Crimson Tide Extra by Marq_Burnett
A source for full coverage of Alabama athletics.
Aug 05, 2013 | 83181 views |  0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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D.J. Pettway says he's grateful to return to Alabama
by Marq_Burnett
Feb 06, 2014 | 1065 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
TUSCALOOSA -- D.J. Pettway’s message to Nick Saban was clear upon his return to Alabama.

“That I always wanted to be here and I’d do anything to come back and I thank him for letting me come back,” the Tide defensive lineman said Wednesday in his first meeting with reporters since returning to Tuscaloosa.

Pettway was dismissed from the Crimson Tide football team following an arrest in February 2013. He spent this past season at East Mississippi Community College.

The University of Alabama allowed him to return to school, and he is one of eight players in the Tide’s 2014 recruiting class who enrolled in January.

On Wednesday, he used every positive adjective that came to mind when describing his emotions.

“Surprised. Excited. Humbled. Eager. Everything and anything you could think of,” Pettway said. “I was just ready. I always wanted to be here. It was my first love, University of Alabama, since high school. I loved it when I was here and I’m glad I’m able to get back.”

Pettway is the No. 3 junior college strongside defensive end prospect nationally, according to 247Sports Composite rankings. Pettway had 47 tackles, including 11.5 sacks last season and was named a junior college All-American. He is a versatile player who can play defensive end and linebacker with a specialty in rushing the passer.

As a redshirt freshman in 2012, he saw time in 12 games and had seven tackles, including three tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. With prior knowledge of the playbook, he’ll be expected to be an early contributor on defense.

Pettway said the contact between Alabama’s staff and his coaches at EMCC began in November. He said wasn’t able to communicate with the staff much, but said his conversations with Saban have gone well since returning.

“We just pretty much talked about staying on the right track,” Pettway said. “I guess (Saban) knew I had been through a lot or whatever and just wanted to make sure I was ready this time or I was focused enough to come back.”

So what did Pettway learn from his situation?

“I learned how to be more courageous,” he said. “If I see anything or if I’m around anything bad happening around me, I’m willing to stop it or step forward. I’m willing to be the man that makes a change. I’m willing to help anyone around here – any of my teammates. I learned just to be more positive, be more grateful.”

Thankful for a second chance, Pettway said it’s “awesome” to be a part of the 2014 class.

“The 2011 class was real nice, too,” he said, referring to his original signing class at Alabama. “I love all those guys and I like these guys, too. They’re a real good bunch. They work hard. They have their head on right, they go to school like they’re supposed to, and it’s pretty cool to be around them.” 

12 Alabama players receive NFL Combine invites
by Marq_Burnett
Feb 06, 2014 | 496 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama will have an event-high 12 players at this year’s NFL Combine, according to multiple reports.

A total of 335 players were invited to the combine, which begins Feb. 19 in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Crimson Tide sent 10 players to last year’s combine.

Leading the way are departing seniors quarterback AJ McCarron and linebacker C.J. Mosley. Along with them are wide receiver Kevin Norwood, guard Anthony Steen, defensive end Ed Stinson, cornerback Deion Belue and punter Cody Mandell.

All of the underclassmen who entered the draft received an invitation -- offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, linebacker Adrian Hubbard, defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan and safety Vinnie Sunseri.

Three former Alabama players are projected to be taken in the first round of the draft -- Mosley, Clinton-Dix and Kouandjio.


Alabama signs nation's top class, makes biggest splash on National Signing Day
by Marq_Burnett
Feb 06, 2014 | 553 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
TUSCALOOSA -- Around this time last year, as Nick Saban prepared to recap the 2013 National Signing Day, he was already looking ahead to 2014.

At the time, many laughed it off as Saban being Saban, but it turned out to be foreshadowing. 

That laser focus, among other things, helped the Crimson Tide clinch its fourth straight No. 1 recruiting class, according to Rivals.com.

So Saban’s beaming smile from ear to ear Wednesday showed signs of both happiness and a sense of relief as another stellar class was signed, sealed and delivered with 19 prospects heading to Tuscaloosa in the summer to join the eight who began classes in January.

“The biggest thing is this day is really an accumulation of a lot of hard work and a lot of time spent by a whole bunch of people,” Saban said Wednesday. “We recruit as a team here. A lot of people make a great contribution to that team.”

ESPN, 247Sports, Rivals.com and Scout ranked the Tide’s class as the best by a significant margin.

Heading into signing day, the Tide’s class was pretty much intact. Alabama maintained every commitment except one of what already was rated as the nation’s consensus best class by the recruiting services.

