Welcome to another round of Alabama football talk. Glad to have you all on board. I'll do my best to get to everyones questions in the order they're received.
Alex, Do you think the basketball team will make the NCAA tourney?
Still a toss up for me, but the way they played recently gives me reason to believe they might. Alabama started off the season rocky and has improved in conference play. Some of that is because of the SEC being down overall this year, but it's still worth something. I would have liked to see them find a way to win the Tennessee game late, but they were right in there until the very end.
Who will be the New College Football Players that will be Replacing the One who will be Selected in the NFL Draft for Alabama?
Look for T.J. Yeldon to step in nicely for Eddie Lacy, Arie Kouandjio to fill in for Chance Warmack, Ryan Kelly to slide in at center with Barrett Jones gone, C.J. Mosley to become a full-time starter in place of Nico Johnson, Landon Collins or Nick Perry to play safety where Robert Lester was, Geno Smith to play cornerback in place of Dee Milliner and either Austin Shepherd, Leon Brown or Brandon HIll to play right tackle where D.J. Fluker was. ... I think that covers everybody.
Is it possible that the NCAA will investigate the rumors AL players used the banned substance in the Deer Antler spray? What is the Universities take on this subject?
I don't see the NCAA getting involved at Alabama in any other capacity than to gather information on the company. Alabama could delve further into the situation to see how to best monitor the athletes, but as far as punishment is concerned, I wouldn't expect any.
What is your take on this deer antler thing? Is there a possibility for an investigation or sanctions?
See my answer below. Any investigation would be informal, I believe.
If we lined up the 3 NC teams on the field, who would dominate Offensively, Defensively, Special Teams?
I assume you mean the three Bama NC teams. If that's the case, the 2011 defense is by far the best. Even though the 2012 offense was arguably the most dynamic, I don't see it looking so great against the likes of Barron, Upshaw and Kirkpatrick. As far as special teams, I'd go with 2009.
Gotta start off with the hot question: what, if anything, could come out of all this "deer-antler" stuff? What are the potential violations and punishments? Do those cease-and-desist letter help Alabama's case at all?
The cease and desist letters help their case. Any time you have something on record it's going to be in your favor.
Outside of Barrett Jones and Nico Johnson, who do plenty of press time, who was your favorite player to interview and why?
Good question, and the two you named were great. Barrett was special. He is the smartest, most sharp-tongued athlete I've ever covered. But to answer your question, I'd go with Damion Square. He had personality and confidence and wasn't afraid to answer the tough questions. All three of those guys were very professional to me and I appreciate them for it.
Vanderdoes, Liner, Adams...which DT prospects will sign with Bama?
Liner is the most likely, but Alabama has a good shot with Vanderdoes as well. We very well could see two defensive linemen signed next week.
you think Tunsil will end up with UGA, BAMA, or someone else?
I'd still hedge my bets and say UGA, though Ole Miss has given him something to think about.
What's your take on the deer antler spray? I heard some talk show analysts state that it while it contains a banned substance (IGF-1???) that it's only trace elements and that the spray itself is not illegal (at least as far as the NFL is concerned)...
As far as Alabama is concerned, it's an issue but not a big one. I don't expect punishment or a formal investigation. I'm sure there will be orders to all the players to stay away from SWAT. Strong words from the coaching staff that is.
Of the five-star recruits still in play for Bama, which one(s) do you think they will be able to reel in -- in order of likelihood -- and why do you think so?
Eddie Vanderdoes and Laremy Tunsil are the two five-star recruits Alabama is still heavily in the mix for. Of those, I think Vanderdoes is the likeliest. If you add four-stars into the mix, I'd tell you to keep an eye on Dee Liner, Alvin Kamara and Vonn Bell.
