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Jumbo Package: Spring practice kicks off today

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Orange Bowl practice Carl Juste/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. Softball is in Baton Rouge this weekend to open SEC play against LSU, starting with a doubleheader tomorrow at 1pm. All games will be streamable on the ESPN app, and the second game of the doubleheader is slated for SEC Network. Baseball host Binghamton, and all three games will be online only, also on ESPN app. The Gym Tide have the weekend off in preparation for next weekend’s SEC Championships.

Of course, basketball has the weekend off now, too.

“Before the game, one of the Bama coaches said that you asked for it, so you’re going to get it or something like that,” Pippen said afterward, “so it’s kind of good to get back at him and get the win.”

Oats entered the postgame news conference room moments after the Vanderbilt delegation departed.

“I didn’t know anything about that,” Oats said when asked about the possibility of a staffer saying something to Pippen. “Probably not something we want our assistants doing is talking to the other players before the game. That’s probably not the smartest thing to be doing, so address that afterwards here. I didn’t know anything about that.”

Whatever.

Hey, spring practice starts today, so that’s something.

Alabama’s depth was tested last season after injuries to McClellan, Williams and then-freshman Camar Wheaton — who has since entered the transfer portal and not yet announced a new team. But the addition of Gibbs, who played the last two seasons at Georgia Tech, and the pair of freshman in Henderson, a five-star recruit from Geneva County, and Miller bolster the numbers here. The question is whether Gibbs assumes the lead role that Robinson had last season, if someone else does, or if there is more of a balance in carries among the top four experienced options.

The running back position will be one of the most intriguing this spring. Everyone wants the first look at Gibbs in Crimson, and it’s likely that we will see a lot of him this spring as McClellan and Williams continue to heal.

ESPN’s David Hale has Gibbs down as a breakout candidate.

Gibbs has superstar talent as a lightning quick runner who can also catch the ball out of the backfield. He has posted nearly 2,800 all-purpose yards over the past two years despite playing on bad teams. As good as Brian Robinson Jr. was at times for the Tide last year, Gibbs will be a return to the era of big-time Bama backs, and he has a shot to etch his name alongside Mark Ingram II and Derrick Henry as a true Heisman threat if all goes well.

Sounds great to me. Maybe Gibbs can join Bryce Young and Will Anderson in New York. Wouldn’t that be something?

As Nick Kelly notes, who plays along the offensive line is probably the biggest question.

Unless the Crimson Tide decides to move an interior offensive linemen to the outside, the interior is all but set. Alabama returns all four players who played significant roles at those three spots in Javion Cohen and Emil Ekiyor Jr. at guard and Seth McLaughlin and Darrian Dalcourt at center.

As to who might start at tackle, Alabama has players such as five-stars J.C. Latham and Tommy Brockermeyer set to begin their second seasons. There are also players such as Damieon George and Amari Knight.

A starting tackle also might not be on the roster just yet. There’s a chance Alabama adds another option via the transfer portal such as Tyler Steen. The former Vanderbilt offensive tackle is reportedly considering Alabama.

Last, the first NFL Combine in the NIL era has highlighted just how much the sport has changed.

How drastically have things changed? Top NFL agents are now in the living rooms of elite high school stars recruiting them, which was unheard of a year ago. Elite college athletes are already legally making more than $1 million annually, with the forces of endorsements and collectives put together by universities likely to push that number higher. On college campuses, where agents once represented potential eligibility issues, there’s been a distinctly different approach.

“Agents are part of the new world,” Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne told ESPN in a phone interview. “Just like anything else, you need to deal in realities.

“And the reality is that it has been more of an embracing of agents than giving them the Heisman Trophy,” Byrne said referring to the stiff-arm schools would try to give agents in the past.

This is a whole new world, folks.

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

Roll Tide.