Even so, Alabama made the biggest splash of the day with Auburn High five-star linebacker Rashaan Evans picking the Tide over hometown Auburn University. Both of Evans’ parents attended Auburn. He grew up in Auburn and was long considered an Auburn lean.

“I really don’t think it makes a lot of difference where a guy’s from,” Saban said. “What we try to focus on here is the opportunity that a young man has here, and sometimes guys are just a little better fit for what they’re looking for, maybe what the critical factors of development that they might have through their college career and how they can contribute in a program that makes one place a little better than the other.”

The Tide’s reach stretched across 15 states. By position, the Tide added six offensive linemen, six defensive linemen, four defensive backs, four linebackers, two quarterbacks, two wide receivers, one athlete, one tight end and one punter.

“The important thing to have in this kind of recruiting class, which we feel sort of satisfies the needs we have,” Saban said. “I'm sure that every coach that stands up here today and talks about their recruiting class, I've never heard anybody say they've had a bad class. I've never heard anybody not say they didn't identify their needs. So I'm going to say the same thing.”

On paper, this class meets every need. Alabama’s offensive line was inconsistent in 2013, so the Tide added the nation’s top prep offensive tackle, the top two centers and the top junior college offensive tackle.

Alabama was never able to settle on a second cornerback last season, so the Tide signed two of the nation’s best cornerbacks, both of whom have track speed.

Alabama lost its three-year starting quarterback in AJ McCarron, so the Tide signed a transfer from Florida State (Jacob Coker) and one of the top prep pocket passers (David Cornwell of Oklahoma). Alabama’s pass rush was inconsistent, and the defensive line lost two starters. So the Tide brought in the nation’s top strongside defensive end and two junior prospect with the ability to contribute early. Oh, and don’t forget the punter who'll compete to replace the graduated starter.

“We thought we needed linemen on both sides of the ball. We felt we were a little thin last year in both of those areas,” Saban said. “Quarterback, obviously, is a critical position in any program, and we're very excited about the two young men we have coming in to those positions. We were thin in the secondary last year. We felt like we got some really good players at that position. One of the goals we have was to get a little more fast-twitch, quicker body type guys to play on the edges for us.

“We're playing against a lot more spread. I feel between the outside backer types we got as well as some of the more athletic kind of defensive ends we got that maybe we satisfied that need as well. We also needed a punter and we feel good about the punter we were able to attract in this class.”

For the players, it was all about being a part of a great class.

“It’s amazing. You look at this class and what we’ve done,” said Cornwell, one of eight early enrollees. “(We were) just in there talking about it. I didn’t know how elite it was. All our hard work has come down to this. Coaches have done a great job; really taught some of the recruits how to go out and do it ourselves. Really appreciate that from the coaches. Great experience.”

With that experience, a common goal of winning championships has developed.

“We’re a real close class. Everybody pretty much already knew each other,” said early enrollee Shaun Dion Hamilton, a linebacker. “A lot of recruits took their officials in January so we did a lot of hanging out that weekend. We’re a real close class and we plan on winning a lot of championships.”

While some analysts are naming Alabama’s recruiting haul the best since the modern rankings began, Saban won’t join that argument. But he did say his 2008 class that was ranked No. 1 nationally that year by Rivals is special to him. It helped produce three national titles.

“I can tell you now that you can take that class and say how many guys got drafted, how many guys had great careers,” he said. “They actually all proved that they were a great recruiting class. They had great team success here, won a national championship, and came here when this was not the sexy place to be. We were 7-6.

“So I guess that class is the one that’s closest to my heart, all right, because those guys bought in when they just believed that we were going to be able to be successful and they could make a great contribution to helping us be successful. That class really did.

“And I’m not making any comparisons to any classes, but I really do feel that the character of this class, as well as the ability of this class, I think I’m very pleased with. I will say that.”


Five-star athlete Bo Scarbrough officially signs with Alabama
by Marq_Burnett
Feb 05, 2014 | 830 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Five-star athlete Bo Scarbrough signs with Alabama. (Photo by Marq Burnett/Anniston Star)
Five-star athlete Bo Scarbrough signs with Alabama. (Photo by Marq Burnett/Anniston Star)
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NORTHPORT, Ala. -- When Bo Scarbrough signed his name on the dotted line, a weight was lifted from his shoulders and a long journey slowly came to an end.

In the past year, Scarbrough has attended three different high schools: from Northridge to Tuscaloosa County to IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) and back to Tuscaloosa County in January to finish high school.

