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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

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Tua Tagovailoa gets a more lucky jersey number

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Michigan vs Alabama Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the instant hits for stories from the NFL Draft are used up now, but here’s a brilliant piece from Kenneth Arthur for the Raider’s SBNation site about Henry Ruggs III (Also I am quoted in the article... score one for self-promotion!)

When I was scrolling down the list of 29 high school football recruits headed to play for Alabama in 2017, I found myself stopping in shock, amazement, and frankly, disgust, as I noticed at the bottom a name that only had two stars.

Thomas Fletcher.”

It made me wonder what was wrong with this obvious “freak” and “abnormality” to bring his two-star talents to Alabama. What does he think Alabama is? USC?! I first saw no stats for him at the college-reference site and assumed he must have walked off quicker than he walked on. Then I saw his page at the Alabama website.

“rated the No. 1 long snapper in the country by 247Sports and Scout”

Of course. Oh and yeah, he’s been a damn diamond over three years as the Crimson Tide’s longsnapper. Probably a 15-year player in the NFL.

And, hey, even the long snapper gets a shout out!

Tua makes his choice

So instead, Tagovailoa will start his own legacy with a jersey number carrying its own weight.

The Dolphins announced on Tuesday that Tagovailoa will wear No. 1. It’s a selection the carries with it a tremendous amount of confidence, a quality coveted in a quarterback.

If you care about this sort of thing and are looking to jump onto the #LifelongDolphinsFan bus, Tua picked out his NFL jersey, #1.

It’s gonna take some getting used to not seeing him in 13. Of course, swapping away from that number might help him out in the injury luck department. It can’t hurt*, at the very least.

*Ba Dum Tsssss

The Los Angeles Chargers have signed former Alabama running back Derrick Gore, the NFL team announced on Tuesday.

Gore spent one week on the Chargers’ practice squad and the final three weeks of the regular season on the Washington Redskins’ practice squad during 2019.

Obviously, NFL teams are just stacking the rosters right now for training camp fodder, but this does give Gore a chance to make his mark and get a little money.

Plus a running back with the last name of Gore that played for Alabama is bound to draw a little extra attention.

“I don’t think there’s anything holding them back,” he said. “If anything, I’d say it’s probably purposeful. If I can envision Nick Saban being in his staff room with his staff, and saying, ‘Guys, we can’t do anything right now, so let’s evaluate and re-evaluate and do more and more and more, and come out of the gate stronger.’

“I think most teams right now don’t feel like they’re getting behind because everybody is playing by the same rules. Everybody is stuck in their offices. Everybody can only watch film. There’s not much else you can do.

“So I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t something that is a little bit calculated with Nick Saban and his staff in terms of gathering intel. ... You can do more homework and the more homework you do, the more you’re gonna be right and the less you’re gonna miss.”

ESPN’s Tom Luginbill doesn’t seem too concerned about Alabama’s recruiting class.

I’m not concerned yet, but I do wish the Tide was a little ahead of where they are. December signing day comes quickly, and a lot of high school kids don’t really want to think about it during their senior football season.

Finally, here’s some extra-Gump material for you:

As a highly touted 5-star recruit, many were waiting for Alabama running back Najee Harris to finally break out and look like a star. But entering the 2019 season, that hadn’t happened. Frankly, it didn’t totally happen at the start of that campaign either. By the end of last season though, Harris looked like the ultra-athletic, super-physical and dominant force that everyone had been waiting to see.

Harris ended last season with 209 carries for 1,224 yards and 13 touchdowns while also adding 27 catches for 304 yards and seven touchdowns. Mind you, he put up those numbers as the Crimson Tide were heavily focused on utilizing the passing game as their primary option, speaking to how good Harris was. With Tua Tagovailoa gone now, he may play a bigger role and could be a Heisman dark horse as a result.

According to Fansided, six of the ten best players in the SEC are all Alabama players. DeVonta Smith, Najee Harris, Dylan Moses, Pat Surtain II, Alex Leatherwood, and Jaylen Waddle.

Of course, they also list LSU cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr. as the best overall player in the conference (above team mate and Biletnikoff winner Ja’Marr Chase) and put transfer QB Jamie Newman at #7... So take the whole thing for what it’s worth.

Roll Tide!