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Jumbo Package: Is Jeremy Pruitt in Nick Saban’s plans despite the hire of Kevin Steele?

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Alabama basketball moved up one spot in the AP poll following two more double digit SEC wins, and is now ranked no. 3 behind Purdue and a Houston team that the Tide blasted on the road. The coaches also have the Tide pegged as the third-best team currently.

Not much out there for football news other than the transition to Alabama’s new coordinators, and Lane Kiffin weighed in yesterday on some of the handwringing.

That’s a bit of a stretch since all of the players in the class signed before Bill O’Brien and Pete Golding had resigned, but he’s not wrong that folks need to relax. This class appears to have some potential fixes for key personnel issues from last season’s defense, particularly in the secondary with Caleb Downs, Desmond Ricks and Jahlil Hurley who all ranked as top 50 overall prospects on the 247 Composite. Those personnel issues are far more critical than the dude in the headset.

Five-star OT Kadyn Proctor has a great chance to step into the role vacated by Tyler Steen (or replace JC Latham at RT as Latham flips to the left side), and if he’s in the Cam Robinson/Jonah Williams/Evan Neal/Jedrick Wills class as a true freshman in terms of readiness, then the offensive line should solidify quickly.

Shoring up those two areas would go a long way toward easing the coordinators, and the new QB whoever it may be, into their roles.

Chase Goodbread profiled the long career of new and returning Alabama DC Kevin Steele.

It should come as no surprise that Steele found working for Saban, once again, appealing. He enters knowing every expectation, and there’s not a more stable program in the college game. That matters more to a coach who will turn 65 next month and, from a stability standpoint, hasn’t been very lucky of late. Steele’s been an interim coach at two different SEC schools in the last three years. He took over for a fired Gus Malzahn at Auburn only to be unretained by Bryan Harsin, then signed on with then-Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt, only to be named UT’s interim coach just a few days into the job when Pruitt was fired for cause. Unretained by Josh Heupel, he then joined Mario Cristobal’s first staff at Miami last year, where he inherited a roster that had been utterly decimated under previous coach Manny Diaz.

Steele wasn’t a sexy hire but he certainly isn’t going to hurt you in the role with his knowledge of not only Saban’s scheme, but his experience level in general. There was one particular and obvious name that many Alabama fans would have preferred, and Tony Tsoukalas over at Rivals dropped an interesting nugget yesterday about him.

Tide Illustrated understands that Pruitt was Nick Saban’s top candidate to lead the defense. However, hiring him proved too complicated due to the 18 level 1 violations the NCAA has alleged against him. According to sources, Alabama will still look to hire Pruitt as a defensive analyst with the intention of moving him to the defensive coordinator role once his situation with the NCAA clears up.

Steele and Pruitt share a solid relationship and have worked together on Saban’s staff at Alabama on two different occasions. Steele, 64, has served nine years as a coach in the state of Alabama. Following his 10th year this season, he will become partially vested which would result in significant retirement benefits.

We have no way of knowing the reliability of Tony’s source here, but it makes some sense. Pruitt is obviously an Alabama lifer and Saban protege who would probably never leave the role if given a second chance. If the NCAA stuff has a chance to be less severe than it looks, then a stopgap solution seems like a decent idea.

There were also rumblings that other candidates weren’t willing to agree to such an arrangement. Todd Grantham reportedly interviewed last week. Might he have been offered the “stopgap” role before Steele and decided to leave town instead?

There are a few moves occurring behind the scenes, too. Defensive analyst Dave Huxtable, a former Power 5 defensive coordinator, is leaving for a job with the Atlanta Falcons, FootballScoop reported Monday.

Huxtable had been at Alabama the past two seasons after leading defenses at NC State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

Alabama lost another analyst and longtime DC, Todd Grantham, to the New Orleans Saints last week.

This is the silly season, so who knows? Makes for good discussion fodder either way.

Last, Alabama lost a 2024 TE commit yesterday.

Alabama football’s recruiting class of 2024 dropped to four commits when four-star Georgia athlete Martavious Collins decommitted Monday.

Collins, 6-foot-3 and 241 pounds, had been committed to Alabama since July 20 last summer, when he picked Alabama over Ohio State, Notre Dame, Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina and others.

This is why we don’t tend to waste much effort reporting about commitments other than the current recruiting class. There is a lot of time between July of 2022 and December of 2024 for a young fellow to change his mind. For what it’s worth, Andrew Bone reports that he doesn’t expect Alabama to continue recruiting Bryant so this may have been one of those “mutual” deals.

That’s about it for now. Have a great day.

Roll Tide.