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Jumbo Package: Running Backs look to be in great shape after an injury-riddled 2021 season

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Jamarion Miller and Jahmyr Gibbs are a big reason why.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 Boston College at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Spring Football is here, and we are unlikely to get tooo many hot takes or cool sound bites from Saban — the ‘Rona has let him enforce message control on par with the Kremlin. But, in his remarks yesterday, he was remarkable candid and gave great assessments on several players (and some intangibles, to boot). Developing (and keeping healthy) running backs and Wideouts are especially of concern this season.

So, let’s go through those:

On Fr. ATH/WR Kendrick Law:

Alabama has the task of replacing it’s top three wide receivers from a year ago. Three practices in and Nick Saban has been impressed with freshman wide receiver Kendrick Law.

“He’s done a nice job,” Saban said. “He’s a guy that could play multiple positions if that creates value, in your opinion. But he has done a really good job at receiver. He’s got some speed, he’s got some size, he runs good routes, he’s got really good hands. He’s picked up on things and sort of has the right mindset to be able to deal with some of the frustrations young players go through when they’re trying to learn a system and making more mistakes than they’re used to probably. He plays through it, and he’s made a lot of plays, and I think he’s a guy who might be able to help us if he continues to develop.”

On Georgia Tech transfer RB, Jahmyr Gibbs

“He has really been a very good addition to our team,” Saban said. “He’s got great speed. He’s really a good receiver, good third-down back. He’s got great vision. He’s got really good burst out of a cut. I’m really, really impressed with what he’s been able to do. He’s smart. He picked up things. He’s an experienced player. He really does a good job of understanding what we’re trying to do and how we’re doing it, and that’s what experienced players can do.

“He’s done a really, really good job.”

On Georgia Transfer WR Jermaine Burton:

It hasn’t taken long for Georgia transfer Jermain Burton to feel right at home in Tuscaloosa. On Wednesday, Nick Saban spoke about what Burton brings to the Alabama wide receiver room.

“Jermaine Burton has done a really good job … little more experience, little more maturity really helps these guys learn and understand how to do things.”

HOT TAKE: I predict that Gibbs will be Alabama’s leading rusher and Burton its leading receiver, as both become stars. And then the usual suspects will howl about the unfairness of the transfer portal.

Anyone wanna make a $5 bet on this?

On RBs Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams, both recovering from injury:

He was asked how their recoveries are progressing in addition to the UA running back group as a whole, which returns Trey Sanders and added Jahmyr Gibbs and Jamarion Miller.

“They’re doing great,” Saban said. “They’re in black jerseys, they’re both practicing non-contact. Jase is a little ahead of Roydell because he got hurt a month earlier. But they’re both doing fine. And I’m pleased with the running back situation.

On attitude, after a really awful Monday start to Spring:

“I think the effort, I think the attitude has been good and the key to the drill in spring practice is to be able to develop young players and that’s one of the reasons that we want to practice the way we practice. But we’ve got a long way to go in a lot of areas. We’ve got a long way to go with...each and every player has to self-assess as to where they are and what they have to do to improve. That’s what’s going to help them get better, if they can self-assess. And then they’ll be more positive about taking self-correction and coaching, which will certainly enhance their chances of improving.

ARCHAPALOOZA!

Alabama’s third OV with Arch Manning is scheduled next month, and at this point it seems to be a three-team contest: Texas, Alabama, and Jawjah (though LSU and Gata are other finalists:

Multiple outlets reported on Wednesday afternoon that Manning’s third spring visit will be to the Crimson Tide’s facilities. Manning, the No. 1 quarterback and top recruit on most boards, is coming off a trip to Georgia and will spend the part of the upcoming days in Texas.

It’ll be his fifth trip to Austin and his third to Tuscaloosa. Manning was previously in attendance when the Crimson Tide beat Ole Miss last season, though it wasn’t “intentional” to take in a game with another finalist. Florida and LSU round out the list.