Which current Bama players will be drafted in the first round of NEXT year's draft
Ah, I see what you did there. Nicely played. Here I am worried about sizing up the 2013 draft and you've got me thinking a year ahead. Right now, I'd say that Cyrus Kouandjio could very well end up being a high first-round pick. Adrian Hubbard, if all goes right and he adds a little bulk to his frame, could be a late first-round guy. It's going to take a lot for C.J. Mosley to crack the first round, but he would be the next likeliest as of Jan. 31, 2013. ... If you'd asked me about the 2015 draft, that will be the really interesting one when Yeldon, Cooper and Collins are all draft eligible.
Think Courtney Upshaw will do anything big in the Superbowl on Sunday?
He's certainly capable, but it will be an uphill battle against the San Francisco offensive line. The one positive for the Ravens is he's well versed at setting the edge against the read-option. A lot of pass-rushers are specialist in the NFL and can't defend both run and pass. Upshaw can.
3 guys who will see more playing time in 2013?
I'll give you more than three: Reggie Ragland, Landon Collins, Darren Lake, Jeoffrey Pagan, Geno Smith, Chris Black, Kenyan Drake.
The defense seemed to have some great leaders on the defense the past two years. Who do you see being the top two or three leaders on defense next year?
C.J. Mosley will be the face of the defense, though his leadership style is a quiet one. Vinnie Sunseri could be a guy that steps up, as could Trey DePriest. ... Good question. It will take a little bit of time to see who emerges.
Alex- You've done a great job at Alabama and now we need you to report to the home offices here in Bristol. We're sending Jenn Brown to cover Bama from now on. But while you're there... lemme ask, who are the early enrollees and how are they looking so far?
Bristol? Up in that cold weather? No thanks. I mean, Jenn is welcome, but I'd prefer to stay in the South. ... It's too early to say how the early enrollees are looking because we haven't see a practice yet, but here's the list: TE/H O.J. Howard, RB/ATH Derrick Henry, QB Cooper Bateman, QB Parker McLeod, QB Luke Del Rio, WR Raheem Falkins, DB Jai Miller, OL Brandon Hill, OL Leon Brown
Is McCarron a legit Heisman contender? He had about as good of a season as he could have had last year, but would a couple more TDs and a few hundred more passing yard really put him NYC? I have no problem with how he plays at all, I just don't think he's a Heisman.
He's absolutely a Heisman contender. I'd argue that he could have the same exact numbers and win it this year for the simple fact that he's more well known now. Winning two national championships and dating Katherine Webb helps his cause. I know that's not what football purists want to hear, but it's the truth. Now, I'd like to see him have some more consistency down the home stretch (see LSU, TAMU and UGA). The best thing for him is how deep and talented the crop of receivers he has coming back. He'll have plenty of targets to throw the ball to.
Which commits, if any, do you anticipate grey-shirting?
The one we know with certainty is Bradley Bozeman. He told TideNation's Greg Ostendorf that he was fine with the decision because it would give him time to heal his torn ACL.
Is Antonio Conner still in play? And, if so, which would you prefer -- Conner or Vonn Bell?
He's still in play but it's going to take a Landon Collins type of miracle to pull him away from the home state Ole Miss Rebels. I get the feeling the coaching staff prefers Conner to Bell but they're leaving a spot open for Bell should he choose Alabama on NSD.
strengths and weakness of next year's team?
Strength: More skill players than you can shake a stick at. Weakness: Youth on the offensive and defensive line. It's really that simple in the grand scheme of things. There are so many talented WRs and RBs on campus right now and the defense is fairly well off at linebacker and in the secondary. The big thing will be at the line of scrimmage. It's what has won Alabama championships in the past.
do u tink reuben foster will sign with bama??
I don't see it happening. It's hard to get over that Auburn tattoo on his forearm. My guess is either UGA or Auburn come Monday.
Can Landon Collins beat out Vinny and Perry for the safety spot?
Is he capable? Absolutely. There's a reason he was the top safety in last year's class. He's got all the talent in the world and from what I hear he's a gym rat who eats and breathes the game. But Vinnie is the same way. I expect him to come into camp with something to prove. He knows the playbook better and if he can fix some of his deficiencies in coverage he could fight to become the starter. That said, don't count out Perry. Saban said a few times last season that he was the best pure free safety he had.
