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.

3 hours ago

How you can meet Jalen Hurts, other Senior Bowl players on Friday

(Senior Bowl/Facebook)

MOBILE — With the Senior Bowl only one day away, Friday will feature a trio of free events for fans to attend in downtown Mobile.

These events follow the Senior Bowl Summit, which occurred Thursday night and was presented by Alabama Power Company and Regions Bank.

The first event for fans on Friday will be the Senior Bowl Experience, presented by Alabama Power. Hosted at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center, this 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. CT event will feature a bevy of games and activities for all ages.

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The Senior Bowl Experience will also include “Meet the Players,” presented by Coca-Cola.

“Tackle the obstacle course, time your 40yd dash, dance with NFL cheerleaders, take your picture with college mascots, and meet your favorite college all-stars from across the country at the Senior Bowl Experience inside the Mobile Convention Center,” the Senior Bowl wrote about the event.

The Senior Bowl stated that their clear bag policy will be in effect for the Senior Bowl Experience.

Following the Senior Bowl Experience will be the Senior Bowl Street Party and inaugural Mardi Gras Player Parade, presented by Wind Creek Casino and Austal USA. At 6:30 p.m., the parade will begin in front of the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel. You can view the route here.

“Downtown bars and restaurants will provide specials and craft cocktails reflecting Senior Bowl Week,” the Senior Bowl outlined. “Local High School Bands will lead our players (in their college jerseys), college mascots, local dignitaries, NFL cheerleaders, as we throw candy, beads, and footballs to the crowd.”

Finally, when the the Senior Bowl Street Party and inaugural Mardi Gras Player Parade ends at Cathedral Square, a free concert featuring The Revivalists will begin.

You can still get tickets for Saturday’s game, which is at 1:30 p.m. CT, here.

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

17 hours ago

Hurts on Saban: ‘He’s been nothing but supportive’ — ‘It was great to see him’

(Alex Byington/Twitter)

MOBILE — Following the Hallmark-like reunion of University of Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and his former star quarterback Jalen Hurts on Wednesday at a Senior Bowl Week practice, Hurts spoke about how much the moment meant to him.

In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Hurts recounted what was said between himself and the legendary coach.

Asked by one of the interviewers about Saban visibly laughing during the reunion, Hurts explained, “Well, I was walking over there, talking to Ellis [Ponder], he’s the [football] operations guy at Alabama. And I was saying, ‘Coach is going to smile when I walk over to him.'”

Indeed, Saban was all smiles.

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“And he smiled,” Hurts continued. “And I go, ‘Coach, I haven’t seen that smile in a long time.'”

“So, it was good to see him,” he concluded. “You know, Coach Saban and I have a really great relationship. We’ve been in touch throughout the season, and he’s been nothing but supportive for me. It was great to see him.”

You can watch the Yahoo interview here.

Saban told reporters on Wednesday before the reunion that he still considers Hurts as one of his players and a member of the Crimson Tide family.

Hurts is playing for the South Team during the Senior Bowl, along with outgoing Bama players Jared Mayden, Terrell Lewis and Afernee Jennings. Those four players and Saban took a group picture together on Wednesday.

Hurts on Monday was presented with a two-sided helmet ahead of Saturday’s Senior Bowl game; one side is a replica of his iconic No. 2 Bama helmet, and the other has the Oklahoma Sooners logo on it. That special helmet, however, will be preserved by Hurts rather than worn during the game.

Get tickets to Saturday’s Senior Bowl game here.

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

1 day ago

Watch: Nick Saban reunites with Jalen Hurts — ‘I’m proud of you’

(Alex Byington/Twitter)

MOBILE — In what might go down as one of University of Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban’s most raw public moments in recent memory, Saban joyously reunited with his former star quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Hurts, of course, played for the Oklahoma Sooners this past season as a graduate transfer from Alabama. He finished as the runner-up in the 2019 Heisman Trophy voting.

