The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

2 mins ago

DeVonta Smith accepts Senior Bowl invitation

(Alabama Football/Twitter)

To the pleasant surprise of many, University of Alabama star wide receiver DeVonta Smith has accepted an invitation to participate in the 2021 Senior Bowl, to be held January 30 in Mobile, Alabama.

This year’s Senior Bowl and the week of practices, workouts and interviews before the game will look a little different due to COVID-19 protocols, however the annual showcase will still be a premier scouting opportunity for NFL prospects and teams.

The game itself is already sold out (with limited capacity) for its first-ever game to be played in the state-of-the-art Hancock Whitney Stadium located on the campus of the University of South Alabama.

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Now, the event has added the Heisman Trophy winner to the list of elite prospects who have accepted the Senior Bowl’s prestigious invitation to play in the game.

Smith, a two-time national champion for the Crimson Tide, will be added to the roster of either the American team or National team.

The staffs of the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins will coach the respective teams. Miami owns both the third pick and 18th pick in this spring’s draft, and the Panthers have pick No. 8.

One incentive for Smith to participate in the Senior Bowl is the difference in contract values between top picks; looking at last year’s numbers, there was a $10 million difference in picks No. 3 and No. 7, for example.

The Senior Bowl’s website also says that Alabama offensive linemen Alex Leatherwood, Landon Dickerson and Deonte Brown and long snapper Thomas Fletcher have accepted invitations.

Looking around the Yellowhammer State, Auburn’s KJ Britt, South Alabama’s Riley Cole, and UAB’s Jordan Smith and Austin Watkins, Jr. have also reportedly accepted Senior Bowl invitations.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 days ago

Allen Flanigan leads the way for Auburn as the Tigers defeat Kentucky at home

(Auburn Basketball/Twitter)

Auburn Arena wasn’t as crazy as it usually is when Kentucky comes to town. Yet, the game was just as exciting as ever.

The Tigers defeated Kentucky 66-59 on Saturday in a back and forth game in which neither team had a lead larger than seven points. Sharife Cooper becoming eligible has changed the way Auburn plays, and the ball is being spread around more in the last three games than it has all season.

Cooper had 11 points and seven assists against the Wildcats, but it was Allen Flanigan that led the way in scoring. Flanigan finished the game with 21 points along with nine rebounds, which were both the highest numbers on the court today.

After the game, Bruce Pearl praised Flanigan’s style of play saying, “Allen Flanigan is a man out there, he is a full-grown man.”

So far this season, Auburn hasn’t looked like the same team of the past couple of years. Shooting on the perimeter has been a struggle for the Tigers, only hitting 4-23 in this game, and Auburn has only shot 33% from deep this season. However, Bruce Pearl is letting his team play to their strengths.

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On the inside Auburn has a big man, TJ Thor, who is built for the NBA. Thor only had six points against the Wildcats but was able to create havoc down low in the paint to create space for other players to get clean shots at the rim. Stretch Akingbola is another big man who had zero points today, but his presence was felt down low opening up the floor for his teammates.

Pearl would be the first one to admit that his team was struggling earlier this season without Cooper being eligible to play. For that beginning stretch of the season, Auburn didn’t even have a true point guard on the court, but now the Tigers are starting to trend upwards.

Before the game, Pearl explained what it meant to play Kentucky. On what it takes to beat the Wildcats team, he said, “We’ll have to play our best game of the year to beat Kentucky… They’re the benchmark of our league.” He continued, “People will be measured on how you play against Kentucky, and that’s how you should be measured.”

At the end of the day, Pearl’s team was able to measure themselves against Kentucky to see where they stand in the league.

On his team’s win over the Cats, Pearl commented, “Give Kentucky credit, but we managed to to score 42 points in the second half to get the victory.”

Kentucky isn’t the same juggernaut that college basketball fans are used to seeing, but a win over the Wildcats is always a big deal for any team. After the loss today, they fall to 4-8 on the season and are 3-2 in conference play after starting off 3-0.

The two SEC teams to beat the Cats this season were the two teams from the state of Alabama. While Auburn has recently become the “basketball school” of the state, Alabama is the top team in the SEC at this point of the season with five straight conference wins.

The Tide look a lot like the last few Auburn teams who lived or died by the three-point shot.

These two Yellowhammer State teams will meet again later in the year, but for now Auburn have their sights set on Arkansas. Auburn will travel to Fayetteville to take on the 10-4 (2-3 in conference) Razorbacks on Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. CT.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

4 days ago

Four Bama underclassmen — Jones, Waddle, Surtain and Barmore — declare for NFL Draft

(Alabama Athletics/Contributed, YHN)

Four underclassman members of the Alabama Crimson Tide’s national championship-winning team will not return to Tuscaloosa next fall.

Quarterback Mac Jones, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, defensive tackle Christian Barmore and cornerback Patrick Surtain II announced on Thursday they will forego their remaining college eligibility and enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

The quartet made the announcement via a press conference broadcast by the university. All four are expected by national college football analysts to be taken in the first round of the draft.

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Jones, a Heisman finalist, is declaring for the NFL after his lone season under center for the Tide — a year in which he posted dominant numbers, including leading the NCAA in completion percentage. His 2020 performance pushed him from fringe consideration to a consensus first round pick.

Waddle was already expected to be a top first round pick entering the year, and even an injury that derailed much of his season has not changed the consensus thinking. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., in December, ranked Waddle as the eighth-most talented player in the 2021 draft.

Surtain and Barmore have been similarly been graded as likely pros for much of their time at Bama. Surtain’s father played several seasons in the NFL. Kiper ranks Surtain as the best CB and Barmore as the second-best defensive tackle in the 2021 draft class.

Senior wide receiver Devonta Smith and senior running Najee Harris have not yet made their draft status official — and pandemic rule changes grant them an additional season of eligibility — but their official entrance in the draft is considered a formality. Both are expected to go in the first round along with their four underclassmen teammates who declared on Thursday.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

4 days ago

Nick Saban wins Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant Award for first time at Alabama

(ESPN/Twitter)

The American Heart Association on Wednesday night announced that University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has been named the recipient of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award for the 2020 season.

The award recognizes the country’s top college football coach for his contributions both on and off the field. The award is selected after all bowl games have concluded and is voted on by the National Sports Media Association.

Saban, who won the Bryant Award in 2003 at LSU, joins Alabama legend Gene Stallings (1992) as the Crimson Tide’s only coaches to ever win the prestigious honor.

