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Jumbo Package: Kalen DeBoer continues to deal with portal exodus

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Syndication: Tuscaloosa News Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA TODAY NETWORK

Happy Friday, everyone. Sorry for the late JP, real life got in the way. As you already know, Alabama got a new QB commit, and lost one.

The 6-foot-6, 226 pounder heads to Alabama with four seasons of eligibility remaining after redshirting during his lone season at Washington. He did not see any playing time for the Huskies during their run to a College Football Playoff National Championship appearance.

Mack was initially a member of the 2024 cycle before reclassifying and graduating a year early from Folsom (California) High School. Mack led Folsom to 12 wins and CIF Sacramento Division 1 championship in 2022, passing for 3,498 yards and 40 touchdowns.

Mack is the first player — transfer or high school prospect — to commit to Alabama since DeBoer took over as coach on Jan. 12.

Alabama freshman Julian Sayin, the top-ranked quarterback in the Class of 2024, intends to enter the NCAA transfer portal, sources told ESPN. Sayin is expected to initiate the transfer process Friday, sources said.

Sayin is the highest-ranked offensive player in the 2024 ESPN 300, as he is No. 3 overall and was one of the marquee players in Alabama’s recruiting class. Sayin enrolled early at Alabama, and his first day of classes earlier this month coincided with the announcement of coach Nick Saban’s retirement.

Take it for what it’s worth, but the staff at the Alabama sites on both 247 and On3 seem to believe that DeBoer knew he’d lose Sayin if he took Mack, and did so anyway. Mack was a guy who reclassified to sign with Washington last year, and they clearly love his game. If they did essentially choose him over Sayin, that may well be a tenure defining decision for better or worse.

I know nothing about Mack, but his high school stats are awesome and his highlights look good. I am especially impressed with his quick release at 6’6” tall. Those dudes usually have long windups that can cause problems.

Brandon Marcello notes that Alabama will have their portal shopping days after spring practice.

“The real people being punished are the teams Alabama steals people from after spring ball because they cannot replace those kids,” a Big 12 head coach predicted. “We’ll be screwed.”

Yes, perhaps there will be more unintended consequences from this makeshift system. Or maybe coaches are worrying themselves into a stupor, creating problems before they exist. Either way, only the hungriest recruiters and most creative coaches survive. It’s why Saban was the best. He was advantageous, and his creativity in finding loopholes made him the sport’s leader for 17 years.

He adapted. He had foresight. He developed solutions for problems that did not yet exist.

Speaking of which, what is next?

“What happens to Michigan if [Jim Harbaugh] leaves?” one ACC head coach pondered. “We have messed up the sport and we’re teaching these kids the wrong thing.”

Yeah, it’s enough to make a coach go insane.

Or retire to Jupiter Island.

Great stuff here on what Nick Saban meant to his guys.

Cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry noticed Saban jogged “everywhere he goes.” Saban still stretched with the team at the start of every practice. Each game day, Saban guided the Tide out of the tunnel and onto the sideline.

“Coach Saban, he’s still in his youth a little bit. He jokes and stuff. His connection with us. I feel like he’s truly trying to connect with us, just being our team, listening to us more, just seeing what we feel like. He actually, like, listens. He tells us stuff, then he listens to what we want from him, what we want to see,” said senior running back Jase McClellan.

Last, Michael Casagrande wrote a pretty candid piece about covering Nick Saban through the years. Nick didn’t make it easy on him.

He can be as mad as he wants, and hate me if he’d like, but I have a job to do and that won’t change. Try as I might, the negativity was often hard to find when Saban was cooking. I covered 19 Alabama games before writing about a loss. It was exciting to do something different for a change that 2010 afternoon at South Carolina.

At times, it was like covering the assembly line at the Mercedes plant because the storyline varied little from year to year. There were perks. Four trips to New York to cover Heisman ceremonies. Championship games on both coasts, New Orleans, Indy and a few other places.

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

Roll Tide.