Saban and Hurts have both spoken admiringly about each other since the player transferred, but the public has not gotten the chance to see the legendary coach and beloved quarterback together in person since the 2018 season ended.

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At Senior Bowl Week practice on Wednesday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Saban, though, told reporters without prompting that he still considers Hurts as one of his players — indeed, a member of the Crimson Tide family.

Yet, things gotten even more real from there when Saban and Hurts greeted each other on the field at Ladd-Peebles shortly afterwards.

In a Hallmark moment that was captured by members of the media, Saban and Hurts share an embrace, each beaming from ear to ear.

Hurts could be heard at first inquiring how Saban is doing, followed by the coach requesting to take a picture with Hurts.

“I’m proud of you,” Saban then told him.

The quarterback, who was called a “natural leader” this week by Bama’s outgoing defensive back Jared Mayden, subsequently complimented Saban’s fashion ensemble, especially his overcoat.

“Miss Terry get it for you?” Hurts inquired.

“Oh yeah,” Saban responded with a smile, prompting a chuckle from Hurts.

“Tell her to get me one,” Hurts quipped.

Saban then showed Hurts another piece of his wardrobe under the coat, leading Hurts to comment, “Man, she got you styling.”

“She got that, too,” Saban confirmed.

Saban then posed for another picture — this time with all of his players playing at the Senior Bowl, Hurts included.

The photo featured Hurts, Mayden, Terrell Lewis and Afernee Jennings:

(Alex Byington/Twitter)

It was announced Wednesday that outgoing Bama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis will not play in the Senior Bowl due to an injury.

Hurts on Monday was presented with a two-sided helmet ahead of Saturday’s Senior Bowl game; one side is a replica of his iconic No. 2 Bama helmet, and the other has the Oklahoma Sooners logo on it. That special helmet, however, will be preserved by Hurts rather than worn during the game.

Get tickets to the Senior Bowl game here.

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

1 day ago

Auburn cruises past South Carolina to get back on winning track

(Auburn Basketball/Twitter)

The No. 16 Auburn Tigers basketball team returned to its winning ways with a decisive 80-67 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks on Wednesday night.

Auburn got a boost from small forward Isaac Okoro at the end of a strange first half when Okoro barely beat the buzzer on a tip in. After a sluggish start to the game, Okoro’s basket gave the Tigers a 39-31 lead into the locker room and also provided the Tigers with much-needed momentum going into the second half.

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The catalyst for Auburn was a breakout performance from freshman guard Devan Cambridge, who went for 26 points, including a six of nine performance from behind the three-point line. Coming into Wednesday’s contest, Cambridge had been averaging 10.4 points per game and 25% from three-point range.

Between Cambridge finding his stroke, and Auburn’s ability to really lock down on defense in the final 20 minutes, the game went comfortably toward Auburn for most of the second half.

The Tigers improved to 16-2 overall and 4-2 in the SEC.

Following its two losses last week, Auburn had dropped to a predicted No. 4 seed in the latest NCAA tournament prediction from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. Lunardi’s “Bracketology” is a weekly feature slotting teams according to similar metrics used by the tournament selection committee to make its seedings.

Head coach Bruce Pearl’s squad faces off next with Iowa State on Saturday morning in Auburn Arena as part of the Big 12/SEC challenge. The Cyclones are 9-9 on the season and currently seventh in the Big 12 standings.

2 days ago

Nick Saban: I still consider Jalen Hurts ‘one of our players’

(CBS Sports/Twitter)

MOBILE — Former University of Alabama Crimson Tide star quarterback Jalen Hurts is still beloved by many in Bama nation, including head coach Nick Saban.

Saban has spoken this past year about his respect and admiration for Hurts. However, speaking to members of the media on Wednesday at the second day of Senior Bowl Week practices at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Saban made it clear he really feels that Hurts is still part of the Tide family.

