Glad to be back to talk about all things Alabama football with you for the next hour. A lot has happened in Tuscaloosa in the last few weeks so we won't waste any time. Fire away!
Alex, What upcoming Freshman do you see starting next season?
Though I don't see any of the true freshmen emerging as full-time starters, I do think there is one guy that is most likely to make an immediate impact: O.J. Howard. The TE/H prospect is a guy coaches really like. He's tall and athletic and could create serious matchup nightmares on defense. If there's an impact player on defense, it might be Jonathan Allen. Given the suspension of Pettway, it opens the door for the ESPN 150 DE to come in and earn some early playing time.
What with the 4 Alabama College Football Players Getting Arrested are they automatically Suspended?
Nick Saban suspended Brent Calloway, Tyler Hayes, D.J. Pettway and Eddie Williams immediately following news of their arrests early Tuesday morning. From what we're told, it's only a matter of time before they are dismissed from the football team.
Alex What do you think the ultimate punishment will be for the 4 players arrested?
They're likely going to be dismissed from the football team and end up transferring elsewhere.
If you hade to name our starting 5 on the o line today who would you go with ?
Right now I'd say Cyrus Kouandjio at LT, Anthony Steen at LG, Ryan Kelly at C, Arie Kouandjio or an outside chance Alphonse Taylor at RG, Austin Shepherd at RT. Juco early enrollee Leon Brown could give Shepherd some competition.
What kind of timeline do you Nick Saban following regarding further action on the four suspended players?
Tough to say. There have been indefinite suspensions that have dragged on and on. With this, though, I think we hear something within a couple of weeks. Right now I think they're weighing their legal options.
Little disappointed in Saban. Why didn't he pull the trigger and just kick the 4 off the football team? There is no way they should have the honor to see the field wearing crimson.
As I've said earlier, I think they're weighing their legal options and obligations. The difference between dismissing them now and two weeks from now is no different. There's no practice or team activities going on right now.
What freshman, true or redhshirt, benefit the most from the four boneheads suspensions?
Jonathan Allen has an opportunity as a pass-rusher should D.J. Pettway be dismissed as expected. Brent Calloway's departure might allow for a little more playing time for O.J. Howard, but the impact isn't that great. Neither Tyler Hayes or Eddie Williams were expected to log serious reps, but it's possible Jai Miller gets a few extra snaps at safety with Williams gone.
Every year one of our RBs step up. Yeldon aside, who in our current group will be the next "great" one?
Kenyan Drake has a chance to be something special. He's got some of the best burst I've seen from a running back in a while. When he gets to daylight, he hits another gear. But keep an eye on the development of freshman early enrollee Derrick Henry. While he's a tad awkward for the position at 6-foot-3 and takes choppier steps than I'd like to see from a running back his size, it's hard to argue with his merits. The kid is the new record holder for career rushing yards in the country. He may not look the part sometimes, but he acts it.
for 2014 class ,is rock thomas a automatic take? and if so would we be done at running back. excluding fournette, because of the great backfield from 2013.
He may not be an automatic take. The feeling is if he were, he'd probably already be committed. With RB Bo Scarbrough on board, I don't think Alabama would limit itself in terms of taking a RB. You have to remember that Dee Hart is highly questionable, Jalston Fowler is iffy and entering his junior year, and Alabama may only have one more season after this coming one with T.J. Yeldon. Saban has said he likes to have five quality RBs at a time, so look for Alabama to continue to go after multiple tailbacks each year.
With a new oline and a potentially explosive wr corp, do you think Bama passes more and AJ McCarron becomes Bama's first 3000 yard passer?
He's got a very good shot to break the 3,000-yard mark, though I don't expect we'll see much of a break from the fairly 50-50 run-pass split we're used to. But you're right about being more explosive. The number of weapons in the passing game is impressive.
3 breakout players on offense and defense?
On offense: Cyrus Kouandjio is going to become a star, Chris Black is ready to show why he was the most hyped receiver last spring and Jalston Fowler, if healthy, could be a different kind of weapon. On defense: Adrian Hubbard is set to develop into a dominant pass-rusher, Landon Collins could break through in Year 2 under Saban and Reggie Ragland looks like a youngster capable of stepping in for Nico Johnson at LB.
I have heard rumors of a few guys looking at transferring (other than the 4 suspended obviously). Have you heard about this or know any guys who are looking?