But on Wednesday, he finally found the place he wants to call home for the next three to five years, officially joining Alabama’s No. 1 recruiting class for the 2014 cycle.

“You only get one time in your life to do this,” Scarbrough said, “and I choose to keep my talents in Tuscaloosa.”

With family, friends and media around, Scarbrough signed his national letter of intent for the Crimson Tide at Clark’s Sports Pub and Grille in Northport.

“First of all, I’d like to thank God,” Donetris Scarbrough, Bo’s mother said. “Second of all, it’s been a long process. It was fun going down different roads and taking different trips, but at the end of the day we’re roll tide.”

Scarbrough was the Tide’s first commitment for its 2014 class, pledging back in September of 2012. But down the stretch, Scarbrough said he thought about looking elsewhere.

Among others, Ole Miss and Florida State both tugged at him hard and he took visits to multiple schools. But ultimately, home field advantage won out.

“I thought about it, but once you try to leave a place and your heart tells you it’s where you need to be, that’s where you need to be,” he said. “It was very important to me because you’re not far away from home and you can always get to your family and you can always see your mom and they can always see you play.

“By staying in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, it was a very great choice.”

His mother agreed.

“I’m super excited, glad to have him back home” Donetris said. “It was his decision. At the end of the day, I just want him to be comfortable wherever he goes and have everyone support him. I look forward to the future.”

Scarbrough is one of six five-stars in the Tide’s class. Scarbrough has the ability to play multiple positions and is ranked as the nation’s No. 2 athlete, according to 247Sports Composite rankings.

“From coach (Nick) Saban’s standpoint, he told me that I’ll play running back,” Scarbrough said.

Scarbrough rushed for 1,118 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior at IMG Academy and said he feels most comfortable at running back.

But what about the Tide’s never ending depth at running back? Scarbrough said he doesn’t care how many guys are there because “it’s all about competition.”

“I think I bring a lot to the table,” Scarbrough said. “I can be a (feature) player for that offense. I can play wide receiver. I can play tight end. I can play running back. As long as it’s on the offensive side, I can do it.”

Scarbrough said he improved as a player and a teammate while at IMG Academy.

“(I improved) my running style and being able to study a playbook the size of a textbook,” he said. “Being able to get along with people from other countries. There was rarely people there from the U.S. There were people from all over the place and you have to know how to communicate.”

Still, there is a lot of work for Scarbrough to do academically before enrolling at Alabama.

When asked about his academic status, he said “we’re still working on it,” but confirmed that he expects to qualify. He said he is currently taking a full course load at Tuscaloosa County High.

Updates for Alabama's 2014 National Signing Day
by Marq_Burnett
Feb 05, 2014 | 552 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama already had eight players from its 2014 class enrolled in classes before National Signing Day kicked off. The Crimson Tide signed 19 more players on Wednesday to bring its total to 27.  



Name
: Bo Scarbrough

 

Height/Weight: 6-2/225

Position: Running back/Athlete

High School/Hometown: IMG Academy and Tuscaloosa County High (Tuscaloosa Ala.)

Recruited by: Burton Burns, Lane Kiffin

247Sports Composite Ranking: Scarbrough is a five-star prospect. He is the No. 2 athlete in the nation.

Potential Impact: Scarbrough has the ability to play running back, wide receiver and H-back. Scarbrough said Tide coach Nick Saban will play him at running back.

Name: Rashaan Evans

Height/Weight: 6-3/220

Position: Outside linebacker

High School/Hometown: Auburn (Ala.)

Recruited by: Kirby Smart, Lance Thompson

247Sports Composite Ranking: Evans is a five-star prospect. He is the nation’s top outside linebacker and the No. 2 prospect in Alabama.

Potential Impact: Evans is another player that could provide an instant boost to the Tide’s pass rush. He picked the Crimson Tide over Auburn.

Name: Ronnie Clark

Height/Weight: 6-2.5/215

Position: Outside linebacker/Safety

High School/Hometown: Calera (Ala.)

Recruited by: Lance Thompson, Kirby Smart

247Sports Composite Ranking: Clark is a four-star prospect. He is the No. 5 outside linebacker in the nation and the No. 5 prospect in Alabama.

Potential Impact: Clark has told reporters the Tide plan to start him at safety. He is built similar to former Tide great Mark Barron.

Name: Marlon Humphrey

Height/Weight: 6-1/175

Position: Cornerback

High School/Hometown: Hoover (Birmingham)

Recruited by: Kirby Smart

247Sports Composite Ranking: Humphrey is a five-star prospect. He is the No. 3 cornerback in the nation and the top prospect in Alabama.