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This season, Saban led the Tide to a perfect 13-0 record after securing his seventh total national championship, thanks to a 52-24 rout of Ohio State on Monday night. He has coached more games (86) as the Associated Press’ No. 1 team than any other active head coach.

With the latest national title, Saban has now broken the late Bryant’s all-time record. However, both men are tied for national championships won in Tuscaloosa, as Saban won his first at LSU.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 days ago

Alabama basketball team defeats blue blood Kentucky by 20 to stay undefeated in conference play

(Alabama Athletics/Contributed)

Just a day after Alabama’s football team won the national championship, the Tide basketball team pulled off a 20-point victory over the Kentucky Wildcats.

Nate Oats is in just his second year as head coach of the Crimson Tide hoop squad, but he is already putting the program on the map. Kentucky is one of the biggest names in basketball and the biggest in the SEC.

This is only the second win for the Tide in the last 14 meetings between the two teams, and the first win in Rupp Arena since 2006.

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After the game, Oats sat down for his post-game interview to discuss the victory they just had over a historically good team. On his team defeating a great Kentucky team, Oats said, “Obviously Kentucky is a little down this year, but they are still Kentucky. They have got pros on that team that our guys went head to head with and guarded.”

Oats has come in and revitalized the school’s basketball program and is now 5-0 in conference play for the first time in a long time. To do this Alabama has had to defeat big names like Florida, Auburn and now Kentucky.

Of all of these, none were as impressive as defeating the Wildcats by 20 points, considering they were also undefeated in league play.

On the keys to getting the win against a great team, Oats said, “I thought the whole defensive philosophy and just getting stops when we needed to. … Obviously, it helps when you make threes. So, it’s great when you have shooters like Petty and Shack. Our big guys can also make shots and Primo played good as well.”

The Crimson Tide are loaded with experienced upper-classmen, and they came through in a big way Tuesday night. In particular, senior John Petty had a fantastic showing with 23 points and shooting over 50% from beyond the arc.

On what role he had to play with a few players out against Kentucky, Petty advised, “The same role I’ve been playing. Even though Herb went out, we still have got leadership on our team.”

Petty continued by saying, “It was just a collective effort, everybody holding each other accountable, and everybody responding to the adversity. I feel like all of our guys stayed focused on staying locked in on the game plan to get the W.”

Petty has struggled to get going at times this year, but really came alive on Tuesday and led the team in scoring. He also added five rebounds to his stat line.

Herb Jones is probably the Tide’s best player and is on average hitting over half of his three-pointers. His coach and teammates brag about the leadership he has in the locker room.

In the first half of the game, Jones went out with an unfortunate hand injury. The extent of the injury is unknown, but he did not return to the game. This could be a huge loss to the Tide, and the team will be hopeful for some good news coming from the trainers soon.

On Jones’ injury, Oats stated, “Our trainers said he will be evaluated in the morning … it’s his hand, finger injury. So, we will have an update, hopefully sometime tomorrow afternoon.”

Oats was asked about Jones again later in his post-game interview and gave a little more information by saying, “From what I’ve heard on the top rope, it looks like he is going to be out for a little while.”

Turnovers are always a key stat to look at in basketball, and Alabama won that battle by forcing Kentucky to turn the ball over 19 times in the game. They were also able to move the ball around well, more than doubling the Wildcats’ assist total.

Bama has started off hot in conference play, and things don’t get easier just yet. Arkansas is coming to Tuscaloosa Saturday boasting a 10-2 record and a dominating rebound duo of Justin Smith and Connor Vanover. The Razorbacks are coming off a huge performance beating Georgia by 30 and will be a tough test for the Tide when they host them this coming Saturday.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

6 days ago

Alabama Crimson Tide roll against Ohio State, complete historic undefeated season

(Alabama Athletics/Twitter)

The University of Alabama has won the college football national championship for the 18th time in school history.

The Crimson Tide on Monday night added to their legacy of being the best college football program ever by winning the College Football Playoff.

Head coach Nick Saban also solidified himself as perhaps the greatest college football coach of all time, adding a seventh title for his personal record. Six of those came at Alabama, with the other one coming at LSU.

Dynasty is the word used to describe the Tide football program, and that has never been more evident than after their 52-24 demolition of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Bama has now won six championships in the last 11 years.

Saban keeps saying this team is special, though, and we can see why after the season has come to an end. The players on this team were all top recruits, but it wasn’t the same as the other championship seasons.

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Saban said after the game, “To go undefeated, win 11 SEC games, and win the National Championship… I can’t tell you how proud I am of that.” He continued to praise his team, saying, “I really can’t say enough, and I can’t really put it into words in terms of how proud I am of this group, this team. They are the ultimate team.”

Quarterback Mac Jones was considered not good enough by naysayers coming into the season, and receiver DeVonta Smith was likewise considered not big or strong enough for the SEC earlier in his career. On defense, the beginning of the season was rough, and analysts everywhere said that the Tide didn’t have a good enough unit to go all the way.

This year, Alabama was counted out for the first time in a while, but the Tide proved everybody wrong.

Jones was a Heisman finalist and finished his season with exactly 4,500 passing yards after putting up 464 in the title game. He also tossed five touchdowns in the championship game.

Three of those touchdown passes were to Heisman Trophy winner Smith. The receiver proved everybody wrong about his size by finishing the season with 23 receiving touchdowns as well as getting the offensive MVP in the title game.

Saban had some high praise for the receiver when joining ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt on Sports Center after the game, remarking, “He is the ultimate team guy. He sets a great example for his teammates he cares about his teammates, and he sets a great example for them every day. He is hard to beat, and I just love that guy.”

On the change in Bama’s offensive style the past few years, Saban added, “We have gradually changed throughout the years to be more spread oriented, but still sort of drop-back concepts with our passes and legitimate play-action passes. It is sort of that blend.” Saban continued, “We knew we would have to throw the ball to win, and we did it effectively.”

As for the defense being counted out this season for the Tide, that may have been the most upside-down prediction of the year. This defense has grown each and every week of this season. With names emerging such as Patrick Surtain, Elijah Moore and Christian Barmore, the boys in Crimson shut down the Buckeyes, who went into the game perceived to be an offensive juggernaut.

Barmore, who won the defensive MVP on the night, emerged a little late in the year. He basically had his coming out party in the championship game — and what a time to shine.

On the Tide defense, Barmore had this to say: “We are all brothers. We all fight together, practice hard together, and just do everything together. Nobody has as strong a relationship as we do as a whole team.”