To open his remarks, Saban said, “My only comment is we’re glad to be here. It’s always great to come back to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. It’s such a tradition, and I think this community really embraces this game.”

“It’s really good for the players to have the opportunity to showcase their talent, any player from any place but especially good to see our players be able to do it — and Jalen, who I still consider one of our players … always good to be here to support our players,” Saban continued.

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The legendary coach then answered questions for approximately four minutes.

He discussed what NFL teams will like about both Hurts and outgoing Tide junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Watch:

This came after Hurts this week has spoken highly of the University of Alabama football program, its fanbase and the state of Alabama.

Hurts will wear a two-sided helmet during Saturday’s Senior Bowl game; one side is a replica of his iconic No. 2 Bama helmet, and the other has the Oklahoma Sooners logo on it.

RELATED: Bama’s Jared Mayden glad to be reunited with ‘natural leader’ Jalen Hurts for Senior Bowl

Hurts recently said about Saban, “We always had a love for each other … our relationship will never die.”

Get tickets to Saturday’s Senior Bowl game here.

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

2 days ago

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele inks three-year extension

Derrick Brown and Kevin Steele pictured at Senior Bowl practice on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Mobile, Ala. (Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

Auburn University head football coach Gus Malzahn on Wednesday announced that defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has officially agreed to a new three-year contract that will take him through the 2022 season.

In a statement, Malzahn said, “Kevin has done a fantastic job with our defense the last four years making it one of the best in the country.”

“This will provide great stability and leadership for our defense in the future. I’m appreciative of Kevin’s hard work,” he added.

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Steele has been Auburn’s defensive coordinator for the last four years. During that tenure, the Tigers’ defense has ranked in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense. Additionally, Auburn is one of only five FBS programs to hold opponents under 20 points per game in each of those seasons.

Malzahn and Steele were both spotted at Senior Bowl Week practice in Mobile on Tuesday.

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

2 days ago

Malzahn says he’s turning offense, play calling over to Chad Morris

Prince Tega Wanogho and Gus Malzahn share a moment at Senior Bowl Week practice on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Mobile, Ala. (Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

MOBILE — Speaking at the first on-field practices at Ladd-Peebles Stadium during Senior Bowl Week on Tuesday, Auburn University head football coach Gus Malzahn confirmed that new offensive coordinator Chad Morris will indeed have full reign over the Bo Nix-led Tigers offense this coming season.

Morris was hired in December as Auburn’s offensive coordinator after being fired as the head coach of Arkansas in his second season with the Razorbacks.

However, when Malzahn made the hire, there was still doubt as to what extent he would truly let Morris spearhead the offense.

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As The Montgomery Advertiser’s Josh Vitale noted, Malzahn at the 2019 SEC Media Days in Hoover said he “made a mistake” when he turned over control of his offense to Rhett Lashlee and, later, Chip Lindsey.

In Mobile on Tuesday, though, Malzahn made things crystal clear. The highly successful head coach confirmed that Morris will be making the play calls for the Tigers in 2020.

“Chad Morris, in my opinion, is one of the best offensive minds in all of college football,” Malzahn said. “And we’re going to turn him loose. I’m very excited that he’s a part [of the coaching staff]. I trust him 110%. He’s going to take our offense, and he’s going to run with it. And I’m very excited about that. It’s something that me and him have been talking about for a long time.”

Malzahn noted that the two had been high school coaches at different schools in Texas together. Their relationship goes back to 2003.

“[W]e finally get a chance to coach with each other,” he added. “And I’m excited that he’s going to be in charge of our offense. Really looking forward to next year.”

When asked if Morris will have “full control,” Malzahn answered, “Yeah. He’s going to do it. You don’t hire a guy like Chad Morris unless you’re going to do that.”

Watch:

Outgoing Auburn players Marlon Davidson and Prince Tega Wanogho are in Mobile for the South Team during Saturday’s Senior Bowl. Wanogho will not play due to an injury.