Potential Impact: Humphrey has a chance to compete for early playing time as the Tide doesn’t have a clear-cut starter at cornerback.

Name: Dominick Jackson

Height/Weight: 6-7/304

Position: Offensive tackle, guard

Junior College: College of San Mateo in California

Recruited by: Mario Cristobal

247Sports Composite Ranking: Jackson is a four-star prospect. He is the No. 2 overall JUCO prospect and the No. 1 JUCO offensive tackle.

Potential Impact: Jackson should be an earlier favorite to fill one of the Tide’s two open spots on offensive line. He can play both guard and tackle.

Name: O.J. Smith

Height/Weight: 6-2/320

Position: Defensive tackle

High School/Hometown: Airline (Bossier City, La.)

Recruited by: Billy Napier, Bo Davis

247Sports Composite Ranking: Smith is a three-star player. He is the No. 30 defensive tackle and the No. 18 prospect in Louisiana.

Potential Impact: Smith is another big body that will provide depth along the defensive line.

Name: JK Scott

Height/Weight: 6-4/185

Position: Kicker/punter

High School/Hometown: J.K. Mullen (Denver, Colo.)

Recruited by: Bobby Williams

247Sports Composite Ranking: Scott is a three-star prospect. He is the No. 5 kicker and the No. 7 prospect in Colorado.

Potential Impact: With Cody Mandell graduating, Scott has a chance to win the starting punter job.

Name: Jacob Coker

Height/Weight: 6-5/230

Position: Quarterback

High School/Hometown: St. Paul’s (Mobile)

Potential Impact: Coker is expected to transfer from Florida State to Alabama in May after graduating in three years. He didn’t sign a national letter of intent because per NCAA policy, transfers from one four-year institution to another do not sign a NLI.

Name: Josh Frazier

Height/Weight: 6-3/335

Position: Defensive tackle

High School/Hometown: Har-Ber (Springdale, Ark.)

Recruited by: Billy Napier, Bo Davis

247Sports Composite Ranking: Casher is a four-star prospect. Casher is the No. 6 defensive tackle and the No. 2 player in Arkansas.

Potential Impact: While the Tide missed on target Matt Elam, Casher is considered to be more of a polished player at this point in their careers. Frazier could provide instant depth at nose tackle.

Name: Joshua Casher

Height/Weight: 6-1/297

Position: Offensive center

High School/Hometown: St. Paul’s (Mobile)

Recruited by: Lance Thompson, Mario Cristobal

247Sports Composite Ranking: Casher is a four-star prospect. He is the nation’s No. 2 center. He is the No. 10 prospect in Alabama.

Potential Impact: One scout said Casher should definitely be a contributor on the interior of the offensive line and called him one of the nastiest blockers in this class.

NameTy Flournoy-Smith

Height/Weight: 6-3/230

Position: Tight end/H-back

High School/Hometown: Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.) 



Junior College:
 Georgia Military College 

Recruited byKirby SmartBobby Williams

247Sports Composite Ranking: Flournoy-Smith is a three-star prospect. He is the No. 1 JUCO tight end.

Potential Impact: Flournoy-Smith could see early playing time at the H-back position. He is more of a pass catching threat than a blocker, which could create matchup problems for defenses with both Flournoy-Smith and O.J. Howard on the field at the same time.

Name: Da’Shawn Hand

Height/Weight: 6-4/265

Position: Strongside defensive end

High School/Hometown: Woodbridge (Woodbridge, Va.)

Recruited by: Lance Thompson

247Sports Composite Ranking: Hand is a five-star prospect. He’s the nation’s top strongside defensive end and the No. 5 overall prospect. He’s also the No. 1 player in Virginia.

Potential Impact: Hand could provide an instant impact in Alabama’s pass rush. With the Tide losing two starters from last season, Hand will have a chance to compete for early playing time.

Name: Keith Holcombe

Height/Weight: 6-4/210

Position: Outside linebacker, athlete

High School/Hometown: Hillcrest (Tuscaloosa)

Recruited byLane Kiffin

247Sports Composite Ranking: Holcombe is a four-star prospect. He is the No. 27 athlete and the 11th best player in Alabama.

Potential Impact: Holcombe has the ability to play both linebacker and safety. A lot of scouts consider him one of the biggest sleepers in this class.



Name
Montel McBride  

Height/Weight: 6-4/329

Position: Offensive guard

High School/Hometown: Plant City (Plant City, Fla.)