The defense as a whole held Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields to just 194 yards in the air, and only one touchdown.

To begin closing out his post-game interview, Saban said, “To me, this team accomplished more than almost any team… this team won 11 SEC games. They won the SEC, and then went undefeated in the SEC. Then they beat two great teams in the playoffs with no real break in the schedule.”

It was truly a special year for the Crimson Tide players, coaches and fans. The Tide overcame so many obstacles this year to get to the point they are at now. With COVID concerns threatening the season even happening, as well as players and coaches missing games, it is amazing to see the Crimson Tide finishing dominantly on top.

As Saban would say, it’s time to get back to work. Roll Tide.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

6 days ago

Alabama fans can buy national championship gear here

(Alabama Athletics/Twitter)

The University of Alabama Crimson Tide routed Ohio State 52-24 on Monday night to win the College Football Playoff National Championship Game for the 2020 season.

Immediately following the final whistle, the Alabama Athletics official online store went live with championship gear for sale, including official locker room attire.

Hats, shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, cups, footballs and other paraphernalia can currently be purchased through the link here.

For a limited time only, free shipping is available for all orders through RollTide.com.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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7 days ago

National Championship preview: Ohio State vs. Alabama

(College Football Playoff/Facebook, YHN)

The College Football Playoff National Championship is finally here.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are considered to be the best team by most, but the Ohio State Buckeyes shocked the world in their 49-28 rout of Clemson in the playoff semifinals.

Bama handled their business, too, but most people saw a demolition of Notre Dame coming before the opening kickoff of that game considering the Crimson Tide is loaded Heisman Trophy finalists all over the field and a defense that has improved each and every week of the season.

First, let’s see how we got to this point, even during the crazy year that was 2020.

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How we got here

No one knew if there was even going to be a National Championship or even a season a few months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, teams made their voices heard that they wanted to play. One of those young men that fought for a season was Ohio State star quarterback Justin Fields.

While Fields has been impressive this year, he showed out when it really mattered against Clemson. It is reasonable to think that he is fighting extra hard as one of the players that helped the Big 10 Conference even have a season.

Generally, there is a consensus out there that Ohio State only having played eight games doesn’t give them a right to even be playing in this game. Fans of the Buckeyes will argue that after the win over Clemson, they do deserve it.

Yet, the argument is not over the talent of the team at all.

Football seasons are long and challenging for a team. There have been more injuries, fatigue and plays called for the Tide. So, while Ohio State’s team is fresh, Bama is the opposite after a 10-game SEC schedule.

Also, play calling goes into the argument because Alabama has had to show everything that they have to stay perfect, while the Buckeyes could still have some tricks up their sleeve.

How Alabama wins

Cliché answers would be too easy here, no matter how easy it would to say “just get off the bus.”

Tide coach Nick Saban is the greatest college football coach of all time, and there is no debate. This year has seemed to mean a little more to him ever since he had to sit out a game due to COVID. Post-game he said he didn’t want to take being on the sidelines for granted anymore.

Saban also hasn’t won a title since 2017, which is a bit of a drought for him.

DeVonta Smith would also be a lazy answer to why the Tide will win. Smith just won the Heisman Trophy and was the most dominant college player in recent memory for any team. Up to this point, he has 1,641 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns on the season.

Quarterback Mac Jones is another member of the “big three” at Bama and has put up unbelievable numbers this season. Jones has thrown for over 4,000 yards this year. He has also thrown 36 touchdowns to only four interceptions on the year. That is an impressive ratio already, but consider that two of those were actually tipped passes.

For running back Najee Harris, it has been a quiet season. Not for his play at all, but for the media hype around him. Harris has been loud on the field with over 1,300 rushing yards this season and more touchdowns than Smith.

It is unfortunate that Harris has been overshadowed by the other two aforementioned star players. Yes, it’s understandable why. Yet, Harris can run, catch and truck any player in his path. In case you didn’t know he can also jump over defenders.

The real key to Alabama’s success is the way this team has worked together. Saban has a secret of success, and it is making sure everybody plays their role. Somehow, he convinces all these five-star athletes to not be the star of the team.

If everybody stays focused on the goal ahead and trusts the process, the Tide will get the win today. However, with the season ending and the draft coming up, it is easy to try to show out on the biggest stage. If everyone for Alabama stays grounded and plays as hard as they have all year, they should have no problem with Ohio State.

How Ohio State wins

Ohio State is sick of being told they shouldn’t be here. They are ready to challenge the best team in the country.

The Buckeyes definitely have the talent and resources to get the job done.

Everyone knows who star Fields is, especially considering he has been in the headlines seemingly every week since transferring from Georgia.

Fields has thrown for an unbelievable 1,906 yards this year, as well as 21 touchdowns. He has a chance to hit the 2,000-yard passing mark by the end of this game.

He very well could, but he may be too banged up. Everything needs to be perfect for Ohio State to pull off the upset. One thing that is far from perfect is your star quarterback struggling to walk around after a brutal hit to the abdomen in the playoff game versus Clemson.

Yes, Fields still showed out after the hit, but there was no doubt he was banged up.

Alabama has a strong history of winning, but they also have a recent history of struggling with mobile quarterbacks. Fields is about as mobile as it gets, and if he is somehow back to full strength this week, the Tide defense will have to be ready.

Speaking of defense, Ohio State has a really good one.

Even after losing players like Chase Young to the NFL last year, there are some great players on that side of the ball for OSU. The secondary in particular was impressive against Clemson. This is a secondary that was able to keep star Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence down.

Lawrence, who will most likely go number one in the upcoming NFL Draft, is one of the best mechanical quarterbacks to come through the college ranks in recent history. Yet, the Buckeye defense was able to make him look average in the semifinals.

Monday’s game could turn into a shootout quickly, which Ohio State likely wants to prevent due to the weapons Bama has on offense.

The main key for OSU will be to keep the Bama offense off track. The defense for the Buckeyes has to limit big plays as much as they can, and their offense has to drag out their drives. The goal here should be to keep the ball out of Alabama’s hands as much as possible.

The big game will air on ESPN and elsewhere tonight at 7:00 p.m. CT. Alabama will look to get revenge on the team that defeated them in the semifinals back in the 2015 Sugar Bowl. Ohio State will be going for their second championship in the playoff Era.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

7 days ago

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt places ‘friendly wager’ on Crimson Tide victory

(Robert Aderholt, Rep. Troy Balderson/Facebook, YHN)

Ahead of Monday night’s national championship matchup between the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and Ohio State University Buckeyes, Congressmen Robert Aderholt (AL-04) and Troy Balderson (R-OH) have announced a traditional wager of home state delicacies on the result of the big game.

