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Jumbo Package: Don’t invite Evan Neal to dinner

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NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Georgia vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. The Gym Tide impressed out in Seattle yesterday, posting the highest score of the day to advance to Saturday’s regional final. They will compete with Michigan State, Utah, and Stanford, with the top two advancing to the 8-team national championships to be held in mid-April. Saturday’s event will be available streaming only, through the ESPN app.

Softball will try to keep the momentum going from last weekend’s sweep of South Carolina as they host #15 Georgia for a three game set on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. All three of the games will be televised starting with Saturday’s 3:30 first pitch on ESPN2. The following two games start at 3pm and 6pm respectively, each airing on SEC Network.

Meanwhile, baseball will host Texas A&M in what was projected to be one of the more winnable series in the conference season. The Aggies have played pretty well of late however, taking five of their last eight including two wins over LSU at Alex Box and a midweek victory over #1 Texas on Tuesday.

In football news that really isn’t, Evan Neal is a behemoth of a man who consumes a lot of food.

The Alabama football offensive lineman is 6-foot-7½, 337 pounds.

And that’s a lean 337. He’s able to move with impressive speed and athleticism, showing the ability last summer to complete a split box jump. To fuel what he needs to do as an offensive lineman, he eats about 3,500 to 4,000 calories a day, Neal said at the Alabama pro day on Wednesday.

“I like to eat lean meats like rotisserie chicken and rice and steak,” Neal said. “I’m allergic to seafood so I can’t eat fish or anything like that, which is a bummer. So I eat turkey. Things like that. A lot of beans. Protein.”

So, basically, don’t invite Evan to dinner unless you can afford to feed him about three portions. I am going to stop talking now in case he reads this.

Evan elected not to run the 40 at pro day.

That tape was darn good as he protected the blind side of Heisman-Trophy winner Bryce Young in 2021. Neal also showed the ability to play right tackle (2020) and left guard (2019).

“His size and athletic ability has put him in a position where I think he has a very bright future,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. ”He did a great job for us, whether he played guard or tackle. I’m sure that diversity will help him as a pro player as well.”

Alabama will need to replace Evan on the 2022 offensive line, and we will get a sneak peek of the new look line in Saturday’s first scrimmage of the spring.

Latham could be the starting left tackle. While speaking at the Alabama pro day Wednesday, Neal said he had a chance to stop by spring practice and saw Latham and Kendall Randolph working at tackle opposite each other.

“(Latham’s) a hard worker,” Neal said. “He pays close attention to detail. I’m really excited to see how his development goes on here throughout the year.”

Latham was a five-star prospect and the No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2021 class, according to the 247Sports Composite. He received 142 snaps in 2021, 137 of which came while filling in at right guard, according to Pro Football Focus’ charting. In the Cotton Bowl against Cincinnati, he got 55 snaps and was Alabama’s second-highest graded lineman behind Neal in pass blocking.

“He’s picked up his intensity,” Cohen said. ”He’s picked up his focus. He’s a lot more mature now. He’s very, very well rounded. He can play inside, outside, both sides actually.”

It would be huge if Latham is ready to command that left tackle job. He was the top tackle in his class for a reason and was seemingly destined for that role. With the interior of the line likely settled with Javion Cohen and Emil Ekiyor Jr. at the guard spots, and McLaughlin at center, that would leave only the right tackle spot that caused so many issues last season. My guess is that spring ball will provide the players on the roster a chance to prove themselves, and if nobody grabs that spot then the Tide will pull Tyler Steen from Vanderbilt and put him there.

Bill Belichick spoke about why he likes drafting Alabama players.

“Nick does a great job. When his players leave here, they’re ready to go [at the NFL level],” Belichick told The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride down in Tuscaloosa.

“There’s always good players here. They do a great job. These guys are going to play somewhere, whether we draft them or not,” he said. “So, it’s good to get to know them. They do a great job. I like watching film with the players and seeing some of the things schematically that they’re doing.”

As usual, the NFL brass recruit better for Saban than any bagman ever could.

Alabama is trying hard to keep another explosive defender in state.

Last year, Nick Saban and co. landed commitments from two Warriors in linebacker Jeremiah Alexander, the top-ranked player in the state in 2022, and Miami-flip Tre’Quon Fegans. Woods and Alexander have drawn rave comparisons and their relationship is one of the many reasons that recruiting evaluators have predicted Woods to stay in-state. Amari Kight is a redshirt junior on the Crimson Tide and is Woods’ cousin.

The Arch Manning road show’s next stop is in T-town.

This weekend it will be the Alabama Crimson Tide that will host the No. 1 recruit in the 2023 class. Head coach Nick Saban and the staff are expecting some huge visitors over the weekend alongside Manning. According to Joseph Hastings of On3, this is a “crucial” visit for the Tide. Recent recruiting projections have Texas as the clear-cut favorite to land Manning at this point.

Austin, the land where the substance rarely matches the hype, is exactly where this circus should land.

Last, Nate Oats seems to expect JD Davison to enter the NBA Draft, but there is still a possibility that he returns.

“He’s got such ridiculous upside,” Oats said. “His best basketball is years down the road. I think he showed he can do enough that he’s going to be drafted. But that’s a family decision, and I’m not making the decision for him.”

If it’s trending that Davison might go in the second round, Oats agreed that it might be worthwhile to stay for another year. Otherwise, a first-round grade could make the decision easy.

“A lot of people said, ‘JD could really use another year with you.’ Couldn’t they all?’” Oats said. “But if they’re going to get drafted and get guaranteed first-round money ... if a kid is going to get guaranteed first-round money, it’s hard to tell them to stay. You’re not doing right by the kid.”

I’d lean heavily toward him leaving, but we’ll keep an eye on it.

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

Roll Tide.