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Jumbo Package: The portal has been very good to Alabama

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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NCAA Football: Alabama Spring Game Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. Can’t lie, pickings are a little slim today. You may have heard that Jerry Jeudy was arrested for what sounds like a ridiculous spat with his significant other that involved no physical contact per the sheriff. So silly.

The transfer portal has, by all accounts, been very good to Alabama.

Meanwhile, Alabama has added a combined 39 starts in 2021. That number could have been higher if not for Eli Ricks dealing with an injury for a portion of the season at LSU. He had six starts. Overall, new offensive lineman Tyler Steen led the group with 12 for Vanderbilt.

“(Steen) definitely going to help our depth,” Young said during spring practice. ”I’m excited for him to come in. So, I trust us and I trust everything.”

Ricks produced a top-five coverage grade nationally back in 2020 as a true freshman. He was tasked with a heavy dose of man coverage and handled it like a professional. The former five-star led all Power 5 corners in man coverage grade for the year. Ricks’ physicality at the line of scrimmage and poise at the catch point make him a difficult cornerback to beat outright. An injury-riddled 2021 prevented the former LSU cornerback from capitalizing on his extraordinary true freshman campaign. Now fully healthy, he can do so in 2022 as a member of the Crimson Tide.

Ricks suffered a bit of a setback in his quest to earn a starting job when he was arrested for possession, but he will still make some noise in camp. The battle between Eli and Khyree Jackson to start opposite Kool Aid McKinstry will be a fun one.

The ACC is attempting to take what seems to be a logical step to improve its conference championship game.

“The two, I think, drivers to this: One, is the opportunity for our student athletes to play every school in the ACC over a four-year period of time,” Phillips said. “That’s just not the case right now. The other piece of it is, I’ve always felt that was a local decision about how you handle your conference. You’re seeing that across multiple conferences that they’d like to dictate what their championship structure looks like, and which will lead into eventually an expanded football playoff.

“You want your two best teams to have a chance to play at the end of the year for a lot of reasons. So that’s why it’s taken us ... you may think it’s a little bit longer, but it really isn’t. We’re really very much on track. But again, want to make sure we’ve talked to everybody to see, are we missing something here?”

Hard to argue any of that. We’ve seen many instances in the SEC where the two best teams didn’t play for the conference title. Had something like this been in place back in 2011, poor LSU could have been spared the embarrassment of having their pride stolen in New Orleans, instead taking their whipping in Atlanta.

Last, this is a great piece from Bruce Feldman on how head coaches recruit their coaching staffs. As usual, Saban always finds a way to improve throughout the process. He’s apparently known for grilling candidates for inside information in the interview.

“What made you call this?” Saban asked Werner. “What’d you guys see?”

Usually, this is the part where some coaches get a little queasy. How much of your stuff, if any, do you share? Werner’s thought process: “I was trying to get the job, and I didn’t have a job at the time.”

Another Alabama coach in the room was amused at seeing his boss’ reaction to Werner’s response.

“He was baffled that was all Hugh Freeze did on offense,” said the coach. “It was so simple. These guys were going up and down the field on us, and all it was is, ‘If you were lined up 2-High (safeties), we’re gonna check to a run. If the nickel was inside, we were gonna run an out route.‘

Said Saban: “No, seriously, tell us what you do.”

Said Werner: “No, really, that’s all we do.”

Lots of good stuff in there. It’s behind a paywall, but get you a subscription to The Athletic, cheapskate. It’s eight bucks a month to read the best sportswriters in the business.

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

Roll Tide.