Aderholt is wagering a Bama In a Box gift basket that includes products such as Yellowhammer State-made Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q Sauce, Golden Eagle Popcorn and Alabama grits. Meanwhile, Balderson is wagering a basket of Ohio-made chocolate buckeyes and Cheryl’s Cookies.

“Alabama plays in the National Championship game so much, it’s almost like a holiday here in our state,“ said Aderholt in a statement. His district covers parts of Tuscaloosa.

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“And what’s a holiday without some sweet treats? I’m sure those Ohio Buckeyes will fit the bill just perfectly,” Aderholt continued. “But all kidding aside, I want to thank Congressman Balderson and his staff for putting together this friendly wager. Good luck to both teams, but of course Roll Tide!”

“In Ohio, we’re all Buckeyes, so it would be incredible if we took home the trophy tonight for the first time in six years,” commented Balderson. “I thank my colleague, Congressman Aderholt, for joining me in some lighthearted inter-state rivalry, and I can’t wait to enjoy some Alabama barbecue and grits. In all seriousness, I wish both teams the best of luck, and go Bucks!”

RELATED: ESPN providing 14 broadcasts of CFB Championship, including with Eli Gold as announcer

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

ESPN providing 14 broadcasts of CFB Championship, including with Eli Gold as announcer

(ESPN/Contributed)

ESPN is giving Monday’s College Football National Championship game the “Megacast” treatment, providing fans 14 different ways to enjoy the matchup between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Ohio State Buckeyes.

Of interest to Bama fans, longtime Crimson Tide radio broadcaster Eli Gold will have his call of the game simulcast on SEC Network. He will be joined for the game by John Parker Wilson, Rashad Johnson and Chris Stewart. Their radio feed will be synced with ESPN’s television broadcast.

The main presentation on ESPN itself will again feature announcers Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, their seventh championship game in a row.

The broadcasts are set to begin on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. CT.

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For fans of football’s Xs and Os, ESPNews is providing a “Film Room” broadcast where a crew of current and former college football coaches will be offering their analysis of the game.

Currently scheduled to appear are former Auburn Coach and BCS Champion Gene Chizik, Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson, Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze and North Carolina A&T’s Sam Washington. ESPN advises the lineup of coaches may change.

ESPN2 will feature a presentation called “CFB Live.” Draft expert Todd McShay will be joined by NFL analysts Laura Rutledge, Marcus Spears, Dan Orlovsky and Mina Kimes for the broadcast, which appears to be designed for those most interested in the professional game who want to get a look at the talent that will soon be playing on Sundays.

Former Tide quarterback Greg McElroy will announce his first national championship game as he joins veteran play-by-play man Sean McDonough for the ESPN Radio presentation of the championship.

ESPNU will have host the “SkyCast,” in which the camera stays above the players and behind the offense for most plays. Jason Fitz and Mike Golic, Jr. will provide commentary “out of commercial breaks before throwing back to the sounds of the game,” per an ESPN release.

An ultra high definition 4K version of the SkyCast called the “Skycam” will be available to DIRECTV, Comcast and Optimum customers.

Six options will be available for those streaming the game via the ESPN app, per an annoucement from the company.

    1. Command Center – Multi-angle presentation, which includes up to four different vantage points at any one time, with statistics and real-time drive charts supplementing the game action.
    2. DataCenter – A catch-all viewing option, as ESPN’s main telecast will be surrounded by real-time stats, analytics, social media commentary and player information. ESPN commentators Zubin Mehenti and Brad Edwards will be featured on the feed.
    3. Hometown Radio, Ohio State Version – Fans can listen to the local radio broadcast, hosted by Paul Keels, Jim Lachey, Matt Andrews and Skip Mosic, with their audio feed synced up with ESPN’s presentation.
    4. Refcast – John Parry (former NFL referee) and Matt Austin (former SEC referee) join Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards and ESPN commentator Jason Benetti to break down the game, as Parry and Austin provide reaction and commentary from a referee’s perspective.
    5. All-22 – Watch the game the same way players and coaches study film, with a vantage point high above the field of play. The angle allows for the 22 players on the field to be seen at all times, providing the ability to distinguish how plays develop.
    6. High Skycam – showcasing the action from… heights above the field.

Viewers preferring to watch the game in Spanish will have access to that option via ESPN Deportes, whose broadcast will be done by Eduardo Varela and Pablo Viruega.

Anyone who wants to see coverage of the contest before, during and after kickoff can tune to the SEC Network beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Monday for 15 hours of continuous championship game coverage.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

1 week ago

USA band members participate in national championship performance

(USA/Contributed)

The University of South Alabama will be a part of college football’s 2021 national championship game. Not on the field, but virtually.

Seven members of the Jaguar Marching Band will be performing in the College Band Directors National Association Intercollegiate Marching Band. They will join nearly 1,500 performers from 200 bands in 45 states and Puerto Rico, all working together to produce a virtual college marching band show.

“There was a ‘call for performers’ asking for band directors across the country to nominate their students to be a part of something special, something that has never been done before,” said Dr. Jason Rinehart, South’s director of athletic bands and associate professor of music.

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Rinehart says he chose the students based on leadership abilities and representation from the various sections in the band. All seven of his nominations were selected to participate.

“I knew that I had selected very strong candidates,” he said. “I’m always saying that the students we have here at South Alabama can stack up against any school in the country, and I was right!”

The members of the Jaguar Marching Band selected are Grant Skinner, junior, drum major; Cecelia Prentiss, senior, assistant drum major; Michaela Rader, senior, feature twirler; Sam Goecke, junior drumline; Tyler Butler, senior, trumpet; Israel Valenzuela, senior, saxophone; and Victoria French, senior, piccolo.

“After learning about what this experience has to offer, I knew it would be a great opportunity to showcase the talents of not only members of the Jaguar Marching Band, but of musicians around the country that have most likely had their marching season affected due to the ongoing pandemic,” Skinner said.

The Intercollegiate Marching Band will perform “End of Time” by Beyonce in a video that will premiere online on the Intercollegiate Marching Band YouTube channel.

“This is going to be a historical performance,” said Dr. Mark Spede, president of CBDNA and the director of bands at Clemson University. “In this unusual year when bands have been unable to perform their traditional pregame and halftime shows during college football games, we are pleased to offer this opportunity.”

