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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Alabama continues to pick up steam on the recruiting trail as we head into July

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Goodyear Cotton Bowl - Cincinnati v Alabama Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the last couple of days, Alabama has picked up two new commitments for the 2023 football recruiting class, up to 7 commits in the last two weeks.

First, it was the monstrous offensive lineman, RyQueze McElderry, who is immediately challenging Yhonzae Pierre and Wilkin Formby for the best name in the class. A local kid from Anniston, there was some initial hand-wringing from Bama fans when McElderry committed to Georgia, but he eventually flipped to the Tide.

Alabama dipped its foot back into the in-state pool on Monday, landing Anniston interior offensive lineman RyQueze McElderry. The one-time Georgia commit had interest from all over the country, and for good reason.

“RyQueze is an extremely hard worker,” Anniston coach Bradley Ball told BamaOnLine. “He fits the mold .. from talking with numerous coaches, he’s like an old school offensive player. He’s a big kid. Whatever’s in his path, he’s going to move it out of the way. A lot of the comparison around Alabama is to Deonte Brown just because of how big and powerful he is.”

McElderry is a 4-star prospect for On3 and Rivals, but a 3-star for 247 and ESPN. In any case, he’s a mountainous run blocker at offensive tackle who’s most likely going to be a guard for Alabama. Saban has always had a penchant for the 330+ lb guard, so don’t be surprised if McElderry takes a couple years to work on his pass protection before becoming a legit starter for the Tide.

One day later, Saban and the staff secured the commitment of the highly coveted #1 overall JUCO recruit, Malik Benson:

Benson becomes the second wide receiver to join Alabama’s 2023 class, joining Cole Adams, who committed to the program last month.

UA is prioritizing speed at its skill positions, and Benson brings just that. The Kansas native has clocked a verified 10.44-second 100-meter dash, and is the holder of a number of impressive track accolades. And not only does he flash athleticism, he’s an accomplished pass catcher. The JUCO wideout recorded 43 receptions for 1,229 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

“Just past history with the receivers and what they’ve done and the culture they’ve built,” Benson told of why UA was high on his mind. “And the relationship I’ve got with Coach (Holmon) Wiggins. (It’s a place) I can see myself playing at.”

Benson went on a hectic summer tour of Oregon, LSU, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia in the last month without letting on too much to the recruiting services before picking the Tide on July 5th. The 10.44 100m track time is certifiably FAST, and he’ll be a veteran addition next year after Jermaine Burton and Tyler Harrell both move on after their 1-year rental seasons.

Watch his highlight at the 0:37 mark in the video above, and tell me you aren’t excited about that level of speed, route-running polish, and natural balance.

Dallas touched on what he felt Alabama did a good job of when it came to recruiting Benson.

“I think every program in those top five did a great job of recruiting him and communicating with him and his family,” he said. “I think at that level those guys are all good recruiters and those are all special programs. I think really what it came down to is what is the best fit for me and my family, and where can I put myself in the best situation to achieve my goals. I think for him, he felt like Alabama could do that. They did a great job in the communication aspect. They were very detailed in the recruitment process as far as keeping everybody in the loop and making sure they’re recruiting him for the right reasons, and being thorough on what they were doing. I think he appreciated that. He’s not a kid that gets caught up in the hype or the wrong kinds of things. He’s got a very level head on his shoulders. He was very thorough in his decision making process, too. And like I said, really those top five schools recruiting him, he had a tough decision because all five of them are really great programs.”

Moving on to current players at Alabama, Javion Cohen opened up on his Instagram about mental health:

“for the past month i have been in rehabilitation for mental health reasons,” Cohen wrote in an Instagram caption. “the pressure we feel as athletes is insurmountable and can be too much at times. i don’t want to focus on the bad though, i want to shed light on the good that has come of this. (one of the lessons i learned here lol.) herren wellness has taught me so many things about myself and life that i am eternally grateful for. the biggest lesson, it’s okay to not be okay but it is not okay to not say you’re not okay. i know i’m not alone when i say i felt for the longest i had no support. no outlet to express my emotions too without feeling judged or being afraid to do so.

“being here taught myself and so many around me that that’s not true. being vulnerable does not make you weak, it actually shows how strong you are. i have plenty of tools i learned here that will help push me to be the man i want to be and it all started with a simple statement. “i’m not okay.” to anyone who feels like they are alone you aren’t. there are people in this world who are willing to help you but the first step is allowing them too.

“i encourage everyone reading this to put yourself first and stand up for your mental health. the struggle ends when you decide to talk about it. this has been an absolute blessing from God and i’m completely sure it will be for others too. seek the help you need and do not be afraid to be open about your troubles. forever grateful for herren wellness, my support system, and most importantly God for giving me the strength to go through this journey and make myself a better man. looking forward to life more and more every day! #umatter”

Props to Cohen for trying to work through whatever it is that is gnawing at him. So many people succumb to inner demons when they’re ignored and shoved in the shadows.

Here’s to the rising junior as he works his way into a leadership position on the team, and hopefully he continues his upward trajectory as a blocker for the Tide.

Among those guys, he said, were Wyoming transfer Isaiah Neyor and Alabama transfers Ajai Hall and Jahleel Billingsley.

McElroy joked that Sarkisian has so many potential weapons he might have to resort to rock, paper, scissors when it comes to deciding who will get the ball.

Sarkisian joked, “Be careful with the rock, paper, scissors. I got what my old boss called an ass chewing. I have a couple of receivers do that in games when I was back in Tuscaloosa.”

The joke, of course, is in reference to Sarkisian’s time in Tuscaloosa when he had receivers Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III playing the game to see which would be the primary target on a pass play.

Good stuff from Sark here.

It’s gonna be a long day for the the Longhorns, but I do wish all the best from the former Tide OC for the rest of his season.

Roll Tide!