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Jumbo Package: Tyler Steen expected to pick Alabama, James Rojas hits the portal

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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Vanderbilt v Florida Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Vanderbilt OT Tyler Steen is expected to make an official announcement very soon, perhaps today, and Tony Tsoukalas reports that he’s already apartment shopping in Tuscaloosa.

Steen was spotted on Alabama’s campus over the weekend as he took in the Crimson Tide’s scrimmage Saturday. The trip marked his second visit to Tuscaloosa in a span of two weeks as he also visited the campus with his father late last month. The offensive lineman is currently searching for an apartment in Tuscaloosa and is expected to announce his decision in the near future.

The Alabama staff has, by all accounts, recruited Tyler hard leading into his final season of eligibility. You can pencil him in for a starting job somewhere along the line if he comes, and expect some attrition as well.

Speaking of attrition, James Rojas has joined the portal party.

In total, seven players from Alabama’s basketball team last season have entered the portal since the season ended with a first-round loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament last month. That includes five scholarship players in Rojas, forwards Alex Tchikou, Juwan Gary and Keon Ambrose-Hylton, and guard Jusaun Holt, as well as two walk-ons in Johnson and Jaden Quinerly.

Assuming that Oats doesn’t coax any of the above back from the portal, this leaves only Noah Gurley, Charles Bediako, Darius Miles and Nimari Burnett as returnees. Alabama signed a stellar class of four in the 2022 cycle including two McDonalds All-Americans, and recently added transfer PG Mark Sears from Ohio University. This leaves four scholarships available for portal shopping, for a team that is considered a top 15 squad despite all the attrition. Stay tuned.

Bryce Young seems keen on the 2022 squad’s leadership.

“It’s always tough when you lose guys who played a big role not only on the field and off the field,” Young said. “We’ve had some guys step up, (Jordan) Battle, DJ (Dale), obviously, Will (Anderson), he’s been a big leader for us ever since he’s been here. Those guys have done a really good job of stepping up and being more vocal. I’m excited to see how we take it as a team and as a leadership group.”

We still need to see a couple of guys step up alongside Young on the offensive side, but it sounds like Jahmyr Gibbs and Jermaine Burton may be candidates. When upperclassmen transfer in to get a ring and showcase themselves for the NFL, they tend to be all business. If Steen comes in, expect more of the same.

Alabama has launched a new NIL collective aimed at helping student athletes find endorsement opportunities.

“High Tide Traditions was established to harness the power of Name, Image, and Likeness with student-athletes to make and propel positive business relationships across the city, state, region and nation,” the website states. “Through strategic partnerships utilizing data analytics, it is important to High Tide Traditions that student-athletes will be engaged in amplifying the exposure for our business partners through relatable and authentic content, appearances, and other mutually beneficial services.”

Jaylen Waddle may never live down saying he prefers Mac to Tua before last year’s draft.

Waddle’s answer was simple. In fact, some had even correctly speculated in 2021 that this was the case. Waddle said that he chose Jones over Tagovailoa because one was already in the league and the other would have benefited from an endorsement from one of the top receivers in the draft class.

This is just logical sense, but people have to find controversy in everything.

Mac Jones is sounding Brady-esque in his offseason preparation.

Some who have spent time around quarterback Mac Jones this offseason describe him as being on a mission — from following a disciplined diet to focusing on full-body fundamentals that will help him get more pace on his throws when needed, arm-care maintenance, as well as strengthening bonds with teammates on and off the field. While Bourne’s Instagram photos from Tampa last week put a spotlight on Jones’ work with receivers, I’m told it wasn’t the first time Jones gathered with teammates this offseason, with a handful of sessions in Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago that included Agholor, tight end Jonnu Smith, practice-squad receiver Tre Nixon and running back Damien Harris, among others.

Good for him. Hopefully the results will follow.

Chris Owens has his sights set on life after his playing days are over.

His smarts will serve him well, however, long after his playing career lasts. His curiosity about football has served as the foundation of his career and will be important fuel for future roles in football.

“I still watch a lot of football,” Owens said. “I still go look at people’s film. Obviously, I have Evan as my top tackle. But I want to see what the other tackles look like as well, and I want to see what’s out there and what people are looking at. Then I realize: Wait, I’m part of this same draft class. I’m part of this process, too.”

Owens wants to be a NFL GM some day.

Last, Texas A&M’s spring game passing was rather putrid.

LSU transfer Max Johnson only completed 13 of his 31 passes, but he hit for two touchdowns: a 40-yard pass to receiver Jalen Preston and a 13-yarder to tight end Blake Smith. He completed six straight passes in the middle of the game and had the most consistent control of the offense. Freshman quarterback Conner Weigman flashed his impressive upside right away, throwing a 32-yard touchdown to Yulkeith Brown on his third pass attempt. Weigman completed just 7 of 19 passes, but six of them went for more than 10 yards.

King, conversely, completed 11 of 33 passes and had an interception on each side while playing for both teams. He only threw for 130 yards

For those counting, that is a combined 31 completions in 83 attempts for a whopping 37%. That, folks, is a horror show.

That’s about it for now. Have a great day.

Roll Tide.