All band members were required to learn the music, then record and submit a video of themselves performing it. Those videos were edited together into the final product.

“I had a great experience being a part of the virtual band,” French said. “I am looking forward to seeing the final product and witnessing the wide variety of band members come together to create this show.”

COVID-19 has canceled many activities, but the virus allowed people to get creative and expand opportunities for band members across the nation.

“With the creation of this video, hundreds of students have been given the opportunity to perform at one of the nation’s most popular sporting events,” Butler said. “That is a pretty special opportunity as a musician.”

(Courtesy of the University of South Alabama)

1 week ago

Alabama’s basketball team looks like legitimate tournament team in win over Auburn

(Alabama Men's Basketball, Auburn Men's Basketball/Facebook, YHN

The Iron Bowl on the Hardwood is complete after Alabama escaped Auburn Arena with a 94-90 victory in a thrilling game.

The Tide basketball team has been trending upwards under head coach Nate Oats, and Saturday was a big step towards getting where they want to be. Auburn has been up in recent years, but this season has started off slow for the Tigers.

That all changed when freshman point guard Sharife Cooper took the floor for the first time this season after finally being cleared eligible by the NCAA late Friday. Cooper was electrifying on the court, but, more than anything, opened up the floor for other players on his team.

Even with Cooper scoring 26 points and adding nine assists, Bama was able to pull out a win in Auburn Arena for the first time in six meetings.

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Tide freshman Joshua Primo looked like a seasoned veteran in Saturday’s win, scoring a team-high 22 points. He started off the game 4-6 from beyond the arc to give the guys in crimson an early lead.

Alongside freshman Primo were the three starting seniors Jordan Bruner, Jaden Shackelford and Herb Jones. Those three seniors accounted for over half of Alabama’s points, and, more importantly, controlled the game. They slowed the game down and were the key ingredient to a win in a close ending.

On the flip side, Auburn didn’t have a single senior on the court all game long, which can hurt a young team in a close game.

The most veteran player for Auburn was junior Jamal Johnson, a transfer from Memphis, who had 10 points and shot 50% from downtown.

John Petty and Herb Jones for the Tide are the names fans hear the most in leading the team to victory, but Petty was not able to get things going until late. Yet, his leadership was evident all game long and is arguably the reason for the Tide’s success Saturday.

Alabama is now 4-0 in the SEC and will travel to Rupp Arena to face off against another SEC power, Kentucky. Although the Wildcats have looked unrecognizable so far this season, they are still loaded with talent, and Alabama will have its hands full.

Auburn falls to 0-4 in the conference with this loss and will travel to Athens to face off against the Georgia Bulldogs on Wednesday to try to break their losing streak.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

1 week ago

Iron Bowl on the Hardwood preview: Things are different for Alabama and Auburn this year

Alabama and Auburn hate each other on the gridiron, and everybody knows it.

What outsiders might not know is that the hate extends year-round for the fans of the two schools, including basketball season. The Alabama Crimson Tide will travel to Auburn Arena to take on the Auburn Tigers, a recent top-tier power in SEC basketball.

Auburn’s rise

Auburn basketball has steadily grown from a below-average team with a decent season sprinkled in every 10 years, to a powerful program with a recent Final Four run and NBA production.

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A season after the Tigers’ magical 2018-2019 season under Bruce Pearl’s leadership, they went an incredible 25-6 during the regular season with a late-season peak similar to the year before. However, this time, a global pandemic shut down the tournament and ended the Tigers’ season early.

Alabama hires Nate Oats

Alabama fans, on the other hand, are worried about a National Championship game against Ohio State on Monday and do not have as much of an interest in this game as usual. Yet, there will still be plenty of Tide fans tuning in.

Head coach Nate Oats has only been at Alabama for two seasons, but the turnaround is underway and showing signs of things to come.

When Auburn started investing in basketball facilities, high-profile coaches and a new arena, Bama knew it couldn’t slip behind. So, not long after Auburn brought in Bruce Pearl, Alabama hired Avery Johnson.

Johnson was a good hire that just ended up not being a perfect fit, but the Tigers added some pressure by being the first team in the state to make it to the Final Four. This paved the way for Johnson to leave and Oats to come in.

The Alabama basketball team is now 3-0 in conference play under Oats this season, including wins over ranked Tennessee and a historically good Florida team.

The absence of the Jungle

On paper, Alabama should defeat Auburn with relative ease. However, Auburn is used to being the underdog and usually performs better when doubted. In a game that means so much to both fan bases, Auburn is missing one of its biggest weapons.

No, not Sharife Cooper, who the NCAA still hasn’t declared eligible or not, but the Jungle. That’s right, the student section for Auburn that makes Auburn Arena one of the toughest venues to play at in the entire country.

How powerful is the home-court advantage at Auburn Arena?

When playing in front of the Jungle the three previous seasons, Auburn’s record was 46-4. That is an incredible testament to the atmosphere inside at home.

With all of that being said, Alabama will not have to worry much about what Tide star John Petty calls “some of the best fans, probably, in the NCAA,” when discussing the Jungle.

With Bama hoops starting to look like a serious contender in the SEC, and Auburn struggling to get going without a true point guard, look for the Tide to take this game, especially with the Jungle not at full capacity.

The Iron Bowl on Hardwood will be this Saturday at 11:00 a.m. CT. Tune into ESPN 2 to watch the heated rivalry and see if Pearl’s Tigers get upset, or if Oats and company can cruise past their arch-rival.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

1 week ago

Bama players win seven national awards Thursday night

(Alabama Football/Twitter)

University of Alabama football players captured a total of seven individual national awards on Thursday night.

This includes six at the virtual ESPN College Football Awards Show presented by Home Depot, in addition to senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith being named the 2020 Walter Camp Player of the Year by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

In earning that honor — which is awarded annually to the most outstanding player of the year in college football who has exemplified the qualities of self-discipline, unselfish team play, desire to excel, mature judgement and respect for leadership —  Smith joined only past Alabama winners Derrick Henry (2015) and Tua Tagovailoa (2018).

Smith on the night also was presented the prestigious Biletnikoff and Maxwell awards.

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The Biletnikoff is awarded annually to the top pass-catcher in college football, while the Maxwell annually recognizes the top player in college football. This comes after Smith was announced as the winner of college football’s most coveted honor, the Heisman Trophy, on Monday night.

He is the first player in college football history to win the Heisman, Maxwell, Walter Camp and Biletnikoff in a single season.

