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HAPPY GUMP DAY! Alabama Softball poaches its next ace from LSU

And, in the process, it weakens a conference rival.

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Hold this L, Tigers.

We have given Patrick Murphy no end of grief here the last few years weeks about his inability to leverage the Portal to Alabama’s benefit: The Tide have traditionally been the poached — as the last two SEC Players of the Year demonstrated — far too rarely has UA been the poacher. It seems that the program may have finally seen the light, and will not be sleepwalking through another offseason.

For the second time in as many weeks, The Gut has gone to the Quitter Hole and reeled another team’s talent into Tuscaloosa.

Last week, it was Central Arkansas stud Kayla Beaver. This week, it’s a far bigger fish to throw in the hot grease. Murphy went to Baton Rouge and snatched budding star, Alea Johnson, away from LSU to shore up ‘Bama’s rotation.

Johnson was far too talented to be languishing in her role as P3. She was second on the team in ERA allowed (first among rotational starters); second in BA allowed; and first in K/per 7.

If Johnson has any knock on her game (besides an unknown endurance to handle the workload of a true P1 or P2), it’s her command.

There’s no way to sugar coat this one. Those strikeouts come with a price: She’s softball Ricky Vaughn — 11 wild pitches in 45 innings of work over 30 appearances. Alea led the Tigers in that dubious Wild Thing category.

Given how unsteady Alabama was in the circle this year, despite some generally good late season outings by Jaala Torrence, the dropoff from Fouts to everyone else was a crapshoot of the highest order. Alea is a huge addition to the Tide’s roster for next season, and if she blossoms into the ace most think she can be, then it’s an absolute coup by Murph.

Now, if only she could swing a bat...because frankly I still have no idea how even offense-averse Murphball is going to plate runs next year.

In still more good news, Tide closer Alton Davis II is returning for 2024:

He recorded a 1-2 record, as well as a 5.35 earned run average, 34 hits, 32 strikeouts, 20 runs (20 earned), 12 walks, and eight saves.

This season, the freshman was named to Second-Team All-American. Awesome news.

Why did my boo-thing, Julian Sayin, commit to Alabama? (Seriously I love this kid. He’s White Tua).

Because he’s got that dog in him, that’s why:

“My process, it started a little bit early, when I was a freshman. I was getting scholarships and then, I was really looking at, growing up my dream school was always Texas but I really looked at Texas and Alabama kind of came in my sophomore year and I was looking at Alabama and LSU too. So I went out and I visited during my junior season at Alabama. I’ve been there a couple of times before I really liked it. But the trip that really solidified it for me was the trip, I think it was the end of October for my junior year, I went and saw Alabama play Mississippi State and it was a great visit and just seeing the atmosphere out there, it really made me feel at home and I really just had a great time.

The thing with Alabama it’s just the consistency that have there. With Coach Saban he’s gonna hold you the highest standard. You’re going to be coached hard and you’re gonna be, the best thing is brought out of you and then, you know, just the talent that they’re, you’re playing against the best players every day,” said Sayin.

And since we’re on the topic of My Boo-Thing, Julian Sayin, people are raving about his Elite 11 performance — with the chance for Sayin to even be the No. 1 overall recruit as rankings shake out over the year:

“The Elite 11 coaches I spoke to said his arm was stronger than it looked on film,” Feldman wrote. “Another coach said he’s heard people compare him to former Tide star Mac Jones, but he thinks Sayin is more athletic than Jones and has more juice in his arm than Bryce Young had when he was at the Elite 11.”

Feldman also said Sayin reminded him of Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik in how polished a prospect he was. You can read all of Feldman’s Elite 11 thoughts here.

Moving up in the rankings?

Just as Petagna hinted Sayin could be moving up in the 247Sports rankings moving forward, national recruiting director Adam Gorney thinks the same might be true in his next rankings. Sayin is currently rated as Rivals’ No. 4 overall prospect, but Gorney doesn’t think he has necessarily hit his ceiling after the most recent performance.

“So what’s holding us back from making the Alabama five-star quarterback commit the No. 1 player in the class?” Gorney wrote. “Probably nothing but it’s going to be a conversation to be had for the next rankings meeting.”

God, I love this guy.

Speaking of pickups and potential pickups, mark your calendar for 7:00 Central tonight. One of the Tide’s top targets, Jarin Stevenson, is picking his school.

The 6’10”, four-star big out of Pittsboro, North Carolina has narrowed his choices down to Alabama, Virginia, and North Carolina. He’s been seen frequently lurking around the home state Tarheels facility, but that’s no guarantee. It is thought that, though UVA is in the mix, the race really comes down to UNC and ‘Bama. UNC has especially put on the full-court press for Jarin as an integral part of their roster.

And though Stevenson is a 2024 recruit, he is considered a reclassification prospect, and may pursue that route to play in 2023 given the situation at Alabama. UNC has the No. 1 class for 2024, with three open slots. Alabama has two open schollies remaining in 2023, so the P/T is definitely there for him immediately. Meanwhile, UNC already has two blue chip bigs committed for 2023 and beyond. That perhaps militates in the Tide’s favor.