Departing Auburn defensive star Derrick Brown was also on hand for Tuesday’s Senior Bowl Week practice, however he is not on a roster for the week and was merely spectating. Brown was pictured with Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

Information about the game and tickets can be viewed here.

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

2 days ago

Bama’s Terrell Lewis: I try ‘to honor God in any way, shape or form’

(S.Ross/YHN)

MOBILE — Speaking to Yellowhammer News during the Senior Bowl Week Media Day on Tuesday, outgoing University of Alabama Crimson Tide defender Terrell Lewis discussed how important his faith is to him and why he loves to give his testimony.

Lewis has faced a college career plagued by injuries, but he tormented opposing offenses when healthy.

Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy on Monday told reporters that Lewis is a “top 15” talent in the 2020 NFL Draft, however Nagy stressed that health concerns from NFL clubs will remain Lewis’ biggest question mark.

Yellowhammer News asked Lewis about his faith and how it has helped him overcome hurdles.

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“[I]t’s prepared me for everything I’ve gone through [in life], even in college, the adversity that I’ve gone through,” Lewis said. “Just knowing that it has to be a higher power working and living through me to be able to withstand everything that I’ve been through.”

“So, I definitely try to just basically give praise through my actions and stuff like that — and the way that I go about life and making decisions to honor God in any way, shape or form,” he continued.

Lewis then said that he tries to publicly profess his faith and testify “because some people kind of take it for granted and don’t realize what all God is doing for them.”

Yellowhammer News then asked Lewis if the University of Alabama football program under head coach Nick Saban is supportive of players who want to proclaim and openly live out their faith. Lewis spoke highly of the program in that regard.

“Yeah, they do a good job of having a great chaplain,” he responded. “They definitely give you the opportunity to be able to honor your higher power, honor God, stuff like that. So, they definitely keep it involved in the program. And you still have time to give your praise to the Lord.”

Read more of Yellowhammer’s coverage of Senior Bowl Week Media Day here.

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

3 days ago

Hurts: Time back in Alabama going ‘really well’ — ‘Love’ for Bama will ‘never go away’

(WVTM/YouTube)

MOBILE — The Senior Bowl Week Media Day was held on Tuesday at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center, and former University of Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts had droves of reporters on hand hoping to capture yet another classic Hurts press conference. The humble Hurts did not disappoint.

To kick off his remarks, Hurts commented once again on being back in the Yellowhammer State. He, of course, played at Oklahoma this past season as a graduate transfer from Tuscaloosa. Hurts finished as the runner-up in the 2019 Heisman Trophy voting.

“I think being here and being back in this state is [going] really well. I’m having this opportunity to play in this game and showcase my abilities and show what I’m made of. I’m thankful for it, I’m appreciative of it. And I’m ready to attack it,” Hurts said.

Asked on a follow-up question to compare the Alabama and Oklahoma fanbases, he responded, “I have a lot of respect for both universities. Both have rich tradition, history. I appreciate all the support.”

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The quarterback would later say both programs have “great coaches.”

RELATED: Hurts on Saban: ‘We always had a love for each other … our relationship will never die’

Of the universities, Hurts added, “The appreciation I have for them both, the love I have for them both, it’ll never go away. The way that they’ve accepted me, both schools, not many people can say that they’ve experienced that or they have that … so I’m thankful for it.”

Hurts said that during Senior Bowl Week and in the game on Saturday, he simply wants to “be the best version of” himself. He listed executing, learning and being a “student of the game” as priorities.

The former Tide star was also asked if he has had the opportunity to visit with the outgoing Bama players at the Senior Bowl, his former teammates Jared Mayden, Terrell Lewis, Raekwon Davis and Anfernee Jennings.

“Yes, sir,” Hurts answered. “It’s been well [sic]. Great seeing them. Good to be out there on the practice field with them again. I think they have the same approach I have in terms of maximizing this opportunity.”

