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Alabama spring game: Time, TV coverage and a first look at the new QBs for 2021

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Alabama will have its first A-Day in over two calendar years on Saturday.

The Crimson Tide, fresh off winning coach Nick Saban’s second undefeated national championship, will look to replace receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, running back Najee Harris, quarterback Mac Jones, cornerback Patrick Surtain II and defensive lineman Christian Barmore, among others.

That is a significant amount of talent to replace, even for a Saban-coached team. It certainly doesn’t help that Alabama is once again having to replace several key coaches, including offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian (Texas head coach), offensive line coach Kyle Flood (Texas offensive coordinator), special teams coordinator Jeff Banks (Texas special teams coordinator), cornerbacks coach Karl Scott (Vikings defensive backs coach) and running backs coach Charles Huff (Marshall head coach).

But Alabama’s 2021 recruiting class, the highest-rated in the history of 247Sports’ Composite rankings, has allayed any fears Tide fans may have for the upcoming season. The Tide also brought in several high-end assistant coaches in former Texans head coach Bill O’Brien (as offensive coordinator) and former Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone (offensive line).

MORE: Watch Alabama’s spring game live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)

All of that points to what could be another special season for the Tide. There are no guarantees in college football, even at Alabama, but Saturday’s game should at least indicate what this team’s strengths and weaknesses are. With that, here’s everything you need to know about this year’s A-Day game, including time, date and storylines to watch.

When is Alabama’s spring game?

  • Date: Saturday, April 17
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET

Alabama’s spring game will start at 1 p.m. ET at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

How to watch Alabama spring game

The Crimson Tide’s spring game will air on ESPN, meaning you can also stream the game live with fuboTV, which offers a seven-day free trial.

How many fans are allowed at A-Day?

The maximum capacity for Saturday’s game is set at 50 percent, or roughly 50,000 fans in the stands at Bryant-Denny. Spectators must wear facial coverings at all times while in attendance, except when eating or drinking.

Biggest question from Alabama spring game

How does the defense look?

Crimson Tide fans have been critical of Pete Golding, who is entering his third season as defensive coordinator. The defense in 2020 was virtually Alabama’s only weakness as it twice forced the offense to lead victories in shootouts: 63-48 over Ole Miss and 52-46 over Florida in the SEC championship game.

Outside of those games, however, no team scored more than 24 points against the Tide, who surrendered an average of 14.4 points when excluding Ole Miss and Florida. Even when including the Rebels and Gators,  the Tide led the SEC in scoring defense at 19.4 points per game. The unit is losing several important pieces, including defensive lineman Christian Barmore, cornerback Patrick Surtain II and linebacker Dylan Moses. Barmore is a fringe first-round prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft while Surtain is considered a lock to be a first-round selection.

That said, the team returns a stable group of players in the front seven and experience in the secondary.

Of note, linebackers Will Anderson, Christian Harris and Christopher Allen, who combined for 17.5 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss last season, all return. LaBryan Ray, a five-star recruit from Alabama’s 2017 class, will look to dominate in a healthy season for once. Look for five-star linemen Damon Payne and Dallas Turner to contribute as well.

The secondary returns every starter aside from Surtain, including Malachi Moore, DeMarco Hellams, Jordan Battle, Daniel Wright and Josh Jobe. Look for incoming freshman Ga’Quincy McKinstry, the top corner in the 2021 class, to vie for a starting spot.

Alabama QB competition

It appears as if the job is Bryce Young’s to lose. Many expected the No. 2 overall player and No. 1 quarterback in the 2020 recruiting class to immediately take the starting job from Mac Jones ahead of last season. That never materialized, however, as Jones put together one of the most efficient individual seasons by a quarterback in college football history.

Saban said Young has become “better and better” in spring practice at grasping the playbook and becoming a leader of the offense.

“I think he realizes what he needs to do to try to help the players around him to play better, and I think he’s done it very well,” Saban said (via 247Sports).

Apart from Young, it appears the only quarterbacks who can seriously contend for the starting job are redshirt sophomore Paul Tyson and Jalen Milroe, an early enrollee from the 2021 class. Milroe in particular was considered a recruiting steal in the 2021 class as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the state of Texas. He’s considerably larger than Young (6-3, 208 pounds to Young’s 6-0, 194 pounds).

Three more positions to watch

Offensive line

Alabama in 2021 landed what might be the highest-rated offensive line class in recruiting history (or at least since 247Sports began ranking players and teams). The Tide pulled in the top two offensive tackles, JC Latham (No. 2 overall) and Tommy Brockermeyer (No. 5 overall); the No. 2 guard, Terrence Ferguson (No. 57 overall); the No. 1 center, James Brockermeyer (No. 189 overall) and the No. 15 guard, Jaeden Roberts (No. 251 overall). All but Roberts enrolled early.

For those who are keeping track, that is an entire offensive line unit.

