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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Alabama’s recruiting class for 2023 may be small, but it has potential to explode in the next month

NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama’s 2023 signing class may appear uncharacteristically short as of mid-June. The Crimson Tide has netted four prospects, good for 48th nationally in 247Sports composite way-too-early rankings. Two of those recruits also could end up flipping as well.

Luckily for head coach Nick Saban and co., the board is stacked with talent and Alabama appears to be in the mix on plenty.

Decisions are set to be made throughout the summer by five-star players. Which ones should Crimson Tide fans keep an eye on? Here’s a list of 10 targets ranked by positional need and talent.

As an aside, Alabama has 5 prospects, for 38th in the nation, now, after the commitment of Wilkin Formby. It’s still a small class so far, and usually the Tide starts picking up steam in June following the series of camps hosted in Tuscaloosa. Hopefully we see a run of recruits jumping on board soon.

July is set to be a huge month for 2023 recruits deciding their collegiate futures. It’ll start off with an Alabama target and one of the nation’s best high school tight ends. Riley Williams, a four-star from Central (Ore.) Catholic, announced his decision date for July 1. He has a final three of Ohio State, Miami and the Crimson Tide.

Tight end is an area where Alabama is still looking for future contributors, so securing the pledge of one of the top ones in the country would be huge.

And lest you forget about the small core of players already committed, pass rusher Yhonzae Pierre has been making waves this offseason, and could definitely see his recruiting ranking shoot up.

Phil Steele’s annual college football magazines will soon be hitting shelves nationwide, and the longtime analyst likes Alabama prior to the 2022 season. In addition to the Crimson Tide topping his Power Poll, 17 total Alabama players were named to the preseason All-SEC Team.

The first team included quarterback Bryce Young, running back Jahmyr Gibbs, wide receiver Jermaine Burton, defensive lineman Justin Eboigbe, linebackers Will Anderson and Henry To’o To’o and defensive backs Eli Ricks and Jordan Battle. As for the second unit, tight end Cameron Latu, offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor and kicker Will Reichard made the cut, while defensive lineman Byron Young, linebacker Dallas Turner and Gibbs (this time as a kickoff returner) were named to the third team. Wide receiver Tyler Harrell and defensive backs Kool-Aid McKinstry and DeMarcco Hellams rounded out the list of players as fourth-team selections.

Most of the SEC’s first-team defense is essentially the Alabama defense. 9 Alabama players also made Steele’s All-American list.

Dallas Turner on 3rd team seems to be a bit disrespectful though, in my opinion. Hopefully Turner uses it as motivation.

Jones looks like a totally different player when comparing his 2021 minicamp to his 2022 minicamp.

There was one thing that clearly impressed in 2021: his understanding of the offense. Jones was quick to get rid of the ball during OTAs and minicamp. Where most rookies quarterbacks have struggled in the past in New England — misfiring to empty parts of the field or simply standing in the pocket uncertainly for sacks — Jones did not. That was a positive sign, even if he was prone to checking down to his slot receivers and running backs for short gains.

That was 2021.

In 2022, he was launching the ball with a completely new sense of confidence. It wasn’t just that he understood the offense. It was that he showed a willingness and readiness to attack the entire field — and with players that he underutilized last year (Nelson Agholor, Jonnu Smith). It will be fascinating to see whether Jones has evolved his game in Year 2.

Despite New England fielding a fairly underwhelming roster, a rookie Mac Jones too the Pats to the playoffs just 1 year after former MVP Cam Newton lost more games than he won.

In fact, the addition of Jones added a full touchdown per game to the Patriots’ season average in 2021. The Pats’ 27 points per game ranked very near the top of the NFL, despite most folks acting like Mac was doing nothing but checkdowns all game.

Check out this Twitter clip from Josh Norris (a great NFL Twitter personality that I definitely suggest as a follow for any NFL fan) about Mac’s haters:

The 2022 NBA Draft is scheduled to take place Thursday, June 23 (7 p.m. CT on ESPN), and as many as two former Alabama basketball players could hear their names called among the 58 picks (Picks 54 and 55 were forfeited by the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat, respectively).

Guards JD Davison (freshman) and Keon Ellis (senior) are most likely to be selected later in the second round after both earned invites to the NBA Draft Combine. Tide junior guard Jaden Shackelford, while working out for several pro teams, did not and isn’t expected to be drafted.

Best of luck to J.D. Davison and Keon Ellis. Both have a decent shot of getting drafted at the back of the 2nd round, though they could easily slide into being undrafted. If just one of the two gets drafted, they’ll push Alabama’s all-time NBA draft selections up to 46.

Roll Tide!