Crystal balls see it that way, too.

Depending on the service, he’s the No. 12 to 22 overall recruit and the 4th overall PF. He’s also been listed as being anywhere from 6’8” to 6’10” and is generously pegged at 190-205 pounds.

He averaged a double-double this past season (22-12), and is an effective rim defender (3.7 BPG), while also shooting a very respectable 36% from the perimeter. Though he has done most of his damage inside the arc, he’s actively working on his wing game to prepare for the next level. But to that end, his ball skills will need to improve if that’s his aspiration. He’s an average handler, even for a big. His defense is pretty good away from the basket for such a lanky guy too. Jarin is a talent, certainly, but there is plenty of room for improvement as well.

Hope for the best.

Texas Back?!

Dan Wetzel at Y! Sports had a hella’ interesting article up last night, half-taunting and half-asking the question: Is Texas actually really ready for the SEC?

Texas Football didn’t need the money — if anything, its got too much. It didn’t need the hype — one good quarter of play spurs declarations of “Texas is Back.” It didn’t need a boost of recruiting credibility — top-five classes are common.

It certainly didn’t need a path to the College Football Playoff — the one it had in the Big 12 was actually easier.

No, Texas (and to a degree Oklahoma) jumped to the SEC because it was bored, because it wanted something new, because, despite a 91-72 record since 2010, it wanted a challenge, the biggest challenge actually.

Well, the Longhorns are about to get their wish.

The SEC released its 2024 schedule Wednesday, the first with no divisions and 16 teams due to the arrival of the Horns and Sooners.

There are more difficult slates — hello, Florida. There are bigger games — would Georgia at Alabama interest anyone?

There may not be a single program in the country, however, that will walk into 2024 with as much of the spotlight, the rivalry venom and the pressure as Texas.

The biggest question to me is whether the Longhorns will enter the SEC with Steve Sarkisian as its head coach. Now in his third year, the ‘Horns are a Preseason Top 10 and loaded at practically every position. Safe to say it’s been a rocky start for Sark. UT was downright uncompetitive in his first season, and despite all that talent last year, the Horns didn’t translate on-field improvement to some dubs in the W/L column. In his brief, turbulent tenure, Texas has been cromulent on the road. 3-8 in his two seasons, with the best finish being third place last year. And if you think that’s bad, Shortie is 2-7 against ranked teams and winless in their lone bowl appearance.

The SEC is very possibly a learning curve that could devour UT, and a conference where only the capricious kindness of schedule-makers might save them. It’s also one that could cost Sark his job — assuming he survives. Another season flirting with .500 will almost assuredly get him his walking papers.

Why exactly is Nick Saban still coaching, after cementing himself as the best to ever do it in major college football?

Because “the chase is better than the capture.”

“That’s the process of what you go through to try to build a team. The process of what you do to try and build individuals to have the culture that they need to be the best versions of themselves, in terms of personal, academic, or athletic.”

“You view the game, because that’s what you cover, and that’s part of it, but the work ethic, the discipline, the pride in performance, those are all things that go into trying to help them grow into the best version of themselves and that carries over into life as well.”

“That’s the part that I enjoy. The whole process of developing young people to have a chance to be successful. It’s kind of like climbing a mountain. It’s a challenge. It’s an individual challenge, and it’s a collective challenge for your team.”

That doesn’t sound like a man that’s ready to ease into retirement, does it?


We’re gonna’ cite this Tide 100.9 report on Jamil Burroughs striking Josh Chapman, which is itself citing RBR, for the proposition that it actually happened.

Roll ‘Damn Show Your Work.

Seriously, though. I have no idea if what is being floated around is true. Though, I suspect Josh’s prognosis on Tuesday was correct, even if the pertinents are unclear at the moment: he’s not been kicked off the team yet, so Mr. Burroughs will have a summer of conditioning, and a serious case of red ass, to motivate him by the time Fall rolls around.

Dude, seriously. Who takes a swing at Josh Chapman?! That’s not just a business decision, that’s just a poor decision, period: and one with a chance of mortal peril.

NCAA Football: Alabama at LSU
Pictured: A poor life decision
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Look at all that happy Gumping today! Have a great one. We’ll be back later with our defensive coaching recap and defense final, enjoy all this good news for now.


Will Steve Sarkisian be coaching the Longhorns when they enter SEC play in 2024?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Nope. He is what he is: elite coordinator, meh head coach. Meh won’t cut it at Texas, and certainly not in the SEC
    (86 votes)
  • 38%
    Yes. This is the year the Horns turn it around and become the Top 10 team many project them to be.
    (146 votes)
  • 38%
    I dunno. Does Texas even play football anymore? Alabama broke that team for good in the Rose Bowl.
    (145 votes)
377 votes total Vote Now