Recruited byMario Cristobal

247Sports Composite Ranking: McBride is a three-star prospect. He is the No. 23 offensive guard and the No. 56 prospect in Florida. 

Potential Impact: McBride has drawn comparisons to former Tide standout Chance Warmack. Both are massive and like Warmack, McBride is considered to be a mauler in the running game.

NameJ.C. Hassenauer

Height/Weight: 6-2.5/292

Position: Offensive center

High School/Hometown: East Ridge (St. Paul, Minn.)

Recruited byBobby WilliamsMario Cristobal

247Sports Composite Ranking: Hassenauer is a four-star prospect. He’s the nation’s top center and the No. 2 prospect in Minnesota.

Potential Impact: Hassenauer provides depth at center going forward and also has the ability to play one of the guard spots if necessary.



Name
Ross Pierschbacher

Height/Weight: 6-4/290

Position: Offensive tackle, guard

High School/Hometown: Cedar Falls (Cedar Falls, Iowa)

Recruited byBobby WilliamsMario Cristobal

247Sports Composite Ranking: Pierschbacher is a four-star prospect. He is the No. 6 offensive tackle and the top prospect in Iowa.

Potential Impact: Pierschbacher has the ability to play both guard and tackle which gives Alabama some flexibility on how it wants to use him.



Name
Johnny Dwight

Height/Weight: 6-2.5/303

Position: Defensive tackle

High School/Hometown: Wilcox County (Rochelle, Ga.)

Recruited byKirby SmartBo Davis

247Sports Composite Ranking: Dwight is a three-prospect. He is the No. 32 defensive tackle and the No. 31 prospect in Georgia.

Potential Impact: Dwight has the versatility to play as a defensive end in the 3-4 and defensive tackle in 4-3.



Name
Derek Kief

Height/Weight: 6-5/197

Position: Wide receiver

High School/Hometown: LaSalle (Cincinnati)

Recruited byBilly Napier

247Sports Composite Ranking: Kief is a four-star prospect. He ranks as the No. 32 wide receiver and the No. 8 prospect in Ohio.

Potential Impact: Kief is a tall, long receiver who could play a role similar to the of Kevin Norwood. Kief excels at making jump-ball catches and has nice hands.

 


New Alabama QB Jacob Coker ready to work
by Marq_Burnett
Feb 04, 2014 | 1651 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
TUSCALOOSA — For new Alabama quarterback Jacob Coker, competition is second nature.

Coker is one of four children and comes from a family of athletes, so he has competed since an early age.

His mother, Michelle Spires, played volleyball at South Alabama. His older brother played college football. His younger sister has scholarship offers to play volleyball and run track, while his 15-year-old brother is 6-foot-7 with colleges already knocking on his door.

So competing for the starting job at Alabama shouldn’t be too much for Coker to handle.

“He comes from a large family of accomplished athletes,” Spires said by telephone. “He’s never buckled or folded under pressure. I think there will be a lot of pressure, but Jake has demonstrated a competitive spirit all of his life. You’d have to know him. He’s tough. If there’s a way to win, he’ll find it. He’ll never give up, he’ll never quit. He’s a fighter.”

For Spires, timing was everything. When Coker chose to transfer from Florida State after graduation in May, Alabama was one of many options, but having a familiar face on Tide staff helped make the decision a little easier. Tyler Siskey, Alabama’s associate director of player personnel, is a family friend and has been a mentor to Coker’s older brother since his days coaching at St. Paul’s in Mobile.

Spires said Coker’s choice to finish his collegiate career at Alabama wasn’t a spur of the moment decision, and that the family has been supportive every step of the way.

“Jake would like to play football at the next level,” Spires said. “If that’s what he wants to do, as a parent, I’m going to do everything I can to help him get to the next level.”

When AJ McCarron took over for Greg McElroy in 2011, the Tide was coming off a disappointing 2010 season. Expectations were high, as Alabama had won its first national championship in 17 years in 2009, but McCarron helped led the Tide to back-to-back national titles, cementing his legacy while also creating a championship or bust mentality for the fans and spectators.

Coker, who has two years of eligibility remaining, will be one of several Tide quarterbacks vying to replace McCarron, who was a three-year starter. David Morris, the founder and head of Quarterback Country’s Mobile division, will be training Coker before he arrives at Alabama.

Coker still is recovering from November surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, but Morris said he should be at full speed in a few weeks and from there it will be a “gradual process of trying to get him back into quarterback shape.”