RELATED: Bama’s Jared Mayden glad to be reunited with ‘natural leader’ Jalen Hurts for Senior Bowl

Hurts later quipped that he plays with “a boulder” on his shoulder rather than merely “a chip.”

Asked about the reception he expected back in the state of Alabama and what it has been like so far, Hurts commented, “It’s been pretty hectic so far — in a good way. Just being back here, a lot of love. I’m appreciative of it all.”

“I get on the elevator, one of the workers at the hotel we’re staying at — she let me have it in terms of just screaming,” he continued with a smile. “‘Jalen Hurts is really on my elevator,’ just stuff like that. That’s special to me, and I know it won’t be like that forever. I’m just soaking it all in.”

You can watch Hurts’ full interview below:

Media Day followed the Senior Bowl Week introductory press conference that was held Monday evening.

RELATED: Senior Bowl Week kicks off in Mobile as director praises ‘beloved’ Jalen Hurts — ‘He’s come so far’

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

3 days ago

Bama’s Jared Mayden glad to be reunited with ‘natural leader’ Jalen Hurts for Senior Bowl

(S.Ross/YHN)

MOBILE — Reunited and it feels so good. That was the sentiment expressed by one of Jalen Hurts’ former University of Alabama Crimson Tide teammates during the Senior Bowl Week Media Day on Tuesday.

Hurts, of course, played for the Oklahoma Sooners this past season as a graduate transfer from Alabama. He finished as the runner-up in the 2019 Heisman Trophy voting.

He will play for the South Team during Saturday’s Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, as will the Tide’s Jared Mayden, Terrell Lewis, Raekwon Davis and Anfernee Jennings.

As captured by Yellowhammer News, Mayden spoke with reporters during Media Day about how it feels being on the same field — and the same team — as Hurts once again.

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“It means a lot,” Mayden stressed. “Especially since he’s on my team [as opposed to playing against him on the North Team]. I’m glad he’s on my team because Jalen’s a leader, a natural leader. He doesn’t have to try too hard. It just seems like it comes natural to him. I know he’ll probably have some things to say that’ll get everybody ready to play. He did it at Bama; I expect no less from him [now]. So I’m excited to get the opportunity to play with him again.”

If you missed Yellowhammer’s coverage of the start of Senior Bowl Week, read more here.

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

3 days ago

Senior Bowl Week kicks off in Mobile as director praises ‘beloved’ Jalen Hurts — ‘He’s come so far’

(S.Ross/YHN)

MOBILE — The 2020 Senior Bowl Week is off to a strong start, with former University of Alabama star quarterback Jalen Hurts already taking center stage.

Hurts, of course, played for the Oklahoma Sooners this past season as a graduate transfer from Alabama. He finished as the runner-up in the 2019 Heisman Trophy voting.

He is now set to be taken in April’s NFL Draft, and the Senior Bowl is a chance to increase his draft stock, just as it is for the other 117 players filling out the South and North teams.

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Players arrived in Mobile on Sunday, descending on the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel, the Senior Bowl’s de facto headquarters for the week. Players were immediately able to schedule individual informal meetings with interested NFL clubs, leading up to an official orientation meeting for the players Sunday night.

Monday was much of the same until the introductory press conference at 5:30 p.m., except for physical evaluations occurring throughout the day to ensure players are healthy enough to participate in the week and game.

At that press conference, Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy talked about the importance of the game, emphasized how special it is having Hurts play in it and really got into the weeds in breaking down scouting reports on several players involved.

Nagy called Monday morning “Christmas morning” for the Senior Bowl staff with all of the players finally being in town.

He explained 93 players that participated in the 2019 Senior Bowl were taken in last year’s NFL Draft, which comprised 37% of the entire draft class. This included 10 players taken in the first round.

“Hence ‘The Draft Starts in Mobile,'” Nagy remarked. “We’re really pushing that, because I really feel like it does.”