Any other possible JUCO commits or high profile walk-ons like Luke Del Rio looking at Bama for 2013?
I think that part of the class is wrapped up. Del Rio is on campus, as is juco OL Leon Brown.
will derick henry start out with t.j yeldon??
When you mean "start out" do you mean as the No. 2 tailback? If so, I don't think we'll see that. He'll have to beat out Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart and Kenyan Drake for that distinction. Now will he play RB? Yes. He'll begin the spring there and could find his way into the rotation.
Who do you see as the next star from the Bama sidelines? Collins... R. Foster... Geno Smith... Devall... Ragland... Howard...???
They all have a chance to be. It's hard to choose one. I think Collins will develop into something special and Reggie Ragland could be the Dont'a Hightower at Alabama. Geno Smith has the confidence of a Dre Kirkpatrick and Denzel Devall has come along nicely as a pass-rushing weapon. O.J. Howard is so intriguing because of what he can do on a football field. Alabama hasn't had an athletic TE like him since Saban arrived in 2007.
Am I the only one nervous about having to replace the majority of our offensive and defensive linemen??? USC was picked to be #1 this year and we all knew they had some line issues - please tell me that is not going to be the case with 'Bama!
You're spot on. Winning the line of scrimmage is everything in college football. All the skill guys in the world don't mean anything if you can't hold your own on the offensive and defensive lines. That said, I don't Alabama fans to panic. Yes, there's a lot of talent to be replaced on both lines, but there's also a lot of talent ready to step in. It will be a process but that's why they get spring and fall camp to prepare.
Do u see Henry and Yeldon be our main go to running backs? Or do you see Henry being more dynamic on special teams?
He could play into the RB rotation, but I think his value at first could be on special teams. His role will likely expand as the season wears on.
What about Mr. Bernard Cody in the Superbowl? Expect anything big from him?
It's always hard to say with an interior lineman. His size will help against San Fran's running game.
Do you think Landon Collins' mom realizes her son was right to go to Alabama over LSU?
I spoke to her before the start of the season and she was glad he was at Alabama. I think she'd rather he played a little more at safety but overall I would guess she's pleased with the way Saban and the staff has brought him along.
How many more years will Saban coach?
My over-under is four more years. He hasn't shown any signs of slowing down, but he can't continue forever, right?
who do u think will be ajs back up??
I look for Alec Morris to take the next step and become the No. 2 QB now that the redshirt is off. But if AJ were to go down with a serious injury, I think all bets would be off and the competition would open up to everyone, including Cooper Bateman.
So who will take Williams place at TE? And is there a better blocking TE and catching TE that may rotate?
We'll probably see Vogler and Harrison to start with Howard playing some at H-back. Howard needs to get a little bit bigger to play on the line of scrimmage. Brent Calloway is one to keep an eye on as well.
Do you see any dark horse signee that we haven't heard of that could sign and be a big pick up for Alabama in this years signing class.
There aren't many surprises this late in the game. We've talked about most of the likely suitors, though Conner might be the biggest surprise if he signs with Alabama.
ARew you hearing a lot of rumblings about TAMU?? I'm sure they're anxious to get that monkey off their backs!
Any time there's talk about whether Alabama can repeat, Texas A&M is immediately brought up. And with good reason. Johnny Manziel is going to be around for a while and Kevin Sumlin is building one heck of a program in College Station. I'm sure the players are ready to play the game and get their revenge, though. But remember that game will be on the road in Texas. It will be a tough, tough environment to step into that early in the year.
Well that looks like it's all we've got for today. Thank you for stopping by and participating. We'll do this again at the same time and place next week. Remember that in the meantime, you should head on over to TideNationESPN.com for all the latest Alabama news. We'll be going non-stop from now through signing day.