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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Da’Ron Payne is about to get PAID

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Clemson Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

With college football officially over for another year, pickings are quite slim for links today.

It sounds like Sark is potentially looking to have Wiggins rejoin him, now with the Longhorns. According to a report from CJ Vogel of TFB Texas on Jan. 10 (donor content), Texas had “preliminary discussions” with Wiggins this week regarding the WR coach job opening.

The TFB Texas report doesn’t really dive into how deep and/or meaningful the discussions were between Sark and Wiggins. But it does mean something that Texas has at least had some form of communication with the well-respected Alabama WR coach.

This seems like dubious information at best. Until I see a more official report, I don’t really believe it... Especially for a lateral move for Wiggins.

Caleb Downs of Mill Creek (Hoschton, Ga.) has been named the 2022 MaxPreps National High School Football Player of the Year. The Alabama signee joins the likes of Derrick Henry (2012), Kyler Murray (2013-14) and Bryce Young (2019) as winners of the honor over the past decade.

Downs joins that list after leading Mill Creek to a 14-1 record, the AAAAAAA state championship and the No. 11 spot in the final MaxPreps Top 25.

Congrats to Caleb Downs! We’re all looking forward to him showing up in Tuscaloosa and adding an infusion of elite talent to the back end of the defense.

Fourteen newcomers played in four or less games, which means they will be redshirt freshmen in 2023. Those players include Brown, Fegans, Perry, Pope, Jeremiah Alexander, Isaiah Hastings, Antonio Kite, Danny Lewis, Earl Little, Shawn Murphy, Elijah Pritchett, Shazz Preston and Ty Simpson. Murphy and Preston played in the bowl game but were spared by the one-time blanket waiver. Aaron Anderson also redshirted before electing to transfer to LSU.

Charlie Potter did the hard work for us on this one. The full list of every player with their # of games played is also in the article.

Guys like Elijah Pritchett, Ty Simpson, Shawn Murphy, and Earl Little are all going to be right in the thick of things trying to win a starting job, so that redshirt year could be important.

On the other side of things, Hank South put together a quick list of which Alabama players were enrolling early.

Upon review, I decided to only show the list of players not enrolling early:

Not enrolling early

Keon Keeley, 5-star edge, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep

Richard Young, 4-star RB, Lehigh Acres (Fla.) Lehigh Senior

Yhonzae Pierre, 4-star edge, Eufaula (Ala.)

Conor Talty, K, Chicago (Ill.) St. Rita

Yeah. Essentially the entire class will be here for spring practice.

I remember when it used to only be 5-10 players each season, and we always got excited about those few.

Washington already had the opportunity to commit to paying Payne for the 2023 season and beyond and passed up the chance. Now signing him to a contract extension almost certainly will cost the Commanders more than it would have before the 2022 season.

In his fifth NFL campaign, Payne reached career highs with 64 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, 20 quarterback hits and five pass breakups. Only two defensive-interior linemen recorded more sacks in 2022 than Payne.

I knew Payne was having a good season, but I didn’t realize he had nearly 12 sacks. From a nose tackle spot. He’s not just about to get paid.... He’s very likely about to be the highest paid DT in the world. Every team in the NFL needs an interior pass rusher, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he legitimately gets 32 offers the day he hits free agency. Except maybe the Saints, who perpetually have negative cap space.

With their season over, Jones’ teammates sounded off more solidly in support of the signal-caller:

· Center David Andrews said: “He’s battled all year. Faced some adversity, dealing with injury — part of this business and league. He battled all year, so appreciate the fight and the effort he put forth this week and all year.”

· Running back Damien Harris said: “He’s an ultimate competitor. He’s an ultimate leader, ultimate teammate, ultimate friend. Having the opportunity to play with him in college and then come here and just continue to watch him progress, watch him grow, it’s been special to watch.”

· Wide receiver DeVante Parker said: “He’s a tough guy. He got a lot of toughness in him. He trusts us. You know, you saw it today: Just throw it up, 50/50 chance. We keep making plays, and it just gives him a lot of confidence in us.”

· Guard Cole Strange said: “I know he’s got a really, really great work ethic. There was like so many times where I remember I was here ridiculously late for no reason, you know, like later than I should have been, and he was still watching film or something or getting treatment. He’s got a really great work ethic. I got a lot of respect for him.”

I don’t know what Bill Belichick’s problem is, but he needs to figure it out (and find an actual OC!) before he wastes a perfectly good QB.

Two former Alabama players signed NFL reserve/future contracts on Tuesday – safety Shyheim Carter with the Tennessee Titans and defensive lineman LaBryan Ray with the New England Patriots.

Both players ended the 2022 season on the practice squads of those teams.

Congrats to these two for continuing to hang around in the league. They will, at least, be on the roster come March and will have a shot to make their mark in training camp and make the in-season roster.

Roll Tide!