Nagy took a bevy of questions, including one member of the media asking why Hurts was invited considering he “still has a lot to prove.”

“Because he deserved it, for one,” Nagy responded. “Jalen’s come a long, long way. He really has.”

He then admitted that two years ago, Nagy publicly projected that if Hurts ever made it to the Senior Bowl, it would be as a position player and not a quarterback.

“And he’s blown that out [of the water],” Nagy said. “He’s come so far. I think that those guys in Tuscaloosa did a great job, and you saw it kind of in the small sample size a year ago for Alabama when he came off the bench against Georgia. And really that move to Oklahoma this year really opened me up to a full season, and it made it pretty easy.”

“He’s so beloved — it was an easy one for us,” he continued. “If this game was anywhere else, I don’t know. But down here, he’s such a beloved guy, you know in his ‘home state,’ playing another game in Alabama, getting back here to our community. So we’re excited, I’m excited for game day. Because I think our fan base should come out, the Tide fan base a little bit maybe, should come out and support Jalen. It’s like our opportunity to appreciate him, show him our appreciation. He’s done so much for this state.”

Nagy, answering a follow-up question, advised that NFL scouts will probably most want to see out of Hurts this week “accuracy” and “consistency.”

“He had some really good games early in the year, and he’s seeing the field a lot better than he ever has. I think that comes with experience … his eyes are quicker. So probably just the accuracy thing this week,” he added.

Nagy was followed by Hurts at the microphone. Read about Hurts’ remarks here.

Hurts then gave up the microphone to South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who concluded the press conference.

The first formal interviews with NFL clubs began later Monday evening. The formal interviews schedule throughout the week is sorted by position, and quarterbacks, running backs, offensive lineman and specialists kicked things off Monday evening.

Additionally, physiological testing began Monday night, starting with tight ends, wide receivers and defensive linemen.

Finally, defensive backs and linebackers took part in informal club interviews.

Tuesday’s Senior Bowl Week schedule starts out with player weigh-ins at 7:00 a.m. After that, Media Day interviews occur around lunch time, followed by the first team practices of the week in the afternoon; practices are open to the public at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Tuesday night will again feature formal club interviews, psychological testing and informal club interviews.

You can view a list of public events for the week here.

The Senior Bowl game will be played on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CST in Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Tickets are available here.

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

4 days ago

Jalen Hurts loves being back in Alabama, will represent the Tide one final time

(S.Ross/YHN)

MOBILE — Jalen Hurts will play in his old No. 2 University of Alabama Crimson Tide helmet one last time in the Yellowhammer State.

Attending the opening press conference for the Senior Bowl on Monday evening, Hurts was surprised by Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy presenting him with a special two-sided helmet; one side is a replica of his iconic Bama helmet, and the other has the Oklahoma Sooners logo on it.

Hurts, of course, played at Oklahoma this past season as a graduate transfer from Tuscaloosa. He finished as the runner-up in the 2019 Heisman Trophy voting.

While the helmet has obvious sentimental value to the former Tide star quarterback, there is an added back story that makes it even better.

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Nagy explained that both the Senior Bowl and Hurts personally have worked extensively with Special Spectators, a non-profit organization that provides game tickets and special sports-related experiences to children facing serious illnesses and their families.

To honor Hurts, the organization decided to present him with the helmet for Saturday’s Senior Bowl game.

Hurts beamed as he learned of the special surprise, with Nagy unveiling it in front of assembled press before Hurts took to the microphone.

“The big question was, ‘What helmet is Jalen going to wear during the game: Oklahoma or Alabama?'” Nagy said as he picked up the helmet from under a table. “He might be able to wear both.”

Only two of the unique helmets were made. One will be worn by Hurts during the game. The other will be signed by him and auctioned off for Special Spectators.

Hurts, obviously taken aback by the honor, called it “a pleasant surprise.”

“I like to be creative… and I’m appreciative of all the support I have from great universities — Oklahoma and Alabama,” Hurts said. “Great coaches, great players I played with.”

