Alabama Crimson Tide: SEC

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 27, 2014
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Less than two weeks remain until national signing day, and this was the second-to-last official visit weekend before Feb. 5. There were a couple of big decommitments, a few commitments and several key official visits. Here’s a closer look at all the latest recruiting news around the SEC.


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Podcast: Talking Tide, Aggies and more

August, 13, 2013
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In the latest edition of the ESPNU College Football podcast, ESPN.com senior writer Ivan Maisel visits with SEC Bloggers Chris Low and Edward Aschoff about several topics, including the quarterback situation at Auburn, the importance of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and the the latest surrounding Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Click here for the podcast.


With national signing day 2015 still a year and a half away, Alabama continued its recruiting roll, especially among quarterbacks, as No. 2 junior pocket passer (and No. 42 overall recruit) Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./Saint Bonaventure) committed to Alabama on Monday.


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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The viewing public wants it, the league commissioner wants it and frankly it's good for the health of the sport as a whole. SEC schools need to improve their nonconference schedules and remove all doubt about any supposed lack of strength of schedule.

With that in mind, TideNation takes a look at 10 nonconference opponents we'd like to see on Alabama's schedule:

Boise State
Last Meeting: N/A

Who wouldn't want to see college football's David vs. Goliath? For the past decade we've watched as Boise State has won game after game on its blue turf, reaching bowl games in the process. And each year we've heard college football fans complain about their schedule. Well, why not change that? Why not put a super power like Alabama on the docket and prove once and for all whether the Smurf turf is anything more than a parlor trick?


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ESPN Watch List defensive back Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne) understands that the SEC has some of the most talented defensive backs in the country. Of his 23 offers, eight come from the conference that has won every BCS national championship game since 2007.


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DeMarcus Walker wavering? 

December, 30, 2012
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Four-star defensive end DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) will take an unofficial visit to Florida this upcoming weekend.

The 6-foot-4, 271-pound ESPN 150 member has been committed to Alabama since Aug. 24, but Walker said taking a trip to Florida has been on his mind for a while.

"It's just been on my mind for a long time," Walker said. "Even though I've already taken a 1,000 visits, I'll just take another one."

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The players filtered in and out, the coaches too. The football office on the University of Alabama campus was quietly buzzing as ESPN cameras documented it all on the Wednesday leading into Alabama-LSU, the primetime showdown Saturday night between two teams ranked in the top five of the BCS Standings.

The hype of the game wasn't a deterrent to the day's events, though. For players and coaches, it was more of the same: Work out, watch film, practice. Rinse, repeat.

Alabama hasn't gotten to No. 1 in the country by letting the pressure get to it. What's at stake goes without saying.

"Everybody knows the ramifications of the game," coach Nick Saban told ESPN's Samantha Steele.

The goal: stay the same, play the same. Saban doesn't want anxious players coming out of the tunnel in Death Valley on Saturday night. The environment there is capable of eating players alive if they're not prepared.

But how do you know when your players are ready? How do you know they're focused?

(Read full post)

Inside the program: Kirby Smart

October, 31, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Kirby Smart came in with scruff on his face that looked less like a 5 o'clock shadow and more like a day-after cover. In fact, it was only midday on the University of Alabama campus and the Crimson Tide's defensive coordinator was in a hurry.

It's LSU week in the football offices and Smart has his work cut out for him. His young defense has been the best in the country this season, coming in first in all four major defensive categories, but on Saturday it will face a top-5 team that knows its strength: power football.

"They really run the ball well," Smart told ESPN's Samantha Steele. "You have to stop them."

Even when they do get bogged down, the Tigers don't give up.

"They're stubborn with the run and that's toughest to defend," Smart continued.

Alabama has the bodies to match up with LSU up front. Smart said that despite losing three-quarters of his starters from a year ago, he feels UA has more depth on the line, and possibly less in the secondary. When you're going up against a team with a sometimes shaky starter in Zach Mettenberger and a consistently bruising rushing attack, that's a good thing. Not that Smart is sleeping on the passing game.

"Zach throws a good deep ball," Smart explained. The lanky quarterback who transferred to LSU from Georgia has thrown for 1,419 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions this season.

Starting cornerbacks Dee Milliner and Deion Belue will be tasked with defending LSU's weapons on the outside. Milliner leads the country in passes defended, a stat that combines pass breakups with interceptions. Belue hasn't been much easier to throw on either. The junior college transfer stepped in as the starter opposite Milliner right away.

LSU coach Les Miles told ESPN on Tuesday that his team will have to throw the ball against Alabama, something the secondary is prepared for.

“We know they are going to run the ball and take shots down the field," UA safety Robert Lester said. The senior from southern Alabama has gone back-to-back weeks with an interception, his last coming in the end zone against then-undefeated Mississippi State. "As long as we’re prepared for it and we know at least something that is coming, I think we’ll be good.”

Lester is one of the few returning starters from a year ago. Smart and head coach Nick Saban had to rebuild Alabama's defense this offseason, incorporating first-time starters such as Milliner and Belue, as well as sophomores such as Trey DePriest and Vinnie Sunseri who starred on special teams last season.

Smart said he's seen a more hungry, more coachable group of players this season. The latter might contribute to the scruffy beard.

"There's a lot of work, a lot of effort," Smart explained.

In Baton Rouge, the Crimson Tide will need all the effort they can muster. Only one team will leave Death Valley on the fast track to the SEC Championship Game, and the defense is likely to be the difference in who comes out on top.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- At the University of Alabama, Goliath feels more like David. The team with the undisputed No. 1 defense in the country has a pair of stars playing with a chip on their shoulders.