As for the competition, Morris said Coker’s time at Florida State and last season’s high profile battle with Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston has prepared him for the pressure cooker that is Alabama football. He said he believes Coker will handle the situation with “class and humility.”

“He’s used to the pressure, he’s use to the spotlight,” Morris said. “Florida State is obviously a program that’s under the microscope all well. So he’ll be used to all of the cameras and all of the hype and all of that. Ultimately, he’ll just go to work and control what he can and let everything else fall into place.

“He’s pretty good at not applying any more pressure than he needs to on himself.”

Morris also has worked with Coker’s predecessor as he is currently training McCarron for the NFL draft. He said Coker and McCarron are similar, although McCarron has more experience.

“They’re similar in that they’re both hard working and good athletes,” Morris said. “They both are big, physical guys. They both can make all of the throws.”

For those looking for an NFL quarterback comparison, Morris said Coker, at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, is similar to Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco, but “more athletic.”

“Both big, strong, physical guys with big arms and kind of quiet leader,” Morris said. “The way Jake leads is he’s going to be there early and stay late. That’s kind of the way Flacco is.”

Morris has worked with Coker since he was in high school. He said Coker’s biggest improvement during their time together has been his footwork.

“He had a big arm when we first got started, but his feet weren’t quite where they needed to be,” Morris said. “Athletically, he was super intriguing so you knew it wouldn’t take that long to get that down. But ultimately, we had to create some muscle memory in his feet so he’d understand each step of the drop and what his purpose was on each particular drop. 

“What has happened over time is that his feet have gotten to where they compliment his arm and vice versa.”

Morris said Coker’s arm strength is off the charts and that they’ll focus on other aspects of his game when training for this next part of his journey.

“He does have one of the biggest arms I’ve seen,” Morris said. “The things you also have to factor in are accuracy and anticipation, and he’s good at those things, but that’s where experience will come in and be a better indicator. He can throw a football. The thing you have to worry about with big-arm guys are those other two factors. He’s a guy that is accurate, and I think this offseason we’ll be a position to work on all of those little things that matter probably even more than arm strength.”

Morris said Coker has an infectious personality, and said one of the things Coker has going for him is he knows nothing is guaranteed in this situation.

“He knows that he’s going to have to go in and work his tail off,” Morris said. “He’s excited about that. I’ve heard him say several times that all he wants to do is be in a position to compete for the job. From there, let the best man win. I think he’s excited about competing and he knows he’s up against some very good competition.

“Jake’s got a great level head and I think he’s going to be a guy that takes the competition seriously. Those guys are going to like him to because he’s a great kid and a good guy.” 

Alabama gets hammered at home by Tennessee
by Marq_Burnett
Feb 01, 2014 | 1287 views |  0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
TUSCALOOSA -- For the past two games, nothing has gone right for Alabama men’s basketball.

After a blowout loss at in-state rival Auburn on Thursday, the Crimson Tide responded with a 76-59 blowout home loss to Tennessee on Saturday.

It was the Tide’s worst home loss since falling to Clemson by 26 in January of 2008 and its worst SEC home loss since 2003.

"We got outplayed," Tide coach Anthony Grant said. "Tennessee obviously had a lot of success. All you have to do is look at the numbers. In the second half they were 71 percent from the field and 3-for-5 from the 3-point line.

“They did a great job getting to the free throw line and converted 13 of 16 attempts in the second half. That's the story of the game. When you give up those kinds of numbers, it's hard to win.”

The Tide entered the contest having won 15 of its last 16 home games against SEC foes, but even the 12,620 fans in Coleman Coliseum couldn’t give the Tide the energy it needed. The school sponsored a "White Out" promotion, with the first 10,000 fans receiving free "White Out" T-shirts.

Alabama (9-12, 3-5 SEC) came out flat and trailed the entire game. At one point, the Vols led by as many as 23.

Trevor Releford led the Tide with 23 points and six assists, while Nick Jacobs put in 13 points and grabbed six rebounds. Outside of those two, the Tide got little offensively from its other contributors as no one else scored more than seven points.

Tennessee’s Jordan McRae led all scorers with 26 points. Vols’ forward Jarnell Stokes had a double-double with 22 points and 16 rebounds, while guard Josh Richardson added 12 points.

The Vols shot 45 percent (9-20) from 3-point range, while Alabama made just 20 percent (3-15) of its 3s. The Tide played a 2-3 zone on defense for much of the night, but it didn’t seem to bother the Vols.

