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Jumbo Package: Is Tua leaning toward a return?

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Vrbo Citrus Bowl - Michigan v Alabama Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. With the Citrus Bowl in the books, almost all of the focus in Tuscaloosa centers around recruiting and the decisions of several draft-eligible juniors. One name, of course, looms the largest, and Aaron Suttles says that those around the program are optimistic.

There is much optimism from within the Alabama football program and those around the program that the Tagovailoa family is heavily leaning toward returning. As I write this, I don’t 100 percent know anything one way or the other. But I do have a feeling after talking to many people about the subject, and that feeling is that he returns. But — and I can’t caution this enough — these things are always fluid.

The moment that he went down, I assumed that we had seen him play his last snap for Alabama. After watching his interview with ESPN and his behavior since then, however, it just seems that he isn’t ready to leave. We will see what he ultimately decides on Monday.

Brett Hudson has some nice stats for you.

– Alabama had six 200-yard receiving games in program history before 2019, but it had three this season. Jerry Jeudy going for 204 in the Citrus Bowl was the third, after DeVonta Smith went for 274 against Ole Miss and 213 against LSU. Jeudy also became just the third UA wide receiver to have two 1,000-yard receiving seasons, joining DJ Hall and Amari Cooper. His 1,163 yards this season (third in school history) give him 2,742 career receiving yards, which is fourth in school history, only 39 yards behind Calvin Ridley in third.

– The most penalized Alabama team of the Nick Saban era managed to fix that issue in its swan song, committing five penalties for 25 yards. It was just the second time this season UA did not allow a first down by penalty, the other being against New Mexico State in the second game of the season.

The note about three 200-yard receiving games is amazing. The penalties were definitely down in the Citrus Bowl, but I think that was largely a function of the zebras just not calling much of anything. Five procedural penalties is still too many.

Saban tries to behave himself on TV because of his grandchildren, but that didn’t work on Wednesday.

While Saban may be trying — and succeeding — at keeping his composure on the sideline, it didn’t show on New Year’s Day. During his team’s 35-16 win over Michigan in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl, something set Saban off and sent him into a rage. As his team was coming back to the sideline, Saban ripped off his headset with so much force that it broke. Perhaps Saban will get another talking to from one of his family members.

Miss Terry and those kids are going to dress him down, if they haven’t already.

There wasn’t much action for Alabama commits in the Under Armour game last night.

Five-star linebacker signee Chris Braswell recorded three tackles – two solos and one assist – and added a sack.

Wide receiver signee Thaiu Jones-Bell caught one pass for 5 yards. He was targeted three times.

Jayson Jones, an unsigned commit, recorded one tackle as a defensive lineman, while offensive line commit Damion George did not record any stats.

Three Alabama signees – running back Jase McClellan, 5-star linebacker Drew Sanders and Theodore linebacker Demouy Kennedy – were selected for the game, but opted not to play because of injury.

I am perfectly fine with those three names at the end staying as healthy as possible. Good to see Chris Braswell getting a sack, too. We’re expecting plenty of those out of him.

So, how bad was the ACC this year?

Trash, I tell you. Trash.

Brandon Kaho says that Harbaugh was not a happy camper after the game.

You have to root for a guy like Kaho. We don’t know what kind of demons he grappled with coming in, but his attitude seems to be stellar. Can’t get on the field at linebacker? Carve out a role as a goal line fullback and punt block specialist. Great stuff.

Last, Damien Harris thought he was staying home and signing with Kentucky until he didn’t.

Very interesting. Sometimes I think we underestimate just how difficult these decisions can be for teenagers. When you are older and looking back, it seems that they have it made no matter where they go, but they aren’t older and everyone around them is building up the next four years of their lives as the most critical choice they’ll ever make. In any case, we’re glad you chose ‘Bama, Damien.

That’s about it for today. We will have a staff predictions post on draft decisions later in the morning, plus recruiting updates from CB969 and balloons has his graphs ready as well. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.