RELATED: DeVonta Smith’s first words after winning Heisman: ‘I’d like to thank God’

Overall, the Crimson Tide had a big night on Thursday.

Landon Dickerson won the Rimington, presented annually to the most outstanding center; Najee Harris earned the Doak Walker, presented annually to the nation’s premier running back for his accomplishments on the field, achievement in the classroom and citizenship in the community; Mac Jones scored the Davey O’Brien, presented annually to the nation’s best college quarterback; and Alex Leatherwood was awarded the Outland, presented annually to the top interior lineman in college football (offense or defense).

Notably, Jones became Alabama’s first ever winner of the Davey O’Brien Award; he also won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award earlier this week.

It should further be noted that the Tide had six players earn first team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation, the most in the history of Walter Camp voting: Dickerson, Harris, Jones, Leatherwood, Smith and defensive back Patrick Surtain II.

With the release of the Walter Camp team, Dickerson, Harris, Leatherwood, Smith and Surtain cemented unanimous All-America status, while Jones picked up consensus All-America recognition.

Alabama’s current roster featuring seven first team All-Americans ties the 2011 roster for the most first-teamers in a single season in program history. The five unanimous selections are the most in program history, surpassing the previous high of three by the 2016 squad. That total also matches the NCAA single-season mark by one team, tying the 2003 Oklahoma roster.

Nick Saban’s squad is scheduled to play Ohio State in the National Championship on Monday evening.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 weeks ago

Report: Harsin staffs up at Auburn, hires Mike Bobo as offensive coordinator and Derek Mason as defensive coordinator

(@CoachMikeBobo/Twitter, Auburn Athletics, @CoachDerekMason/Twitter, YHN)

Auburn University head football coach Bryan Harsin has reportedly selected his top assistants for his first season on The Plains.

Derek Mason, formerly the head coach of Vanderbilt, will be the Tigers’ new defensive coordinator. Mike Bobo, previously the offensive coordinator for South Carolina, will have that same position at Auburn.

Mason, 51, is coming to Auburn after six years as the head coach of the Commodores; he was previously the defensive coordinator at Stanford.

Bobo, 46, spent five years as the head coach of Colorado State before leading the Gamecocks’ offense in 2020.

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News of Mason’s hiring was first reported by Alabama Media Group, and the website FootballScoop published the first definitive report of Bobo coming to Auburn.

Former Auburn DC Kevin Steele was not retained after Gus Malzahn’s firing, and former OC Chad Morris suffered the same fate.

Derek Mason

Derek Mason is Vanderbilt’s second-winningest coach in the program’s history and produced defenses that earned praise from close observers of the sport.

National outlets reported that multiple high-profile programs had a strong interest in Mason as DC. He was let go during the 2020 season after his team did not secure a win through their first eight games.

Before his time in Nashville, Mason was hired on to Jim Harbaugh’s staff as the defensive backs coach at Stanford. He ascended the ranks among Cardinal coaches to become the defensive coordinator there in 2011.

For his work on the 2012 season, Mason was named a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to college football’s best assistant coach. He was hired to lead Vanderbilt’s program in January 2014.

During much of his tenure as the head coach of the Commodores, Mason often assumed many of the responsibilities normally delegated to a defensive coordinator, in many years calling plays himself on Saturdays in the fall.

Mike Bobo

After his dismissal from Colorado State, Bobo was hired under former South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp in 2019.

Bobo was named South Carolina’s interim head coach and led the team for their last three games after the program fired Muschamp. The program ultimately installed Shane Beamer as Muschamp’s replacement.

ESPN reported Thursday that Bobo’s offensive line coach Will Friend will move with Bobo to Auburn, where he will have the same title he did at South Carolina.

Prior to his time at Colorado State, Bobo spent 15 years on the staff at Georgia, ascending to the role of offensive coordinator from 2007 – 2014 under then-head coach Mark Richt.

Bobo was a finalist for the Broyles Award for best college assistant coach in 2012 — the same year as Mason was a finalist for the same honor.

The two men are expected to receive an official announcement from Auburn University officials in the coming days.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

2 weeks ago

DeVonta Smith’s first words after winning Heisman: ‘I’d like to thank God’

(ESPN/Twitter)

After winning the Heisman Trophy on Tuesday evening, Alabama Crimson Tide star DeVonta Smith immediately thanked his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

To begin his live acceptance speech delivered virtually to the world, Smith declared, “First off, I’d like to thank God.”

“Without Him, none of this would be possible,” he continued.

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Smith subsequently congratulated the other three finalists, including his teammate and quarterback Mac Jones, who was seated beside Smith and embraced him after the award winner was named.

In his remarks, Smith also thanked the family members, friends, coaches and mentors who have helped him get to this point in his collegiate career.

His speech provided insight into the mind of a champion — and the type of mentality that makes Tide head coach Nick Saban lavish praise on Smith’s character.

“With team success comes individual success,” Smith commented. “To all the young kids out there that aren’t the biggest, not the strongest — just keep pushing. Because I’m not the biggest, I’ve been doubted a lot just because of my size, and really it just comes down to if you put your mind to it and do it. No job is too big; if you put your mind to it, you can do it. Just keep believing in God and you’ll get where you want to be.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 weeks ago

Alabama’s DeVonta Smith wins Heisman Trophy, first receiver to do so since ’91

(The Heisman Trophy/Facebook, Alabama Athletics, YHN)

University of Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith on Tuesday evening was named the winner of the Heisman Trophy for the 2020 season.

Smith becomes the first receiver since 1991 to win college football’s preeminent annual honor. He is now Bama’s third-ever winner of the award, after Mark Ingram in 2009 and Derrick Henry in 2015.

Due to COVID-19, this year’s ceremony was held virtually on ESPN.

Smith was one of four finalists, along with his teammate and quarterback Mac Jones.

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Florida QB Kyle Trask and Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence rounded out the group.

Alabama’s Najee Harris finished fifth in the award voting.

Smith on Tuesday was also named the winner of the Paul Hornung Award, which is given to college football’s most versatile player. He has taken on primary punt returning duties this season after the injury to Jaylen Waddle against Tennessee.

“I am truly honored to be named the winner of the Paul Hornung Award,” Smith stated. “I take pride in being the most complete and versatile football player I can possibly be, and to have my name mentioned in the same breath as Paul Hornung is truly special.”

Alabama’s leader in all-purpose yards with 1,912 (an average of 159.3 yards per game), Smith lead the nation in receiving yards, touchdown receptions and yards after catch. He also averaged 24.3 yards per punt return with one touchdown. Smith, a senior, was named a consensus First Team All-American.