Now is where I, the Apostate Gump, commit a bit of a heresy: if Arch Manning’s last name were Wilson, the four-year fawning would have scarce happened. Arch is a very good quarterback, don’t get me wrong. But 1. MANNING OMG!, and 2. I think the player that Alabama just signed, Ty Simpson, comes to campus as a better player and will have the better career, even if he is never quite hyped as much as his contemporary.

And we have seen this same Dutch Tulip Craze before: Sam Bradford was destroying record books while Jimmy Clausen was riding limos in South Bend. Curtis Painter, Troy Smith and Chase Daniel were ringing teams up on the field, even though the camera couldn’t get enough of Brady Quinn.

Any of that ring a bell? So, I’m going to hold off on the hyperventilating.

Oh, look! Just another attempt to chisel away college athletics. This time, for reasons that escape me, a class of black college plaintiffs are alleging that all 350 schools and the NCAA are violating their civil rights when schools cap their aid under cost-of-attendance formulae.

Legally, there’s not much of a pot to piss in here. The only argument that they can really make hay with is the so-called “disparate impact” prong in equal protection legislation. This is where something is not intentionally violative of civil rights, but in toto actions have the cumulative effect of being discriminatory anyway.

I should note that these cases have always been fraught and iffy to put in front of jury (I used to litigate Fair Housing cases, which rely greatly on this prong — not many people outright post signs anymore that say “No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish”). And, with a GOP-helmed 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court, disparate impact has become expressly disfavored over the last decade or so. CJ John Roberts has particularly been critical of disparate impact or anything really, that’s not race-blind. If you want to read more: here’s an article from the Left. And, one on the Right. (Though, if you want my spitball, he is the man that said the way to stop racial discrimination is to stop discriminating under the law for any reason. So, affirmative action is about to die a swift death, is what I’m telling you. Fight over that in the comments, if you want. It’s the offseason).

So, why do this? My best real guess is that here there is an entire class of students at HBCUs who the NIL gravy train has passed on by, and it has upset some folks without those big-dollar deals, even as the CFP is raking in billions. Second, though unspoken: civil rights cases are entitled to statutory attorneys’ fees of 25%, and this is a big damned plaintiff class CHA-CHING).

But the actual argument is that NCAA COA formula should be total revenue of each sport that determines the COA, not an across the board amount. Thus the effect of not making money is a burden that falls on black players because proportionally more black athletes exist than white ones.

In the complaint, the maths being used to determine the amounts “denied” to black athletes, of all persuasions in all sports, are — let’s say...debatable.

Look, I didn’t say it was a good argument.

Speaking of pay for play, when NIL gets reformed (and it will), I suspect that the new initiative by Penn State (and previously one for the Texas OL), will be the way forward: A pooled revenue-share or collective.

It seems to be the one that can best cling on to the NCAA’s stated amateurism model, while not deeming them employees, and still letting players profit off their skills image:

“Ninety-five percent of the market is a thinly-veiled pay for play,” said Jason Belzer, CEO of Student Athlete NIL, the company managing Penn State’s collective. “That’s not what this is. We are creating off-the-field access for athletes. Very robust internships. The collective will pay athletes to work at those internships.”

While ‘Bama Baseball may have taken a shameful loss to Alabama’s Med School, the Softball team did not. Though, like the men, the ladies fell into an early hole before rallying to smack around the Blazers.

Ally Shipman and Jenna Johnson both posted multi-hit performances, each scoring a run. Six other Tide players tallied a hit in the win, including Aubrey Barnhart’s first career hit and a fourth-inning single for Ashley Prange to extend her hitting streak to six games. Jaala Torrence (5-1) earned the win in relief, throwing 4.0 hitless shutout innings.

Okay, that’s it for now. We’ll see you later today...maybe. Maybe not.

Roll Tide.

Poll

Who Will Be Alabama’s Leading Rusher in 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Jahmyr Gibbs
    (452 votes)
  • 2%
    Roydell Williams
    (14 votes)
  • 0%
    Jamarion Miller
    (4 votes)
  • 13%
    Trey Sanders
    (88 votes)
  • 13%
    Jase McClellan
    (87 votes)
  • 1%
    Other
    (8 votes)
653 votes total Vote Now