There were rumors that Phillip Ely and Marvin Shinn might look elsewhere, but after contacting those close to them there wasn't anything substantial to it.
Roc Thomas is a take all the way, Bo has been talked to about playing other positions and has agreed to only if he gets to start at RB to see if he can make the cut...........
Could be a possibility. After watching Bo play for a few years now, I think he's a running back all the way. Not smooth enough to play wide receiver, in my opinion. He doesn't have the soft hands you're looking for. He may figure in on defense if he adds any more height or weight, though. A guy with his burst and athleticism can do a lot of different things.
HOW BIG OF A DROP WILL WE SEE IN THE OL THIS YEAR?
Well, considering last season's line was possibly the best of all time, I think we may see a considerable drop off. It's inevitable that a new line with three brand new starters will have some growing pains. Now that's not to say it won't be a good or even great offensive line. Cyrus Kouandjio could be the best left tackle in the SEC and Anthony Steen is as solid a guard as you'll find. The replacements for Jones, Fluker and Warmack are no slouches either.
What have you heard on the ex-pro baseball player Jai Miller?
Very, very talented athlete. He was a star in three sports in high school and could have done either at the college level should he have wanted to. He's got the size to play in the SEC. The question will be whether he can learn the playbook and adjust to playing a contact sport for the first time in years.
what's your take on an early signing period in CFB?
Mixed bag. For coaches and players who know what they want, I'm in favor of it. Overall, though, I'm opposed. There are too many pitfalls like if a coach leaves the program or a player suddenly has serious criminal problems. There could be provisions, but not enough to ensure the early period would be worth it. I'd argue for a bigger solution like cutting all contact with recruits until the close of their junior seasons.
I'm trying to tell people that Tyren Jones will elude the red-shirt next year because of his unique skill-set. We WILL NOT HAVE the gaping holes like we have the last 2 years for the RB's and Henry will find it tough sledding when he gets hit before he gets a head of steam up in the SEC.........Tyren on the other hand is the one RB we have who can succeed without huge running lanes. I'm taking Tyren as the early standout in this class at RB
Not Altee Tenpenny? He's my pick for a dark horse in the entire class. I think he's got the look of a Trent Richardson. He's built to play in the SEC, much like Tyren. And I think you're going to be right about Henry. He's certainly got the motivation to do well, though. All he's heard the last year is that he can't play RB at the next level.
WHERE DO YOU SEE DEE HART FITTING INTO THE RB ROTATION
Maybe not anywhere. Back-to-back serious knee injuries casts doubt on whether he'll ever be able to get on the field again. I know that's a big thing to say, but reading between the lines of what Saban has said and what he's told recruits, I don't know whether he expects to have Dee back. That said, if he can make a comeback, he'd be the frontrunner as a third-down back until Alvin Kamara gets a grasp of the system. I think Kamara could wind up being the back many expected Dee to become.
I have decided to implement a no-visit policy for our verbal commits because i'm sick and tired of losing recruits..........do you think this will actually help me keep kids on board?
No. Not even a little bit. You're asking kids to limit their options or at least not look into all of them. Recruits aren't going to like it, parents and coaches won't agree with it, and other schools will recruit against it. You can privately encourage your verbal commitments to stay true to their word and not go elsewhere, but to make a hard and fast rule only sets yourself up for failure. You mean to tell me that if you get a top-5 guy to commit and then he goes elsewhere but decides to stick with you in the long run that you won't accept his NLI? Give me a break.
Cyrus Jones will make his mark on defense this coming year.............just passing it along.
Been saying that for a while now. With the logjam at wide receiver and a shortage of good cover guys on defense, it sets up for Cyrus to make the move. It's one of many things I'm looking forward to seeing unfold when spring practice begins.
Do you think we will see Chris Black in Speical Teams? Returning Punts?
Possibly but not for sure. He's got the skill set but there are a few other guys capable of doing the job. We'll have to wait and see how it plays out on that one.
Well, it looks like I've gone over my time allowance. Thanks again for joining me and I encourage everyone to come back at the same time and place next week to do it again. In the meantime, visit TideNationESPN.com for all your up to the minute Alabama news. You can also follow me on Twitter at @AlexS_ESPN or get Alabama recruiting expert Greg Ostendorf at @GregO_ESPN. Cheers!