The Tide are scheduled to play Ohio State in the National Championship on Monday evening.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 weeks ago

Alabama offensive line named nation’s best for 2020 season

(Alabama Football/Twitter)

The Joe Moore Foundation for Teamwork on Monday presented the Alabama offensive line with the 2020 Joe Moore Award during a surprise virtual presentation in Tuscaloosa’s Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility.

The Crimson Tide previously won this award recognizing the most outstanding offensive line unit in college football in its inaugural year in 2015, making Alabama both the first recipient and first two-time recipient of this prestigious honor.

This season, Bama’s starting o-line has featured senior left tackle Alex Leatherwood (12 starts), redshirt senior left guard Deonte Brown (12 starts), redshirt senior center Landon Dickerson (11 starts), redshirt sophomore Emil Ekiyor, Jr. (12 starts) and sophomore right tackle Evan Neal (11 starts), while redshirt senior Chris Owens has one start at center and one start at right tackle. Leatherwood and Dickerson are both consensus All-Americans.

“I think this is one of the awards that I really cherish the most because it’s one of the few that honors a group of players, and the offensive line is a special group of guys,” Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban said in a statement.

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“They all seem to have similar personalities,” he continued. “They all have the same kind of competitive characteristics. They probably play more together as a unit and as a group in terms of how they communicate, how they combination block and all those things than any other group in football. I think this is a tremendous thing that they continue to do in Joe Moore’s honor because it does mean a lot to our group, who has won it before.”

The Joe Moore Award voting committee judges solely on six criteria: toughness, effort, teamwork, consistency, technique and finishing. It is the only award in college football that celebrates a group or unit.

The honor is named after Joe Moore, widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in college football history, most notably for his work at Notre Dame and the University of Pittsburgh. He sent 52 players on to the NFL in his career.

Alabama’s starting offensive line has only allowed quarterback Mac Jones to be sacked nine times in 12 games on 379 drop backs — or one sack per 42.1 drop backs — while Jones leads the nation in passing efficiency. The Tide also ranks second nationally in rushing touchdowns with 35 (2.92 per game) while racking up over 185 yards per game in rushing offense. The offensive front has blocked for the nation’s top-ranked Power Five scoring offense (48.2 ppg), the No. 1 pass efficiency offense (198.48) and No. 5 total offense (535.0).

The veteran group boasts 126 career starts and their play has been the catalyst behind Alabama’s three Heisman Trophy candidates: Najee Harris, Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith (Jones and Smith are two of four finalists, while Harris finished fifth).

The Joe Moore Award trophy, crafted by legendary sports sculptor Jerry McKenna, is the largest trophy in college football, standing at a height of six feet and weighing in at 800 pounds. The perpetual trophy is made available for display by the winning university until the conclusion of the following college football season.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 weeks ago

Mac Jones wins Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award for best upperclassman QB in college football

Alabama football/Twitter

Alabama Crimson Tide Quarterback Mac Jones has won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award for the nation’s best college football quarterback set to graduate with his class.

Jones’ selection was announced on Monday by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Education Foundation, the organization that oversees the award.

The Golden Arm Award is among several notable of several honors Jones earned with his performance on the field in 2020, including selection as an All American by the Associated Press, ESPN.com, Pro Football Focus, The Sporting News and USA Today.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the presentation of the award will be conducted virtually and released on Thursday, January 7.

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Alabama’s quarterback is also a finalist for the Heisman Trophy for college football’s best player, though his teammate DeVonta Smith is the favorite to take home that honor.

Jones threw for 4,036 yards over the season, good for an average of 336.8 per game. His 77.0 completion percentage led the NCAA and he set a school record by having four games where he threw for over 400 yards.

On-field play is not the only factor in deciding the Golden Arm Award, per a release from its governing foundation. The voters also factor in “character, citizenship, integrity and those who honor the game.”

The selection committee for the Golden Arm Award is composed of “a group of prominent football journalists, former coaches and players, general managers, commentators, announcers, and other former award recipients.”

Jones is the third Crimson Tide quarterback to earn the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, after AJ McCarron in 2013 and Jay Barker in 1994.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

2 weeks ago

Oddsmakers say Bama’s DeVonta Smith heavy favorite to win Heisman

(Univ. of Alabama Athletics)

Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith is the heavy favorite to take home this year’s Heisman trophy, according to national sportsbooks.

As of 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the sports betting website Draftkings has Smith at -1000 (a bettor would have to place $1,000 on Smith to take home $100).

FanDuel, another online gambling provider, has Smith at -500 to take home the award.

Betting website MyBookie is even more bullish on Smith’s chances, listing Smith at -1500.

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The three oddsmakers agree that Smith’s quarterback, Mac Jones, is the second most likely contender to win the Heisman, followed by Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence.

Florida Gators quarterback Kyle Trask is seen by sportsbooks as the least likely of the four finalists to win the award for college football’s best player.

Smith would be the fourth wide receiver in college football history to take home the Heisman, and the first since Michigan Wolverine Desmond Howard earned the award for his performance in the 1991 season.

The Heisman Ceremony is set to air on Tuesday, January 5 at 6:00 p.m. CST on ESPN.

The finalists and presenters will not be in the same room for the presentation due to the coronavirus pandemic, with each finalist appearing virtually from their residence.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

2 weeks ago

Report: Jaylen Waddle could play for Alabama in National Championship

(Alabama Athletics/Contributed)

Star Alabama wide receiver and returner Jaylen Waddle is returning to practice on Tuesday, according to a Monday report.

Per Alabama Media Group sources, Waddle could play for the Crimson Tide in the National Championship matchup against Ohio State next Monday, January 11.

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The junior made a tremendous impact when he was on the field for the season’s first four games, with 25 catches for 557 yards and four touchdowns.

He is also an electric playmaker in the return game, as evidenced by being named a first-team All-American returner by CBS Sports and the Football Writers Association of America in 2019.

Waddle was a preseason All-American ahead of this season, which was cut short after an injury on the opening kickoff at Tennessee.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 weeks ago

Alabama handles business in CFP semifinal to secure spot in National Championship for fifth time in seven years

(Alabama Football/Twitter)

Alabama was again dominant in their win over Notre Dame. The Crimson Tide cruised by the Fighting Irish 31-14 in the College Football Playoff semifinal game on Friday.

Nick Saban’s squad is now one win away from their sixth National Championship under the historically successful head coach.

