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Jumbo Package: Incoming Alabama Pass-Rushers Dominate All-American Bowl

Keon Keeley, Yhonzae Pierre make immediate impact


Farewell to Will Anderson, hello to his clone — perhaps an afterthought to many Tide fans in November (or a wildly optimistic pickup), the 5-star EDGE was unanimously acclaimed as the best pass-rusher in the 2023 class. Notre Dame had secured his commitment, though Ohio State and Georgia were also in the mix.

But one team simply never gave up: Alabama. And in this All-American Bowl, he made an immediate impact.

Keon Keeley has been perhaps the most dominant pass rusher at this game since Will Anderson, who dominated this event three years ago. He’s physically ready to make an impact in Tuscaloosa. Just a very quick, tenacious pass rusher that often makes the offensive linemen look like they’re standing in concrete. If he doesn’t win with his quick first step, he’s also won with his motor and his ability to just get off blocks and be a factor in that regard. The No. 1 edge rusher in the country has been as advertised.”

But he was not alone, as four-star edge rusher Yhonzae Pierre was a one-man wrecking crew for the Western squad.

Yhonzae Pierre has been the most disruptive player on the West team. A blur off the edge. He can also really bend and torque his body. He can put himself in position where offensive linemen can’t go. Then the exciting thing about Yhonzae, when you look at Keeley you see a college body, when you look at Yhonzae you see someone that has physical upside to get stronger with his quickness and his athleticism and his body torque.”

There are great classes, then there are the signing classes that you just know are going to pay off. Alabama’s 2008 and 2017 groups come to mind. This group, with guys like Haynes and Keeley and Downs, very much gives me that same vibe.

And there are some dogs in this class too.

Full story here.

They weren’t alone in production, either:

Defensively, defensive lineman Jordan Renaud made five solo tackles, among the game’s leaders. Desmond Ricks, the last five-star to join the 2023 class, recorded four tackles.

But, RB Richard Young had two fumbles in just 10 touches, and that’s an invitation some bench time at Alabama. Let’s hope it was a one-off. Ball security was never among the concerns with Young’s game.

Damar Hamlin’s terrifying injury has opened up a space on the Bill’s 53-man roster, and with it, a chance for the Tide’s Jared Mayden to finally get a look at live snaps.

Mayden has floated around practice squads for a few years and been an unsigned free agent, but with Hamlin’s backup pressed into the starting role, Mayden has a great chance to see special teams snaps and dime looks (and in some fairness that where he had his best success in college too).

Over at the hive of scum and villainy known as College Station, noted ethicist of our time, Jimbo Fisher, decided that hitching his wagon to a rapist at FSU (allegedly) and a killer now at Texas A&M (allegedly), just wasn’t quite enough.

He’s now decided to add one of the game’s scuzzier elements to his staff: the job-hopping, philandering, legal liability disaster of Bobby Petrino.

Look, the man can still coach offenses. Everyone knows that. But even Aggie Man isn’t happy with adding to staff that also includes DJ Durkin. Rhetorically (or maybe not, in retrospect), so many wondered why not Art Briles that it trended nationally on Twitter.

Reckless. Myopic. Utterly corrupt. Fits right in with Jimbo’s culture.

And none of it will matter when, once again, A&M is sitting at 8-5 at season’s end and smarting from a loss in the Duke’s Mayo bowl.

Before he played a single minute of regular season ball, we had consigned ourselves to the fact that star wing, Brandon Miller, was all-but-assuredly a one-and-done talent. He’s done nothing but solidify that projection.

The freshman star was named to the Wooden POTY Midseason watch list, one of 25 players the Wooden Foundation has zeroed in on this year’s MVP, and one of just four freshmen on the list.

Brandon Miller Notes

Three-time SEC Freshman of the Week honoree

Miller is one of 10 players in Division I, the only player in the SEC and the only freshman in the country that has scored 260 points and recorded 120 rebounds this season

Brandon Miller is averaging 19.1 points per game, the most by any freshman in the country and No. 34 overall

Named to the Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List

Named to the 2023 Julius Erving Award Watch List

2023 Coaches Preseason All-SEC Second Team selection

2023 Media Preseason All-SEC Second Team honoree

As Nate Oats said yesterday, “we’re going to enjoy him for the one year we have him”

Alabama has had four players drafted in head coach Nate Oats’ tenure, including two players taken in the top 14 picks (Kira Lewis in 2020 and Josh Primo in 2021). Herb Jones in 2021 and JD Davison in 2022 were also second-round selections. Oats praised that quartet for being the high-character kids that they were and said Miller “follows in that same suit” this year.

But essentially being a 6-foot-9 combo guard, Miller also separates himself from the pack.

“He’s a great kid with a good personality, works really hard, really cares about his team,” Oats said. “It is nice to have the best player on the floor most nights when you go out, though, as a coach. It makes my job a little bit easier. He can create some offense, make some tough shots when you’re struggling a little bit. We’re gonna enjoy him for the one year we’ve got him. He’s gonna be really good next year in the NBA. He’s been really good for us.”

The No. 7 Alabama Crimson Tide hit the hardwood this Saturday to face its foil, the one team in the country you can fairly say have owned Alabama on a consistent basis: the reeling but dangerous Kentucky Wildcats.

I’d love to see Alabama avenge some of those 20-point Rupp beatdowns...but I’ll settle for a W of any sort.

John Metchie III.

Jameson Williams.

Phil Mathis.

Jalyn Armour-Davis.

Josh Jobe.

Marvin Harrison II.

Now, add TCU’s leading running back, and perhaps the most crucial cog to that offense: injured TCU RB Kendre Miller.

Miller is the homerun hitter for that offense, and has accounted for 1400 yards and 17 scores. That homerun threat on the ground is what makes Duggan dangerous.

Charmed living through injured opponents. The Kirby Smart way since 2021.