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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Henry To’o To’o looks to win starting role at Alabama with outstanding leadership

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Syndication: Tuscaloosa News Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Alabama will open at No. 1, claiming 63 of 65 first-place votes despite losing a lot of talent from last year’s title team. The voters clearly believe there are ready replacements to step in for the Crimson Tide, and Nick Saban has earned the benefit of the doubt with many voters thanks to his six national championships won in Tuscaloosa.

Ho-hum, another preseason poll, another #1 ranking for Alabama. While I fully expect the team to do their best to stay humble and earn their ranking, as a fan, I’m more than happy to bask in the fact that the entire national media has just given up on trying to rank Alabama lower.

But based on the early reviews of the former Tennessee standout, he has been as advertised in his first few practices in an Alabama uniform, as UA has completed three days of fall camp.

“I think he’s doing a really great job right now,” Harris said. “He came in, he’s working really hard, blending in really well with our linebacker room, with our defense as a whole. It’s only really the fourth day of camp, but I think he’s doing a great job learning and catching onto the plays and progressing. He’s just gotta keep taking it one day at a time.”

To’o To’o walked into an inside linebacker room that returned five players from last year’s team, including his top competition in senior Jaylen Moody, as well as a trio of freshmen. While there’s still plenty of football between now and the season opener against Miami on Sept. 4, it sounds like To’o To’o has made a strong first impression on his coaches and teammates.

“He’s been great,” outside linebacker Will Anderson said. “He communicates a lot. If you do something wrong, he’s gonna step on your toes about it. He’s a very great communicator. He knows the defense well, too. So just him being able to do that and being able to be on the field and help us and help the younger guys, he’s a great leader and a great player.”

As a long-time Jaylen Moody fan, I’ve been kinda torn on this whole To’o To’o thing. I REALLY wanted Moody to win a starting job this year. However, with as much as everyone is talking about To’o To’o and how much leadership he’s bringing, it’s hard to not be excited about the transfer’s potential this year. Now I just hope that Pete Golding finds a way to effectively use three different inside linebackers this year.

I guess that’s a good problem to have.

Junior Jordan Battle had the privilege of practicing against the elder Smith the past two seasons and knows the same nickname cannot be used twice.

“We try to shy away from calling him Smitty,” he said Tuesday, “Because you know there’s only one Smitty out there.”

Ohio’s Smith initially committed to Ohio State before flipping to Alabama. The Cincinnati native was ranked as a four-star prospect and No. 257 nationally in 247 Sports’ composite rankings.

Battle said it is a little weird having another DeVonta Smith around so quickly after the last one left, but teammate Christian Harris is getting used to it.

“I don’t really pay too much attention to it,” he said. “He’s a great guy though. I talked to him a little bit, but it’s not too much of a weird thing — you know, being that Smitty was here last year.”

Poor guy is going to have to deal with this for the next few years. I almost wish he’d win a starting job this year just so we can listen to Gary Danielson talk about him sharing a name with last year’s Heisman trophy winner all season long.

In hoops news, Alabama has added another new opponent to the already ridiculously stacked 2021-2022 schedule:

The Alabama men’s basketball team has added a true road game to its 2021-22 schedule.

The Crimson Tide will travel to Memphis, Tenn., on Tuesday, Dec. 14, to take on the Tigers at FedEx Forum, the University of Memphis announced Tuesday as it revealed its non-conference schedule. The game time and television channel will be designated at a later date.

“We’ve put together a challenging home schedule to start the season,” Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway said in a release. “These first couple of months will certainly help prepare our team for conference play, and we are excited to play in front of Tiger Nation at FedExForum.”

Memphis won the NIT last season, so they’re definitely a team that can bite.

On top of that, Alabama has added a fancy new invitational tournament to the 2022-2023 season:

Official matchups are still to be determined, but the 16 teams in the field are listed below:

North Carolina
West Virginia
Iowa State
Michigan State
Oregon State
Portland State

This is an absolutely loaded event, and will be a big boost for the Tide to right in the thick things for it.

The NFL transaction report for Monday showed the New York Giants had activated outside linebacker Ryan Anderson from the non-football-injury list, then terminated his contract.

On Tuesday, the Giants announced the former Daphne High School and Alabama standout was still with the team.

The turn of events involved in Anderson’s release and re-signing has been chalked up to a necessary contractual procedure.

Anderson had not been able to practice with the team at the Giants’ training camp while on NFI. Without that designation now, Anderson can get back on the field with his new teammates.

It’s preseason in the NFL, which means teams are doing all kinds of weird roster things. It was initially a surprise when Ryan Anderson was released from the Giants as he was expected to be a big rotational piece to a very unproven New York pass rush, but it turns out they were just gaming the system so that he didn’t have to wait a bunch of weeks to come off the injury list.

Dolphins co-offensive coordinator George Godsey recently spoke to the media to detail what is different with the 2021 version of Tagovailoa.

Godsey claims that his leadership, communication and play has improved. He mentioned there are still some corrections to be made before the start of the regular season, as well as some parts of the offense that may need to be tweaked.

He also stated that if changes need to be made to the playbook for Tagovailoa, they will work on it, stating that it’s a “working playbook.”

Finally, this is some coach-speak non-answers, but if the local Miami beat reporters are to be believed, Tua has been staggeringly good so far this camp. It’s amazing what actually having a preseason and a working hip can do. If he lives up to the Twitter hype I’ve seen the last few weeks, he’ll take the NFL by storm this year.