In Saban’s opening remarks of his post-game press conference, he said, “I would like to congratulate Notre Dame’s team on an outstanding year, and you know, a tough game for us. I would also like to congratulate our team who played really well all year long and earned the right to be here.”

Saban continued, “It’s always an honor to say you won a playoff game and won a Rose Bowl. Our players earned that and a right to play in the National Championship Game.”

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Notre Dame without a doubt played well at times in the contest and even performed better overall than some people thought they would. However, the Crimson Tide proved to be too tall of an order for the Irish.

When asked if wide receiver DeVonta Smith solidified himself as the Heisman Trophy winner, Saban answered: “We love it when any of our players get recognized, and Smitty has done as much for our team as any player could do for any team… I don’t get the opportunity to see all players play and really know exactly what they have done for their team, but I would love to see another one of our players win the Heisman Trophy.”

Smith was once again the star of the game, with seven catches for 130 yards and three touchdowns. This is nothing new for the Tide this season. The Bama wideout has been burning opposing defenses all year long.

Mac Jones, as usual, was the key to getting the ball efficiently into Smith’s hands. Jones threw 30 passes, completing 25 of them. He had 297 yards through the air and also carried the ball for 12 yards — which was somehow the second most on the team.

Najee Harris was the leading rusher with 125 yards on the ground. Tonight was the sixth 100-plus yard game for the Tide running back so far this season. This included a long run to move Alabama down the field that featured a video game-like hurdle over a Notre Dame defender.

On how he instructs Harris on jumping over players, Saban remarked, “I actually try to teach him not to do it, but it doesn’t work… When he sees that head go down, man, he’ll go over them in a heartbeat, and it’s been very effective for him.”

Bama was never in trouble in the game, and had their hands less than full with the Fighting Irish. In the first quarter Alabama had already pulled ahead 14-0 and pretty much never looked back.

Saban discussed how his team handled the Irish’s offensive scheme, advising, “They did a lot of shifting and motion and shifting in and out of unbalanced formations… I think they had a good plan against us and did a good job.”

Alabama’s defense showed fans everything they wanted to see. Defensively, the Tide didn’t give Notre Dame room to breathe for most of the game; this included pressuring the quarterback often and an interception by linebacker Christian Harris that seemed to seal the result of the game.

“When you play in games like this you know that the other team practices too. So, they are going to something different, and try to take advantage of something you maybe didn’t do so well on at other points in the season. I think our players did a good job of adjusting to that,” said Saban when discussing how the Notre Dame offense prepared to attack the Bama defense.

Quarterback Ian Book played a decent game, throwing for 229 yards and running for 55 yards and a touchdown. However, when it really mattered the Alabama pass rush kept him at bay.

Part of the defensive success for Alabama has to be credited to Patrick Surtain II, who had an electric defensive performance. Surtain rightfully received defensive Player of the Game honors; Smith earned this honor on offense.

Saban thought this was much deserved, commenting, “Patrick has great size and great speed. He is very instinctive and is a very good athlete that can change direction… he is really smart and does a great job of preparing for a game. We ask our corners to do a lot of bump and run… it is really good to see him recognized tonight as a defensive player.”

Alabama will have to wait a few hours to see who they will face off against in the National Championship Game. Clemson and Ohio State are currently playing as of this writing.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

2 weeks ago

College Football Playoff preview: Alabama will face off against Notre Dame to see who goes to the title game

(College Football Playoff/Facebook, YHN)

The College Football Playoff will officially be underway at 3:00 p.m. CT.

Alabama is not new to the playoffs. They are tied with Clemson for the most playoff appearances, playoff wins and championships in the CFP era. So, needless to say, Bama has been here before and been quite successful along the way.

Notre Dame, on the other hand, has only been to the CFP once before, and that was a humiliating loss to Clemson back in 2018 in which they got beat 30-3.

Speaking of being here before, Alabama and Notre Dame have faced off in a National Championship in relatively recent history. Last time these two met was during the wind-down of the BCS era. Nick Saban and the Tide were just getting started on their way to dynasty status.

The Irish were demolished by Alabama, 42-14.

While some college football experts expect this game to be closer than it was in that 2012 BCS Championship game, horses ought to be held.

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This may be the best Alabama team Saban has ever had. It may even be the best Alabama team ever — period — but let’s discuss that after a championship, because there is still work to be done.

However, Notre Dame should be just a small speed bump on Bama’s road to championship No. 18.

Quarterback Mac Jones is ready to propel himself, as well as his teammate DeVonta Smith, into a huge lead in the Heisman race.

Jones has already thrown for 3,739 yards this season, which is pretty unbelievable considering that was against only SEC teams. Smith has caught 98 passes for over 1,500 yards and should be able to break 100 total receptions in this game.

Smith understandably gets the most attention from fans and media, but there are plenty of other receivers that have stepped up after the unfortunate injury to Jaylen Waddle earlier in the season. John Metchie III and Slade Bolden have both stepped up big for the Tide when their numbers have been called.

The under-appreciated threat this year is the running attack that Alabama uses to keep chopping away at opposing defenses in order to open up the explosive passing attack that gets all of the attention these days.

Najee Harris has over 1,200 yards rushing this season and has been nearly impossible to bring down on first contact. Whether he hurdles you or runs through you, it isn’t going to be easy to bring him down. He will be a big part of this game and should be able to run all over the Irish’s defense.

The offensive line will look a little different this game with center Landon Dickerson out. Dickerson was without a doubt the leader of that line group and an MVP of the team this season. Losing him will be a massive disadvantage if they meet Clemson in the championship game, but against Notre Dame it may not be enough to make the Tide struggle.

Defensively, Alabama no longer has a worry like they did earlier this season. Now, Saban has got his defensive squad tuned up and looking like past Bama defenses. After the Ole Miss game, Saban made sure his boys would not struggle against high powered offenses any more this year.

Aside from the SEC Championship game, they haven’t struggled with anybody since Lane Kiffin’s squad. It would be shocking if Notre Dame was able to be the team to crack the Tide defense.

Overall, this game will be fun for Alabama fans to watch their team dominate a historically great program in a playoff game, but to outsiders this game probably will not be entertaining unless you love blowouts.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

3 weeks ago

This week’s college football bowl, CFP Semifinal TV schedule

(Pixabay)

For a printable version, click here. Pro tip: Save the image below to your phone for quick and easy access all weekend.

(Note: All times are Central)

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Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: zack@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @z_m_shaw

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @hayden_crigler.