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Jumbo Package: Nick Saban, Alabama football will tie NFL Draft record on Thursday

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Alabama v Duke Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Old friend Clint Lamb decided to take a look back at the legendary 2017 recruiting class ahead of Thursday’s NFL Draft.

Of those 28 players, 15 of them were on offense with the other 13 on either defense or special teams. Pretty standard, right? Well, here comes the really good part about the offensive signees.

Of the 15, over half of them were first-round draft picks to the NFL.

That group includes two quarterbacks, a running back, three wide receivers and two offensive linemen. Overall, Alabama signed seven offensive players who ranked amongst the top 75 players nationally. All of them — every single one — was a first-round pick.

That class was a unicorn, folks.

Safety Kaine Williams has apparently been passed up and decided to transfer.

Williams was a four-star recruit in 2021 from Louisiana who ranked No. 176 nationally in 247 Sports’ industry composite. He appeared in only one game as a freshman last season, in the SEC championship against Georgia, on special teams.

Alabama returned both of its starting safeties, Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams, for their senior seasons this offseason. Kristian Story and DeVonta Smith worked as Alabama’s second-team safeties in Alabama’s spring game, making Williams’ role this season less certain.

Best of luck to him.

While Kaine will undoubtedly find a home as pretty much every player who transfers from Alabama does, it turns out that the transfer portal is in fact the quitter hole much of the time, whether the player intended it that way or not.

In the research the NCAA conducted, it shows that only 59% of scholarship FBS football players who entered their name in the transfer portal transferred to another school and received a scholarship at the next destination. Among those scholarship players who entered the portal, 33% (834) still remain active and 8% transferred without athletic aid.

A full 40% of portal goers failing to find a scholarship is a staggering number. So many shortsighted and immature decisions made, and hopefully life lessons learned. Coaches are certainly happy to see the portal deadline approach.

“Because then, [once it’s closed], your team is your team,” Drinkwitz said. “You can get kids out of the portal by then, but you can’t lose anybody else. We all thought [the big push] was going to be this week, and we haven’t seen it yet.

“All of us were like, ‘It’s going to be a mass exodus to the portal.’”

Judge for yourself. More than 10% of the FBS transfer portal entries in April (26 of 252) came last Thursday, according to Susan Peal, who manages the National Letter of Intent for the NCAA.

“Whether we see a spike after this week knowing we’re going into the last week [is unknown],” Peal told CBS Sports.

Saban will be tying yet another record on Thursday, and it will fall in April of 2023.

13 Consecutive first rounds have included at least one Alabama player, the second-longest streak in draft history. The record for the most consecutive drafts providing a first-round selection is 14 by Miami (Fla.) from 1995 through 2008. Alabama OT Evan Neal and WR Jameson Williams are expected to be chosen on Thursday night.

Considering the talent on the roster this may get into unbreakable territory before all is said and done, though consolidation of top talent at a few schools will probably create more of these streaks.

Last, count Pete Prisco among those who believe that Evan Neal should become the first player in Alabama history to be the top pick in the draft.

The entire offseason has been about Trevor Lawrence. That should continue. Even with Cam Robinson on a franchise tag, you can never have enough offensive linemen. Plus right tackle Jawaan Taylor has struggled the past two seasons.

Neal has elite size, elite athleticism, elite tape, and hasn’t missed any significant time with injuries. He is the safest bet to be a longtime starter in this draft class.

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

Roll Tide.