"All we heard all summer is we wouldn't be good enough," UA linebacker Nico Johnson told ESPN's Samantha Steele.

Johnson said he didn't feel like the defense got the respect they deserved after losing seven starters to the NFL over the offseason. Those who returned came back during spring and fall practice ready to work hard to prove the doubters wrong, incorporating rookies like Deion Belue at cornerback, Xzavier Dickson at Jack linebacker and Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix at safety.

The transition, by all accounts, has been seamless. UA is No. 1 in the country in all four major defensive categories, giving up less than 9 points per game. In fact, the defense has actually gotten better at creating more big plays, coming in this week on pace to surpass last year's number of interceptions, fumble recoveries and sacks.

But there's a standard Alabama's defense is living up to, said fellow linebacker C.J. Mosley. The standard isn't about statistics or standings. It's about blocking out the hype and getting better every week. With LSU on tap Saturday, the challenge is bigger than ever. The Tigers have a physical running game unlike anything the Tide has seen this season.

"We know what kind of game it's going to be," Mosley told Steele.

Johnson said the defense is preparing as it does for every game: "Like it's our last."

Two years ago, LSU beat Alabama with a late touchdown in Baton Rouge. That season, Alabama fell to South Carolina and Auburn in dramatic fashion as well. Johnson said he felt like the defense let them down then and he's not ready for a repeat this season.

"We feel like this year we can't let that happen," Johnson said.
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MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- Five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) will take an unofficial visit to Florida for its game against South Carolina on Saturday. For the 6-foot-6, 295-pound No. 1-ranked offensive lineman in the country, this will be his second visit to Gainesville in the last three weeks.

Tunsil, who visited Florida for its game against LSU, said he enjoyed his trip to the Swamp.

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2014 LB Kain Daub opening things up? 

October, 10, 2012
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN Watch List inside linebacker Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) will likely be one of the top linebackers in the country next year. After the 6-foot-3, 227-pound athlete committed to LSU on July 14, he shut down his recruitment. But now he is thinking about opening things back up.

"My LSU commit is still pretty solid, but I think I'm going to open up the doors up again," Daub said. "Anything could happen, there could be a coaching change and I just want something to fall back on and not just close all doors just because I committed to LSU."

[+] EnlargeKain Daub
Courtesy of Jeff Barlis, GatorNationLinebacker Kain Daub could be one of the top defensive prospects in the class of 2014.
Daub recently transferred from Ponte Vedra (Fla.) Nease to Sandalwood High School and is now playing alongside Alabama defensive end commit DeMarcus Walker. Daub, who has more than 15 offers, said Walker continually tries to get him to switch to Alabama.

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New Bama commit Henry has big night 

September, 29, 2012
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YULEE, Fla. -- After committing to the Alabama Crimson Tide earlier in the day, four-star running back Derrick Henry capped off his exciting day by helping his Yulee (Fla.) team defeat Kelvin Taylor and his Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Day team 42-6 on Friday night. The 6-foot-3, 243-pound Henry rushed for 362 yards and six touchdowns on 35 carries.

Henry has amassed 864 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns over the last two weeks and now has 1,753 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns in only five games this season. He has totaled 9,617 rushing yards in his career and is on pace to break Ken Hall's (Sugarland, Texas) national career rushing record of 11,232 yards. If he continues his current pace, Henry will finish the regular season wih 3,506 rushing yards and 48 touchdowns.

In addition to the career rushing record, Henry has his sights set on yet another rushing record. Former NFL player Travis Henry (Frostproof, Fla./Frostproof) holds the single-season rushing record in Florida with 4,087 yards in 14 games. If Yulee (4-1) makes a playoff run, Derrick Henry has a good chance at breaking Travis Henry's record.

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ESPN 300 WR Taj Williams has top three 

September, 12, 2012
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ESPN 300 wide receiver Taj Williams (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln) on Wednesday named a top three of Florida State, Alabama and South Carolina. The 6-foot-4, 178-pound four-star athlete will be at Florida State this weekend to watch the Seminoles take on Wake Forest.

"My top three schools right now are South Carolina, Alabama and Florida State," Williams said. "With Florida State, it's right here at home, it's a great place and I'm actually going to visit there this weekend for the game against Wake Forest.

"With Alabama, I've been there a few times, I went to a camp there this summer. I feel comfortable there. I just really like Alabama and what they have to offer. At South Carolina, I really like the coaches. I haven't been there yet, but I definitely plan on taking an official visit there sometime this season. I'll officially visit all three schools, I just don't know the dates yet."

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Derrick Henry sets decision date 

August, 31, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- On a record-breaking night, ESPN 150 athlete Derrick Henry (Yulee, Fla./Yulee) has set his announcement date to choose between Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.

Derrick Henry
Derek Tyson/ESPN.comDerrick Henry will announce his college decision on Sept. 28 and one team still remains out in front.
In a 51-28 loss to Gainesville High School Thursday night, Henry rushed for 336 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries. Henry broke former Jacksonville (Fla.) University Christian star Willie McClendon's streak of 33 consecutive 100-yard rushing games from 1985-87. Henry has still never rushed for under the century mark in his high school career.

At 8,200 career rushing yards, Henry moves in to third place on the state of Florida's all-time career rushing list, trailing only Emmitt Smith and Florida running back commit Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glades, Fla./Glades Day).

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The impact that Texas A&M's membership in the SEC has had on recruiting is noticeable. The Aggies currently have a whopping 27 commitments in their 2013 recruiting class even though fall practice hasn't even started for Texas high schools. Many of the Aggies’ commitments have said that the SEC membership is among the top reasons they chose Texas A&M.


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