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Jumbo Package: Saban pleased with QBs, WR Malik Benson makes waves

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Austin Peay v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. It was another mixed weekend on the diamond, as softball took two of three from South Carolina while baseball dropped two of three to a beatable Mississippi State squad. We don’t report enough on track and field, but they took home six event titles and 17 top ten finishes at the Joe Walker invite, in Oxford. The men’s team is doing particularly well, currently ranked in the top ten nationally as a group.

We got a bit of basketball news on Saturday when Mark Sears announced his intention to declare for the NBA Draft while maintaining his college eligibility. Odds are good that Nate Oats will get Mark back for another season, but he’s doing his due diligence.

in football news, the Tide held the first spring scrimmage on Friday. Quite a few young players are reportedly doing well, and Malik Benson is looking like a star.

“Benson’s had a really, really good spring and is capable of stretching the field and making big plays,” Saban said Friday. “Good all-around player. He certainly is going to help us.”

The fact Benson was catching passes from Young during the Alabama pro day in March is worth noting. Benson hasn’t even played for Alabama yet.

Teammates have also spoken well of him. Junior receiver Ja’Corey Brooks said he’s been loving Benson’s energy. Cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry said Benson has been competitive and knows what he’s doing.

“He’s working very hard to be a great player for us,” McKinstry said.

Veteran recruiting analyst Charles Power said this about Benson over the winter:

A standout for Hutchinson C.C. in Kansas, Benson has an argument as the top junior college receiver prospect in years. We’ve seen several receivers from the JUCO ranks make big impacts in college football and the NFL, including Tyreek Hill, Brandon Aiyuk and Michael Gallup. Given what he’s shown in two seasons at Hutchinson, Benson could be next in line.

Benson was highly-recruited, taking official visits to Oregon, LSU, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama in June prior committing to the Crimson Tide in July.

Of course, everyone has their eyes on the QB race. Saban said that both players are doing well, and Tony Tsoukalas had this nugget that he shared publicly, though his article is behind a paywall.

That is encouraging.

The offensive line may well feature both Darrian Dalcourt and Seth McLaughlin.

As a blue-chip recruit out of Saint Frances (Md.) Academy, Dalcourt was actually listed as the country’s 11th-best offensive guard for the 2019 cycle, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. But in his previous four years at Alabama, he has only practiced as a center.

He discussed the spring experimentation at an unfamiliar position.

“It’s my first time playing guard,” Dalcourt said. “Of course, it comes with learning, it comes with mistakes, but you learn from those mistakes. It does nothing but add versatility to me and also the offensive line. Whatever I can do, whatever we can do as an offensive line to become the best unit we can, I think we’re all going to do it.”

If Dalcourt and McLaughlin both win jobs, then 4/5 of the OL will have starting experience. Early reports are that Elijah Pritchett is leading at the other tackle spot. Pritchett was the nation’s 5th-ranked OT in the 2022 recruiting cycle and at this stage appears to be a key reason that Tommy Brockermeyer transferred out.

Hugh Freeze wants to scrimmage smaller in-state teams in the spring and Nick commented on the idea.

And after coaches from both Troy and UAB − two of Freeze’s suggestions for opponents to face Alabama and Auburn − expressed support for the idea, Alabama’s Nick Saban weighed in on Friday.

“I didn’t know anything about that, (but) we’re always interested in helping people any way that we can. If that’s the purpose of what they’re doing, that’s certainly a good thing,” Saban said Friday following Alabama’s first scrimmage of the spring. “We try to do a lot of things to create opportunities for people in our foundation and we’ll continue to do that. If there’s something we could do along those lines in the spring game that would be helpful to somebody, I think it’s a great idea.”

You can check out all of Saban’s comments below, or read Mike Rodak’s transcript. Overall, he seems pleased with the progress.

in NFL news, JC Hassenauer has been reunited with Brian Daboll in New York.

Hassenauer, 6-2 and 295 pounds, originally entered the league with the Falcons as an undrafted prospect out of Alabama in 2018. The following year, he joined Pittsburgh, where he played all 45 of his career games. He made seven starts with the Steelers – five at center and two at left guard. Hassenauer, who played in all 17 games last season, has also appeared in two postseason contests and made one start at center.

The Lions are very excited to enter the season with a healthy Jameson Williams.

“What happened when the ball got in his hands last year?” Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said on the “Twentyman in the Huddle” podcast. “Explosion. And so we see it, you see it, everyone sees it. It’s there.

“Consistency, that’s really the name of the game. We’ve had some great conversations with Jame-o even since the season ended. I know his mind’s going to be right when he gets back in there in the springtime. He’s really looking forward to taking that next step as a player and really making a big impact on this league.”

Last, we’ll visit the “you hate to see it” department.

The NCAA labeled Tennessee’s failure to monitor as “substantial” and said this “seriously undermined or threatened the integrity” of college sports.

Tennessee’s inability to negotiate an acceptable resolution with the NCAA, its old partner, makes me wonder how severe the penalties could be and whether those penalties might include a postseason ban after Tennessee brazenly opted to not self-impose a bowl ban in 2021.

Makes me wonder if the NCAA was unmoved by UT’s self-imposed sanctions that included recruiting restrictions and a reduction of 12 scholarships for the 2021 season.

Makes me wonder if UT was foolish to invite NCAA suits to have an uninhibited look under its hood and meticulously document the mess that had occurred underneath.

Makes me continue to question Tennessee’s decision to not fire Phillip Fulmer.

Give ‘em the death penalty, Charlie. Let ‘em know there’s a new sheriff in town and ruin whatever legacy remains of that doughnut addicted blob of excrement.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.