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Jumbo Package: Can Nick Saban find his next group of starting wide receivers for Alabama this spring?

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Jermaine Burton is coming in to take up some of the slack, but the rest of the receiving room is wide open, they just have to catch the passes

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Georgia vs Alabama Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Actual news surrounding collegiate sports is a bit light right now, and, as your resident Seattle Seahawks fan, you’ll have to forgive me for a lack of inspired commentary today as I’m still broken on the inside following the release of future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner and the trade of QB Russell Wilson.

Anyway.

The Missouri-Ole Miss winner advances to play fifth-seeded LSU (21-10) on Thursday, while the Vandy-Georgia survivor continues against sixth-seeded Alabama (19-12).

With the Commodores win over the Bulldogs, Alabama doesn’t even get to enact revenge against the horrendous UGA team that beat them earlier this season. This game will be on SEC Network this evening, and we’ll have you covered throughout the day here on RBR.

In recruiting news, Alabama picked up the commitment of 2022 walk-on QB Cade Ott Carruth from Hewitt-Trussville:

The Tide always needs a guy or two like this on the roster to help out in practices, and it’s always nice to have a local kid. He was originally committed to Mississippi State as a preferred walk-on.

And while the top three players in the Top247 certainly deserve plenty of attention, the same can be said about the No. 4-ranked player in the class, five-star cornerback Cormani McClain.

McClain, who has picked off 19 passes the past two seasons at Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson, is viewed by most scouts as one of the most gifted corners to come out of the high school ranks in recent years. He’s a potential franchise player that can lock down one side of the field for three or four years before making his way to the NFL.

While McClain has no shortage of suitors, four schools seem to have the most traction with him coming out of February’s month-long dead period: Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Miami. Assuming that those four remain the main players in McClain’s recruitment (he has also talked up the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Oregon, BYU and FSU in the past), then the battle to land his signature is going to be pretty captivating as it will provide some answers about where things stand in one of the nation’s most talent-rich regions.

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If either Napier or Cristobal are able to beat out both Nick Saban and Kirby Smart for McClain in Year 1 of their tenure, it would signal a possible changing of the guard and send the message that the Sunshine State, which has helped fuel championship recent runs for both the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs, isn’t *quite* as open for business as it once was. That’s a big deal.

I do find it rather entertaining that the Florida “powerhouse” schools are now considered underdog programs to land top recruits in their own state, and I’m not sure a single five-star prospect will really signal a changing of the guard.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Projected starters: Ja’Corey Brooks, Jermaine Burton, Traeshon Holden

Top challengers: Agiye Hall, JoJo Earle, Aaron Anderson

Reserves: Thaiu Jones-Bell, Christian Leary, Kendrick Law

This one’s behind a paywall so I won’t include any of Charlie Potter’s commentary, but wide receiver is by far and away the most fascinating position for the Tide this offseason. After Alabama lost a national championship due to a dramatic fall in WR play after injuries to John Metchie and Jameson Williams, all three starting spots are 100% wide open to whoever steps up and performs this offseason.

I think transfer Jermaine Burton is pretty much a lock, as he brings SEC starting experience, size, athleticism, and talent.

Ja’Corey Brooks is also the most likely candidate for another starter, as he seemed to be the one young player last year immune to Saban’s public criticism of practice habits.

Past that? Traeshon Holden has the good friend reputation with Bryce Young, but has failed to really show much in the way of flashing.

My money is on freshman Aaron Anderson, for what it’s worth. The dude just has it.

One of his more unforgettable games came against Auburn. Alabama trailed 10-0 for the majority of the game, but Bama’s offense came alive in the fourth quarter.

Alabama cut the Auburn lead to just seven after making a 30-yard field goal with 8:44 left. Young and the Tide’s offense got the ball back on their own 3-yard line with 1:32 left. Young rushed for 12 yards and completed four passes for 85 yards on the drive, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Corey Brooks on 3rd-and-10. The Tide’s extra point sent the game into overtime.

This game ended up going to four overtimes. Young threw a touchdown pass in the first overtime period and found John Metchie III for both of Alabama’s 2-point conversions in the third and fourth OT. The last one gave Bama the win.

Most clutch? We’ll see, as Bryce still has a good bit of work to do when dealing with blitzes. But those final moments against Auburn were a thing of beauty. In case you needed something fun to watch in these offseason doldrums, here’s a replay of the whole thing:

Talk about clutch, how about safety Jordan Battle shrugging off a clear holding on the edge to chase down Auburn’s star RB Tank Bigsby and dragging him out of bounds, followed by Byron Young destroying the Auburn OL singlehandedly to get the ball back for the Tide?

You know all of those guys are coming back next year?

Roll Tide!