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Jumbo Package: Alabama lands massive 4-star OT to retake the lead in recruiting rankings

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Happy Friday, everyone. The 2023 class got bigger in a couple of ways last night with the commitment of 360-lb. tackle Miles McVay out of Illinois.

The No. 19 tackle and 186th-overall recruit on 247Sports composite rankings, McVay is the fourth offensive lineman and third tackle that position coach Eric Wolford has earned a verbal commitment from. Along with defensive line coach Freddie Roach’s efforts, McVay’s pledge lifts the Tide above Notre Dame once again in the 2023 team ranking list.

Considering his size McVay sounds like a road grading right tackle type, but we will see when he gets here. Coach Wolf is doing some work on the trail.

Phil Steele has Alabama winning the SEC, just like everyone else.

What Steele says: “This year, Alabama has 12 returning starters, including Bryce Young. The Tide gets Texas A&M at home and will be preseason No. 1 and have made the playoff eight of nine years.”

247Sports scoop: Alabama is the unanimous preseason No. 1 across several major publications, including our own, thanks to the return of Heisman-winning quarterback Bryce Young and out-of-this-world edge rusher Will Anderson. Toss in a couple instant-impact transfers and the No. 2 signing class for 2022 and Alabama should be playing for a playoff spot in early December once again.

Saban spoke about the impact of JoJo Earle’s injury, and it certainly sounds like the starting outside WRs are set.

Saban previously mentioned Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton has been the most consistent player in camp. Then on Wednesday, he answered an open-ended question about the returning group of receivers.

“Ja’Corey Brooks is doing really well,” Saban said of the sophomore who is, statistically, the second-best returning wideout. “Very competitive, smart, plays with a lot of toughness, very physical, doing a good. Has got really good hands. And all the other guys, they’re making progress.”

It will be a minor upset for me if Traeshon Holden isn’t starting in the slot week one, though there are some burners on the roster in Christian Leary and freshmen Isaiah Bond and Shazz Preston who could all push for time. Of course, Tyler Harrell is around too, though he has reportedly been banged up. Freshman Aaron Anderson was said to be doing well in summer workouts but he is dealing with a minor knee issue as well.

ESPN’s gambling dude is betting that Alabama drops a SEC game along the way.

I am taking under 7.5 conference wins because I think Bama could slip up against any of those opponents. The juice of -160 translates to 61.5%, and I think there’s a better chance than that. Alabama lost as an 18-point favorite against Texas A&M last year, so it’s not that wild to think the Tide stumble. They get every opponent’s best shot, and for the first time in a while, several SEC foes have narrowed the gap. Saban and the Tide are the gold standard, but they are still capable of being upset by a ranked team. We never see two regular-season losses, but we only need one.

We shall find out soon enough.

Ben Flanagan got a little nostalgic on us.

You could not script it any better. Nearly a year after he was benched in the national championship game against Georgia, Jalen Hurts backed up the quarterback who replaced him until Tua Tagovailia injured his angle, and Nick Saban called his number. Opting to stay at Alabama instead of transferring despite losing the starting job, Hurts bided his time until opportunity arose and he came in to lead the Tide to an unbelievable 35-28 comeback victory to secure the conference championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff, capped with a 15-yard touchdown run with 1:04 left in the game. We knew Hurts would likely leave the program at season’s end, which he did when he transferred to Oklahoma, but he left one more mark for fans to remember forever. “I’m so proud of this guy for what he’s done this year. I can’t even tell you,” Saban said about Hurts after the game.

That was the game that showed how karma can work in both directions. Jalen had been the consummate team player and earned that moment in the spotlight.

Chris Stewart is grateful for the opportunity to repay a debt to friend Eli Gold.

“I was as sick as I could possibly be without dying,” Stewart said. “In fact, at one point, my wife called some of my closest friends and told them they needed to get to the hospital because I wasn’t going to make it.”

He missed the 2019 football season as well as the nonconference portion of the men’s basketball season. He didn’t return to work until Jan. 4, 2020.

In his absence, Roger Hoover called the basketball games. Meanwhile, Gold served as host of the first Nick Saban TV show and the Monday “Crimson Tide Rewind” shows.

“I’m grateful that I’m in a position now where I’m healthy and well enough that I can return the favor and hopefully pick up some of these things to take off Eli’s platter but also pick up the slack for (CTSN general manager) Jim (Carabin) and do that until Eli is able to return.”

Beautiful story of a couple of men who are cherished by Alabama faithful.

Bruce Feldman ranked the “freaks” in the sport, and Will Anderson didn’t make the list. Apparently Will’s measurables don’t jump off the page or something. In any case, check out this nugget on Braswell.

10. Chris Braswell, Alabama, linebacker

He’s not the headliner of the Tide backers in what is a remarkably talented group, but coaches say Braswell (13 tackles in 2021) is the biggest Freak. At 6-3, 243, he squats 705 pounds and power-cleaned 405 pounds this offseason. He also vertical-jumped 38.5 inches.

For those scoring at home, 705 pounds equates to seven 45-lb. plates on each end of an Olympic bar, plus a little more. And a 405 lb. power clean? That man is a monster.

Last, G. Allan Taylor over at The Athletic offers a few predictions for the season.

With apologies to A-listers Bryce Young and Will Anderson (“Trade you my extra Heisman for your extra Nagurski?”), it’s more intriguing to project how/where/when the transfers will shine. Jahmyr Gibbs scores his first Alabama touchdown on a wheel route vs. Utah State. Jermaine Burton beats Kelee Ringo for the clinching score in Atlanta. Tyler Harrell makes nine catches on fly sweeps. And Eli Ricks gets six picks. That last one was partly for the rhyme scheme, though I’ll stand by it.

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

Roll Tide.

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