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Jumbo Package: Alabama Crimson Tide dominates sports other than Football

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Wheelchair basketball, swimming, and gymnastics all headline a strong week for the Crimson Tide

Syndication: Tuscaloosa News Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORK

With the Tide bowing out of March Madness with a whimper, we’re really going to start getting into the heart of the offseason. That said, some big things have been happening with the other, less publicized sports for Alabama:

2022 has been tough for Alabama fans, but it’s clear that, above all else, we are a wheelchair basketball school.

At the same time, the swimming program is doing some nice things:

Alabama, the No. 4 seed, did everything it could and scored a 197.825 to take second. But the night belonged to Florida, which stayed unbeaten (14-0-1).

“We talked about how we had to earn everything tonight, and nothing was going to be handed to us,” Alabama coach Dana Duckworth said. “There was so much fight in them tonight.”

There wasn’t much to celebrate at the end of the meet as the Crimson Tide’s Luisa Blanco landed awkwardly on her balance beam dismount, and injured her ankle.

She sat on the mat for more than 10 minutes as the UA staff attended to her. Blanco, who scored a 39.050 in the all-around, was then carried off the floor.

“I’m not sure yet,” Duckworth said on the status of Blanco. “We will have to wait and see.”

It was clear from the start it was a two-team meet. Florida and Alabama separated themselves after the first rotation with LSU and Auburn struggling on bars and beam.

In gym, losing All-American Luisa Blanco was a major blow to the Tide as they move forward to the NCAA regionals. As of now, there’s been no updates on her injury. Alabama will look to build on their strong performance in the SEC finals to see how far they can get in the NCAA.

As a final moratorium for the MBB team, Charlie Potter is going ahead and getting started breaking down the Tide’s roster and who may or may not be returning next season. It’s a great, thorough piece if you’re ready to move on from the brutal ending of the 2022 season:

WHO IS DEFINITELY RETURNING?

Nimari Burnett, Noah Gurley

Burnett did not see the court this year, his first in Tuscaloosa after transferring from Texas Tech, because of an ACL injury he sustained in early September. He should be back and ready to suit up next season. We also know Gurley will be back for a rare sixth season, as both he and Oats revealed that news prior to Senior Day. Gurley should benefit from having a year in the program and playing in the SEC for a full season and could be a top leader for UA in 2022-23.

“He told us this past week he’s gonna come back again next year, so we’re super happy to get him back,” Oats said in late February. “I think he’s gonna be dynamite next year with a year under his belt in the SEC. He’s starting to really play well and come into his own here.”

Burnett was known as a phenomenal perimeter defender coming from Texas Tech and, in hindsight, his injury before the season was a massive blow to what became Alabama’s biggest weakness throughout the season. Hopefully, he’ll be able to come back and be a huge part of next year’s squad.

It’s possible that at the end of the 2022 season, only four Alabama alumni who were position players will have appeared in more NFL regular-season games than Kareem Jackson. But first, Jackson needs a team with which to continue his NFL career.

Jackson became an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday after playing for the Denver Broncos during his 12th NFL season. Like most of the more than 500 players in the same circumstance, Jackson hasn’t been signed yet for the 2022 season.

“Going into Year 13, I feel good,” Jackson said last week during an appearance on NFL Network. “I’m confident I could play in any scheme, so it’s free game for me. If the right opportunity presents itself, I like to tell people all the time I’ll go play on the Moon if I have to. I’m all about going out and competing and being a piece of the puzzle, so, hopefully, the right situation will come and I’ll find a place that definitely wants and needs me.”

In the NFL world, Kareem Jackson is looking to be part of that second wave of free agency where teams realize they overpaid for some flashy positions and still have a major glaring hole at safety. He’s at the point of his career where he can take a 1-year stopgap contract if he likes the team and is a versatile, veteran presence that can play pretty much every defensive back position in any scheme. Some other notable former Tide players available in free agency are James Carpenter, Landon Collins, Rashaan Evans, Dont’a Hightower, Ronnie Harrison, Julio Jones, A.J. McCarron, Jarran Reed, Reggie Ragland, and JK Scott.

While I wouldn’t be surprised if Julio hangs things up after being cut by the Titans (that dude has sooo much wear on his body from years of playing), many of these other players can be solid depth signings for teams looking to fill out their rosters.