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Jumbo Package: Nick Saban comments on transfer portal as Tide prep for Sugar Bowl

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. Most of the weekend’s news involves the transfer portal, and Nick Saban was asked about it during his press conference following Friday’s bowl practice.

“Look players leave. You have the opportunity to recruit other players, so you have two sources of getting players. You can get players out of the portal if you find somebody that you think is going to be a positive addition to your team. Or you recruit young players that you think are going to develop and be a positive addition to your team. I think being able to do this now, you can’t replace anybody now, so you’ve just got to play with what you’ve got. There’s quite a few teams that are playing bowl games that have a significant number of guys that have gotten in the portal. We’re working hard to help these guys that are here with us to develop the future and create value for their future regardless of what their circumstance is.

“But the portal is the portal. So you can’t get somebody out of the portal to come play in this game. So how do you create depth out of the portal right now? You can’t do it. You do it later, and you can replace whoever leaves. And that’s the numbers you have to work with, and you’ve got to make good choices and decisions with who you recruit and how they’re going to fit on the team.”

Alabama has lost quite a few to the portal, but since none of the potential NFL draftees opted out, there shouldn’t be much impact on this game. JoJo Earle and Javion Cohen are the only two who left that had made any sort of meaningful game day contribution this season.

Saban was also very complimentary of Kansas State, as you’d expect, and is very proud of the fact that all of the top players decided to play in the game. He also said that he likes the attitude that the team showed at practice. You can watch the entire presser below.

We learned where a couple of the WR transfers are going to land.

Receiver JoJo Earle committed to TCU, On3 reported. He is the sixth of the 13 Alabama portal players to find a new school. The Aledo, Texas product played two seasons in Tuscaloosa before entering the portal on Dec. 5.

Earle was one of four Crimson Tide receivers to exit the program and the third to commit to a new program. Traeshon Holden is headed to Oregon while Christian Leary is going to UCF.

Anderson announced Sunday he is transferring to LSU after entering the transfer portal Dec. 12. Anderson was once committed to the Tigers before flipping to and signing with the UA. He is the second Crimson Tide player to transfer within the SEC (Tanner Bowles, Kentucky).

Anderson, a true freshman, missed most of the season with a knee injury he suffered in the offseason. He made his collegiate debut against Austin Peay but did not record any stats. Anderson joined the Crimson Tide in January as an early enrollee and went through spring drills and the A-Day Game, where he caught two passes for 11 yards for the White offense.

Anderson is likely the biggest loss. While completely speculative, my guess is that Jermaine Burton’s decision to return was likely a big factor. Hopefully, Malik Benson is another. On3 analyst Charles Power says that Benson has a case as the best JUCO WR in years.

He was an elite track athlete at Lansing (Kan.) High, posting a 10.44 second 100 meter mark (with several more below 10.6 seconds) as a senior in 2021. He broke Olympian Maurice Green’s meet record in the 200 meters with a 21.38 second time. Benson’s best event may be the long jump, where he posted a personal best leap of over 25 feet – an elite mark.

That complete and stellar track profile is paired with solid for the position. Benson measured around 6-feet, 185 pounds in the summer. He sports a 32.75-inch arm and 6-foot-5 wing-span, giving him length that would register over the 70th percentile among NFL wide receivers.

Most importantly, the athleticism and length transfer over to the field, where Benson looks like the top recruitable deep threat in the 2023 cycle. He blows by opposing corners with regularity. The burst and unbothered stride in the open field allow him to simply move at a different speed in what is the most competitive and talented junior college conference nationally.

Benson also got an endorsement from Bo Scarbrough, who has been a vocal critic of some of the attitudes on the 2022 team.

Benson will be one to watch at A-Day, as he plans to enroll in January.

Reebok must think that Isaiah Bond will be a key player for the Tide in the future.

It wouldn’t surprise anyone if the speedster became a bigger contributor. He showed flashes this season and is one of the fastest players in college football. No idea how his Reebok deal works with Alabama’s Nike deal, though.

Alabama lost a three-star OT commit. Could it be that Kadyn Proctor is about to come on down?

Apple Valley (Calif.) three-star offensive tackle Raymond Pulido has flipped to Arizona from Alabama. The news was first reported by Andrew Bone of BamaInsider.

“We talked as a family,” Pulido’s father told Bone. “He is grateful for the Alabama experience, but the West Coast felt more like a better fit.”

Pulido is the No. 410 overall prospect and No. 24 offensive tackle in the 2023 cycle, according to the On3 Consensus, a complete and equally weighted industry-generated average that utilizes all four major recruiting media companies. He is also the No. 32 player in California.

The basketball team’s defense since Nimari Burnett went down has not been good, to say the least. Nate Oats says that they are just going to have to find a way to adapt and deal with it.

So, the question now is — were the last two games just a situation where two of the country’s top players had career games? Or is this going to be a lasting, ailing problem?

If the Crimson Tide is going to be without Burnett for almost two months, something is going to have to change — and fast. SEC play begins on Dec. 28 with a trip to Starkville to take on the 17th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs.

“It definitely hurt us not having [Burnett], but we’re not gonna have him for a while, so we’ve got to figure it out,” Oats said.

The Tide will have one last tune-up game tomorrow night vs. Jackson State.

Last, in NFL news, Najee Harris continues his late season renaissance. His foot must have been the issue early in the year, because he’s back to his old explosive ways.

Not much left to say about Jalen Hurts at this point. The Eagles still have only one loss on the season, and check out this dime to DeVonta.

Jalen threw for 315 yards on the day, and added 68 on the ground with three touchdowns. The Slim Reaper got 126 of those yards.

Derrick Henry is developing as a receiver, which should be terrifying for NFL defenses.

King Henry managed 165 scrimmage yards with a TD.

In other games, Josh Jacobs got 110 yards, Jaylen Waddle caught 114 of Tua Tagovailoa’s 234 yards, and Brian Robinson piled up 107 scrimmage yards, Unfortunately all but Jacobs’ came in losing efforts. That Raiders game ended on one of the wildest plays you will ever see, and poor Mac Jones may never live down his part.

It was an awful day for Mac, as he completed only 41% of his passes for 112 yards. An offseason divorce of he and the Pats seems rather inevitable at this point.

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

Roll Tide.