"I told our guys you have to take shots," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. "We felt like they would probably play zone most of the night. When shots present themselves, you have to take the shot."

Despite the team's struggles, Releford said he isn't giving up on the season.

"You can't quit. You have to keep motivating," he said. "As a senior, I have to keep trying to lead like coach tells me every day. I have to stick with it, and that's what I have to try to do throughout the rest of the season."

Alabama will have a few days off before traveling to Arkansas for a showdown with the Razorbacks (13-8, 2-6 SEC) on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.


Five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey commits to Alabama
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 29, 2014 | 1645 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama picked up another five-star prospect with Hoover cornerback Marlon Humphrey pledging to the Crimson Tide on Wednesday.

Humphrey announced his decision through Twitter.

“Thanks for everyone that has supported me this far. I’m happy to say I am committed to the University of Alabama!! #RollTide,” Humphrey said in a Twitter post.

Humphrey chose Alabama over Florida State. He is the Tide’s 25th commitment for the 2014 cycle.

Humphrey and early enrollee Tony Brown give the Tide two five-star cornerbacks in its 2014 class. Brown is already a member of the Tide’s track and field team with Humphrey expected to join him once he arrives on campus.

Humphrey, a 6-foot-0, 180-pound cornerback, ranks as the No. 10 prospect nationally and the No. 1 cornerback, according to 247Sports.

As a senior, he helped led Hoover to a 15-0 record and the Class 6A state championship.

Humphrey is the son of former Alabama All-American running back Bobby Humphrey, who also played for the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins.

Humphrey’s high school coach, Josh Niblett, told ESPN he was proud of the way Humphrey handled the recruiting process.

“Now that it’s over he can take a deep breath,” Niblett told ESPN. “The thing with him is he’s handled the process unbelievably. He’s had a plan. He’s had his ducks in a row.

“He did a really good job of looking at all the aspects of the programs recruiting him. … In the end, he wanted to see what was the best fit for him and the best for his future. And obviously that choice came down to the University of Alabama.”

Humphrey joins a defensive backfield that has many holes to fill. The Tide will be without starter Deion Belue and key reserve John Fulton, both of whom graduated.

But is Humphrey an immediate impact player or will he need time to develop? 247Sports national recruiting director JC Shurburtt said it will depend on Humphrey’s work ethic and attitude.

“It’s up to Marlon Humphrey. They’ll coach him up and try to get him ready to play,” Shurburtt said. “They don’t have a problem playing their talented freshmen and he’s talented. He’s not that type of guy that you look at sometimes, like a Dre Kirkpatrick or a Dee Milliner and say, ‘That guy is playing in year one.’ You kind of have to wait and see what happens with him. If he comes in, works hard and is developed quickly, I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t.”

Alabama’s 2014 recruiting class is ranked No. 1 by all four major recruiting services with Humphrey’s pledge strengthening the Tide’s grip on the top class.

“It was fun getting a chance to know some of these coaches from schools all around...but I’m just happy it’s all over,” Humphrey said in a Twitter post.


Jacob Coker talks knee injury, picking Alabama, QB competition and more
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 28, 2014 | 1005 views |  0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

TUSCALOOSA -- While former Florida State quarterback Jacob Coker has chosen Alabama as his transfer destination, there is still a lot of work to be done before he officially moves to Tuscaloosa.

In a radio interview with WNSP 105.5-FM, Coker gave a little insight into what he’ll face in the classroom during his final semester in Tallahassee.

“It’s a pretty heavy workload,” Coker said. “I’ve taken 18 hours before so it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Coker, who is rehabbing a meniscus injury, said Tuesday marks 12 weeks since the injury. He said the next step in the process will be strengthening his leg.  

The 6-foot-5, 230 pound quarterback is expected to graduate in May and enroll at Alabama in the summer. NCAA rules allow athletes who have completed their graduation requirements to transfer without sitting out a year. Coker will have two years of eligibility left.

He will not count against the current recruiting class limit of 25 incoming players, but will count against the team total of 85, which is the maximum allowed by the NCAA for FBS schools.

On Sunday, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban announced that Coker will be joining the Tide.

Coker said it is technically just a verbal commitment, but added that he signed forms which “gives them the ability to contact me like I’m a player at Alabama which makes the transition easier.”

So why Alabama?

“I grew up a huge Alabama fan,” Coker said. “It felt like I was coming home. On my visit, I was really impressed by the coaches and players. It got me real excited about coming back and playing for my home state and my hometown team.”

Coker said he didn’t visit any other schools.

