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Jumbo Package: Optimism abounds as the season draws near

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: SEC Media Day Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. Fall camp is a wonderful time for college football fandom, as optimism abounds:

Georgia thinks they may have Kirby’s best team yet...

Michigan has plans for the playoff...

Ohio State believes they have a Heisman candidate in Justin Fields...

Oklahoma fans are similarly high on Jalen Hurts...

...and there is no exception in Tuscaloosa, as the fan base seems to be encouraged by the team thus far.

— With Josh McMillon injured, freshman Christian Harris has emerged as the clear leader in the competition for the inside linebacker spot next to Dylan Moses. Like Moses, Harris played at University Lab High School in Baton Rouge. And like Moses, the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Harris has big-time athleticism, enough so that he was a cornerback, slot receiver and kick returner in high school. Harris got the start at that second inside linebacker position on Saturday, got the majority of the first-team reps there and had a big hit at one point during the scrimmage. “There’s still competition at that position,” Saban said, “but he’s a guy that has made plays throughout fall camp so far that we’re hopeful will be able to continue to improve and develop and play like a starter.”

— Freshman kicker Will Reichard was again on point on field goals. After going 4 for 4 on field goals in the team’s first scrimmage, word is Reichard had at least a few makes on Saturday while only missing once, which was on a longer attempt of about 50 yards.

There is, of course, the “one play away” scenario that no one wants to see. There is also the recent history of last season, when Alabama got off to big early leads in many games. Whether Jones will see the sort of backup time Jalen Hurts saw last year is going to depend on many week-to-week variables, although he seems sure to get at least some duty with a mop. Isn’t that what “mopping up” requires?

There is also a human tendency (not one Saban especially likes) to project into the future. Assuming, as all of America does, that Tua goes pro after this season, the first questions about 2020 are going to center around the next quarterback, Jones or someone else. So people are going to watch for clues.

So, if Christopher Allen gets some reps with Dylan Moses and Christian Harris, the Tide will have three Baton Rouge LBs on the field together. That needs to happen a few times during the LSU game. As you already know, the buzz centered around Harris, but Reichard has put together a strong spring. Playing at Hoover, he certainly got to play in some big games at the high school level. While that hardly compares to the SEC, perhaps he will be better equipped to handle the pressure early in his career.

As far as Mac being way ahead, that is to be expected. I’m still not sure that he will be the best backup by the end of the season, though.

If you subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, you can read this piece about Saban’s handling of assistant coaches. I do not and have not. Let us know what it says.

There are 14 football players who have transferred from Alabama and still have eligibility.

B.J. Emmons, RB -- Florida Atlantic

After taking the year off from football in 2018, Emmons returns to the field for this fall for the Owls. After leaving the Tide program following his freshman season in 2016, Emmons played at Hutchison Community College in Kansas before signing with Florida Atlantic.

It will be interesting to see what Lane Kiffin can do with the former #1 RB prospect.

In more somber news, former Texas great RB Cedric Benson was killed in a motorcycle accident at only 36 years of age. RIP.

In NFL news, Irv Smith Jr. and Damien Harris made some highlights.

Both guys have a chance to carve out significant roles right away.

Basketball got some good news.

I’m very excited to see Rojas.

Last, speaking of that retreat...

Coach Oats and the team, including all coaches, participated in a boot camp run by a former Navy SEAL. He is instilling a new mentality in the basketball program, folks.

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

Roll Tide.