That said, there are only so many open positions. Gone are center Landon Dickerson and left tackle Alex Leatherwood — fringe first-round NFL Draft picks — but returning are several key pieces, including backup center Chris Owens, right tackle Evan Neal and starting right guard Emil Ekiyor Jr.

Receivers

Gone are 2020 Heisman winner DeVonta Smith and backup Jaylen Waddle, who many thought was Alabama’s best receiver before he broke his ankle against Tennessee. That leaves John Metchie III and Slade Bolden as the only returning receivers who got significant playing time in 2020. Tight end Jahleel Billingsley should also be a major part of the pass-catching rotation.

The Tide addressed the need for pass-catchers in their 2021 class, recruiting what could be the top positional group in college football: five-star Jacorey Brooks (No. 2 wide receiver, No. 26 overall); Agiye Hall (No. 5 wide receiver, No. 44 overall); JoJo Earle (No. 6 wide receiver, No. 46 overall); and Christian Leary (No. 10 wide receiver, No. 74 overall). Earle is the only player among that group not currently on campus.

It stands to reason that some of those freshmen will see significant playing time in 2021, but look for returning depth pieces Javon Baker, Xavier Williams, Traeshon Holden and Thaiu Jones-Bell to challenge for a starting position as well.

Running backs

Alabama again has an embarrassment of riches at this position, as only 2020 Doak Walker Award winner Najee Harris elected to leave school following last season. Senior Brian Robinson will likely be in the rotation, but Jase McClellan, Trey Sanders and Roydell Williams are all vying for playing time behind him. Each are top-100 recruits from their respective signing classes; Sanders was the top overall player at his position in 2019. Unfortunately for him, a torn ACL in 2019 and a car accident in 2020 has kept him from gaining significant playing time. He should be fully healthy for the first time in 2021.

Surprisingly, Saban signed Camar Wheaton, the No. 2 overall running back in the Class of 2021, to a scholarship. Saban’s philosophy is to never turn down an excellent back, however, which means Wheaton will have to work for any playing time he gets in 2021. Wheaton will not play in Saturday’s A-Day Game.

Freshmen to watch

Offense: Jacorey Brooks, WR

Brooks, who’s listed at 6-3, 185 pounds, is considered the top receiver in Alabama’s vaunted 2021 class, meaning he’ll likely have the best chance, on paper, to work his way into the receiving corps. Former NFL player Cris Dishman, who coached defensive backs at Brooks’ IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., offered this scouting report on the No. 2 receiver in the 2021 class:

“He’s a never say never guy. He’s a very hard worker. He’s got very good hands. Good route running ability,” Dishman said (via AL.com). Everyone keeps saying he’s not as fast. But once he gets going, he’s got good top-end speed. But he’s a very good route runner. Hand-eye coordination is very good. The guys I can compare him to is someone like, his work ethic is like a Jerry Rice. He’s going to work extremely hard. He’s going to be on time. He’s going to be a yes sir, no sir type of person. If you tell him to do something, he’s going to do it. He’s a pleaser if you know him.”

Defense: Ga’Quincy McKinstry, CB

McKinstry — or “Kool-Aid,” as he’s called — is expected to challenge for significant playing time in place of Surtain in 2021. The No. 1 overall player from the state of Alabama in the 2021 class was such a priority that Tide basketball coach Nate Oats offered him playing time on his team. He caught 45 passes his senior season in high school. He’s an athletic talent who should be a force once he adds weight to his 6-0, 180-pound frame.


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Raptors cannot wait to get out of Tampa?

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The Toronto Raptors have not exactly gotten the warmest welcome in their temporary home this season. Now it sounds like they are itching to get the heck out of Dodge.

Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports reported this week that there are Raptors players and other members of the organization who cannot wait to leave Tampa, Fla. They are said to be counting down the days until they can pack their bags, take their families and leave on May 17.

The Raptors have their last regular-season contest on May 16. They are four games out of the play-in tournament zone with five games left, meaning they are all but certain to miss the playoffs and see an early end to their season.

Tampa has played home to the Raptors this year with Toronto unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions. The partnership has been frosty at best with the Raptors even recently getting booed by the local fans. It is probably safe to say that there will not be any NBA basketball in Tampa after this season.

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Manchester United planning £70m double sale to fund Erling Haaland move – Reports

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Manchester United are hoping to raise funds from player sales to help finance a move for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland.

According to We All Follow United via Express, the Red Devils are planning to sell Jesse Lingard and either David de Gea or Dean Henderson, to raise £70m in the summer. The money will then be invested in bringing the Norwegian striker to Old Trafford.

Manchester United have reportedly made Haaland their number one target ahead of the summer, but Dortmund have slapped an astronomical fee on the player. The Norwegian has been on a brilliant run of form since his move to the Bundesliga side. Haaland has scored 47 goals in 48 games since joining Dortmund from RB Leipzig in January of 2020.