“I had a good idea of where I wanted to be,” Coker said. “I wanted to visit Alabama first and check it out. It was what I thought it was. I feel comfortable with the decision right now. I’m just really excited about the possibilities that are in the future.”

Coker is one of many signal callers who’ll be vying to replace three-year starter AJ McCarron. Coker replaced McCarron at St. Paul’s High in Mobile.

At quarterback, the Tide also will have rising senior Blake Sims, redshirt sophomore Alec Morris, redshirt freshmen Cooper Bateman and Parker McLeod and incoming freshman David Cornwell.

During his visit to Tuscaloosa this past weekend, Coker said he wasn’t able to meet any of the quarterbacks.

While his competitors will have spring practice to impress the coaches and gain chemistry with teammates, Coker won’t use the lack of spring workouts as an excuse for not earning the job.

“I’m just going to try to get as comfortable with the playbook as possible before I get there,” Coker said. “Just work as hard as I can to compete when I get there.”

Coker is no stranger to competition. He battled Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston for the Seminoles’ starting job last offseason. Coker said he and Winston grew close during their two years together and that their competition was a positive one.

“We got along real well,” Coker said. “If he made a play or I made a play, we were both patting each other on the back. It was really just a good situation and we made ourselves better. It was a fun season this year.”

Under Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher and quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders, Coker said he “learned more football than I could ever have imagined.” He also said Fisher was very helpful throughout this entire process.

“He was real positive about the whole situation,” Coker said. “It was really good for me the way he handled it. He offered any help he could possibly give me. He was just real encouraging of the situation. He handled it great, and I appreciate.”

Now, Coker will look to get comfortable with his new position coach. He said he talked with new Tide offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Lane Kiffin over the weekend. Coker said the two offenses are similar and that it would be “good to have that basic foundation down.”

“We went over how the games would be managed,” Coker said. “We’ll get into the terminology and the language later. I’m real excited about how he presented the offense and I’m excited about getting into the playbook.” 

Click here for the full interview

Former Florida State QB Jacob Coker commits to transfer to Alabama
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 26, 2014 | 1333 views |  0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

TUSCALOOSA -- Finally, all of the Jacob Coker to Alabama news has become official.

Coker, who was on an official visit in Tuscaloosa this weekend, has committed to Alabama.

The Crimson Tide’s official Twitter account confirmed the news on Sunday.

“Head coach Nick Saban announced Sunday that quarterback Jake Coker has signed with the Crimson Tide,” the post said.

Coker is expected to enroll at Alabama this summer after he completes his undergraduate degree at Florida State. Since he is graduating, Coker will have two years of eligibility left.

“We think a lot of Jake and we are excited to have him join our team,” Saban said in a university news release. “He is not only an outstanding football player, but he is also a fine young man who we feel will be a great fit with our program at Alabama.”

Coker played in seven games last year at FSU as the back-up to Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. He saw action in four games as in 2012 and redshirted in 2011. Coker originally signed with FSU after leading St. Paul’s Episcopal to the state playoffs and a 10-2 record as a senior. He was also a standout basketball player who earned all-state recognition, averaging 21.9 points per game as a senior.

“I was very impressed with everything on my visit to Tuscaloosa,” Coker said in a university news release. “I feel very comfortable with the coaches and the players, and I’m looking forward to getting started at Alabama and competing. I also want to thank my coaches and teammates at Florida State. I had a great experience there and I’m excited to build on that at Alabama.”

Bamaonline.com first reported the news.

He will not count against the current recruiting class limit of 25, but will count against the team total of 85.

This season in mop-up duty, Coker completed 18 of 36 passes for 250 yards and an interception.

At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Coker is expected to push for the starting job from the day he arrives on campus.

In an interview with CBSSports.com, Florida State quarterback coach Randy Sanders raved about Coker.

“I’ve never had anybody with his size who throws it as well as he does,” Sanders told CBSSports.com. “Jake has a really quick release with tremendous arm strength. Rarely does it not spiral or not go where he wants it to go.”

Sanders was also asked if Coker’s arm is better than Winston’s.

“Coker’s arm is kind of at a different level,” Sanders said. “Jameis has a very special arm, and this isn’t any knock against Jameis, but Jake’s probably the best I’ve seen in 25 years at throwing it.”

With Coker, the Tide will also have senior Blake Sims, redshirt sophomore Alec Morris, redshirt freshmen Cooper Bateman and Parker McLeod and true freshman David Cornwell.

Walk-on quarterback Luke Del Rio transferred to Oregon State earlier this month.

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