florida, has been a member of the Crimson Tide’s class since early March and will now join forces with a pair of UA targets in 2020 four-star linebacker Jordan Banks and 2021 four-star quarterback Jake Garcia at Narbonne.

That’s a long move, Mr. Holden. Now get to recruiting.

Guess who has the best playoff odds this season?

1. Clemson

Playoff: 83 percent

Win championship: 36 percent

It doesn’t seem like changes in personnel — particularly on defense with the Tigers losing Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell — are having any real impact on this team’s shot at the playoff. With quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Dabo Swinney’s dynasty in the making, it seems like something would have to go catastrophically wrong for the Tigers not to make the playoff.

Clemson is at 83 percent because the rest of the ACC is trash. The Tigers’ two toughest tests will likely be their SEC non-conference games at home vs. Texas A&M and at South Carolina. Alabama is just behind at 71 percent, and nobody else has a 50/50 shot.

Last, if you’re into that sort of thing, Hannah B is going to bring the Gump to The Bachelorette in May.

Six days before The Bachelor finale, NZK Productions signed an agreement with the university to allow the show to film on campus. Agreed upon locations included the football stadium, both inside and outside, and the brick Walk of Champions (which commemorates all of the program’s championships), among others.

The shoot was scheduled for March 8, four days before Hannah B.’s official announcement as the next Bachelorette.

Reports that she used the midfield logo as this season’s “fantasy suite” are unconfirmed.

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

Roll Tide.