Haaland is the target-man Ole Gunnar Solskjaer desires at Old Trafford, even though the player has already rejected Manchester United on two occasions in the past.

However, the Black and Yellows want a fee of over £100m for the Norwegian, which could be a problem for the Red Devils. Interestingly, Haaland’s £70m release clause will only come into effect in the summer of 2022.

Solskjaer has already revealed that Manchester United will not be able to spend freely in the transfer market due to the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the Red Devils are planning to raise funds from the sales of Jesse Lingard and one of their goalkeepers.

The Englishman has impressed while on loan with West Ham United and could be allowed to leave for around £20m. The Hammers are reportedly desperate to sign the player on a permanent deal, which will work in Manchester United’s favor.

The Red Devils could also sell one of De Gea and Henderson in the summer, with the Englishman currently valued at £50m. Paul Pogba could also be allowed to leave unless he signs a contract extension at the end of the season. Manchester United, however, are eager to retain the Frenchman.

Funds raised from player sales will help the Red Devils compete with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, who are also monitoring Haaland.

Manchester United want to end the season on a high note

Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland

Manchester United are currently second in the Premier League and are also in the final of the UEFA Europa League final, where they will face Villarreal on 26 May. The Red Devils have five games remaining in the Premier League and will want to end the season on a high nite despite their congested fixture list.

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Why did ‘completely healthy’ Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s past heart issue cause him to plummet in NFL draft?

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He’s already in the top 5 candidates to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Image: Getty Images

When Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft concluded, several first-round talents had yet to be taken. Many viewers were shocked to see names like Asante Samuel Jr., Teven Jenkins, Trevon Moehrig, Jevon Holland, Christian Barmore, and Levi Onwuzurike still available after 32 picks. However, the most notable exception from the Day 1 selections was Notre Dame linebacker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

According to multiple reports, JOK dropped on many teams’ draft boards because of a “heart issue that came up late in the process,” per Adam Schefter. That sounds serious. That definitely warrants teams being skeptical of selecting him, right? Well, here’s the thing…..JOK had already been cleared by medical professionals prior to the draft. After selecting Owusu-Koramoah with the 52nd overall pick, Browns GM Andrew Berry said “He’s completely healthy. There’s nothing really in his background that would suggest he can’t have a nice, long career.”

JOK’s talent is obvious to everyone. The selection has been universally praised by damn near everyone. I mean, he’s a linebacker with slot cornerback speed. That will always be a valued asset in the National Football League. Despite being the 23rd defensive player taken in the draft, most sites give Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah top-5 odds to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in the upcoming NFL season. Some sites believe JOK should be the top choice for the award. JOK won the Dick Butkus Award in 2020, awarded each season to college football’s best linebacker (other notable recipients of the award include Patrick Willis, Von Miller, Luke Kuechly, and Devin White). He also earned the distinction of 1st team All-American, 1st Team All-ACC, and ACC Defensive Player of the Year. With a resume like that, it makes you wonder why any team would wait until Day 2 of the NFL Draft to take the 21-year-old despite the health concern.

Other prospects with more serious injury concerns haven’t fallen nearly as far in the past. Take Jaylen Waddle, the number 6 overall selection in the most recent NFL Draft. Waddle, a former Alabama wide receiver, missed almost the entire 2020 college football season with a fractured right ankle. Ankle injuries are particularly worrisome for wide receivers as being able to push off your foot and change direction on a dot are keys to getting open. However, that injury didn’t hurt Waddle’s draft stock. In fact, Waddle went before his teammate and 2020 Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith. Smith did suffer a dislocated finger, but that injury barely kept him out of one game.

Even more egregious is the NFL’s concern over JOK compared to guys with non-drug related off-field issues. Prior to the draft, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones was held in high regard for his good decision-making. Now, I think we all can agree that drinking and driving is never a good decision to make. So, why didn’t that hurt Jones’s draft stock at all?

Maybe comparing quarterbacks to linebackers is a bit of a stretch — apples to oranges. So then let’s compare JOK to another recent linebacker with an injury history. Reuben Foster had a torn right rotator cuff surgically repaired two months before the 2017 NFL Draft. He also had a history of aggressive behavior and anger management issues, even having to be removed from the 2017 NFL Combine after getting into an altercation with one of the medical staff on the premises. Foster did fall in the draft, but was still selected in the first round with the 31st pick by the San Francisco 49ers. Foster fell approximately 10-15 spots from where he was projected. Owusu-Koramoah, despite having no such history with surgeries or aggression, and after playing every single game for Notre Dame last season, fell approximately 35-40 spots.

It boggles my mind that a player everyone knew was fantastic and every fan, analyst, and general manager acknowledges as an incredible talent, would drop so far for such a minor health concern. Coming into the draft, Owusu-Koramoah was my number one defensive prospect. I am still absolutely confident that he will win Defensive Rookie of the Year. And when he does, hopefully teams won’t pass on the next guy to play an incredible season of football with a seemingly resolved health issue in their past.

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