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Jumbo Package: Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle draw superlatives as camp rolls on

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Mississippi v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. Saturday marked the first scrimmage of fall camp, and word has it that the defense looked much improved. Alabama released some highlights for you.

Matt Zenitz has the intel for you.

— Freshman wide receiver Javon Baker continues to impress. He had a catch that went for a big gain. There was also another freshman receiver with a big play. Thaiu Jones-Bell had a touchdown catch of around 60 yards against one of the reserve defensive units.


— Five-star freshman outside linebacker Will Anderson stood out and continues to look like someone capable of making an early impact, at the very least from a pass rushing standpoint. He had multiple sacks. There were also at least a few other outside linebackers with sacks, including reserve players such as Jarez Parks and Kevin Harris.

Baker is going to make some noise this year. Saban has mentioned Will Anderson and Drew Sanders as guys who are showing out, which is very encouraging, but he maintains that Ben Davis and Christopher Allen are playing well too. It wouldn’t suck to have a nice rotation of pass rushers to keep fresh legs going against spent tackles.

Saban seemed pleased overall.

“I think there’s been a bit of a transition psychologically for players, coaches and everyone else because it has been a long time and it’s not been normal and there has been a lot of uncertainty about what’s going to happen next that you kind of get in the mode that we’re practicing to practice, aight, which is a little bit different than practicing to play games and practicing to play against great competition. And I think we’ve been trying to get the players to transition into that.”

Has to be challenging. Bryce Young missed the scrimmage and a few practices. We assume it was COVID-related, but it will be a while if we know for certain, if ever. Saban and the players are also very pleased with the new S&C staff. As usual, I will embed the entire presser at the bottom.

Pro Football Network mentioned both of Alabama’s returning starters at WR in their superlatives piece.

Hands: DeVonta Smith, Alabama

Yet another elite Alabama wide receiver prospect. While the crown for the most athletic ‘Bama receiver is still up in the air, the argument for who has the best hands is not. The entire receiving unit recognized DeVonta Smith as the player with the top hands on the team, and frankly, it isn’t close.

Related | 2021 NFL Draft: Devonta Smith’s elite releases makes him a problem for opposing CBs

Smith sports a 2.9% drop rate on 118 career receptions, and also regularly makes difficult catches look easy. He’s also an above-average athlete and route runner, it’s easy to see why some draft pundits are so high on Smith for the 2021 draft class.

Waddle made it for speed, and then ESPN named him the most exciting player in America.

1. Jaylen Waddle, WR/PR, Alabama: Waddle gets the slight edge here because of his versatility as a specialist. Over the past two seasons, he has more punt return yards (720) than anyone and is tied for the most punt return touchdowns (two) in college football. When he has the ball in open space, look out. Just look at the way he exposed a top-shelf Auburn defense last season, going off for 230 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns (three receiving, one kickoff return). Waddle’s 12.3 yards after the catch average was best in the nation by a wide margin.

Best pair of WRs in the country? Absolutely. This squad is going to be fun to watch.

John Talty has some questions going into the season.

What happens with the Heisman Trophy?

The most prestigious individual award in college football has a tricky problem this season. Does the Heisman Trust focus on only the players who participate in the traditional fall season? That’d give the edge to players like Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and Alabama’s Mac Jones. Or does it wait for the Big Ten and Pac-12 to play their seasons so contenders like Justin Fields have a shot? The Heisman hasn’t made a decision yet, and there’s no easy answer. The Heisman is a significant event in December, so don’t be surprised to see it stick with that slot, eliminating the Big Ten and Pac-12 from consideration. That said, everything is seemingly on the table right now.

They’d better not wait for a maybe spring season. No, it isn’t the fault of those players, but it is what it is.

Bama commit Deontae Lawson had a decent performance this week.

Twenty-four tackles, folks. Sounds like an Alabama linebacker.

Auburn is dealing with some ‘Rona outbreak.

Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn says practice will resume this week without 16 players after 9 of them tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week.

“We had a pretty challenging week last week,” said Coach Malzahn during the Zoom press conference.

The Tigers had five positive COVID-19 tests last Sunday and four more tests came back positive during the week.

They took a few days off from practice and are ready to get back at it.

Mark Barron has landed in what should be a good spot.

The former Alabama All-American will sign a one-year contract with Denver, ESPN reported. The terms have not been disclosed.

The Broncos used Todd Davis and Alexander Johnson as their starters at inside linebacker last season, with Davis leading the team with 134 tackles and Johnson tying for second with 93.

But Davis hasn’t practiced since sustaining a calf injury on Aug. 20, and Denver’s depth at the position took a hit when fifth-round draft choice Justin Strnad suffered a season-ending wrist injury at training camp.

He should have a great opportunity to play a big role there.

Legendary Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson passed away.

RIP, Coach.

Last, Leonard Fournette was cut by Jacksonville and I couldn’t help a little trolling.

By the way, we talk a fair amount about how NFL teams draft, how they overvalue measurables, etc. For all of their scouting efforts, check out the top five picks from the 2017 NFL Draft.

Garrett has been as advertised when he isn’t ripping off someone’s helmet and beating him over the head with it, but there is a whole lot of bust in that group. Imagine taking one of those other guys instead of Jamal Adams, Christian McCaffrey, Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson. Amazing incompetence.

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

Roll Tide.