He expressed his excitement to be back playing in the state of Alabama on the Senior Bowl stage, as he tries to elevate his NFL Draft prospects.

“[T]his is amazing. It’s cool, cool stuff being here, having the opportunity to play here, being back in Alabama, representing two great schools,” Hurts emphasized.

He built upon the power of being back in Alabama later when answering a question:

“Being back here, [I’m] enjoying the moment,” Hurts added.

Additionally, Hurts once again was asked about being famously benched for Tua Tagovailoa in the Tide’s National Championship matchup with Georgia in January 2018.

He responded by saying he would not change anything if given the chance.

“I think everything happens for a reason,” Hurts added. “It all happened as it’s supposed to.”

RELATED: Hurts on Saban: ‘We always had a love for each other … our relationship will never die’

The Senior Bowl game will be played on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CST in Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Tickets are available here.

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

4 days ago

Four NFL players who played for Alabama colleges heading to Super Bowl

(The Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers/Facebook, YHN)

Former University of Alabama Crimson Tide star Reggie Ragland and former University of West Alabama running back/return specialist Tyreek Hill, now a star wide receiver, of the Kansas City Chiefs and former Auburn University defensive end Dee Ford and former Samford defensive back Jaquiski Tartt of the San Francisco 49ers are heading to Super Bowl LIV.

The Chiefs beat the Tennessee Titans and another Bama legend, Derrick Henry, on Sunday afternoon to win the AFC Championship. The 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers later the same day to claim the NFC Championship.

The 2020 Super Bowl will be played between Kansas City and the San Francisco on Sunday, February 2, inside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

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Ragland, a linebacker, and Hill helped the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1970.

Wide receiver Gehrig Dieter, another former Alabama player, also wears a Kansas City jersey, albeit on the practice squad.

The ties between the state of Alabama and the upcoming Super Bowl run even deeper. Tartt is from Mobile while Ford is from Odenville and Ragland is from Huntsville.

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

1 week ago

Seven LSU football players from Alabama are heading to the White House

(LSU Football/Twitter, WVUA 23/YouTube)

Neither the University of Alabama nor Auburn University were represented in the latest College Football Playoffs, however the state of Alabama will be well represented when the national championship-winning LSU Tigers visit the White House on Friday.

According to a release from LSU Athletics, the Tigers arrived in Washington, D.C. on Thursday evening.

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Their itinerary in the nation’s capital began with a dinner with Louisiana’s congressional delegation at the Kennedy Center. Following the dinner, LSU was scheduled to take a bus tour of the city.

On Friday, the Tigers will reportedly start the day with a tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, to be followed by a tour of the White House and then a meeting with President Donald J. Trump.

The team will subsequently take a team photo on the steps of the United States Capitol before being welcomed to the floor of the Capitol.

LSU’s roster of national champions includes seven players who graduated high school in the state of Alabama.

These players are: freshman cornerback Cordale Flott, from Saraland, graduated Saraland High School; freshman outside linebacker Desmond Little, from Prichard, graduated Vigor High School; freshman quarterback Peter Parrish, from Phenix-City, graduated Central High School; junior defensive end Neil Farrell Jr., from Mobile, graduated Murphy High School; junior defensive end Justin Thomas, from Daphne, graduated Spanish Fort High School; junior offensive lineman Jakori Savage, from Bay Minette, graduated Baldwin County High School; and sophomore kicker Avery Atkins, from Auburn, graduated Auburn High School.

This comes after President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended Monday’s national championship game. LSU beat Clemson 42-25.

RELATED: ‘USA’: Trump’s national championship reception rivals Alabama-LSU game in Tuscaloosa

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

1 week ago

Alabama football announces 2030, 2031 home-and-home series with Georgia Tech

(Alabama Football/Twitter)

The University of Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Tech on Wednesday announced a home-and-home football series between the two programs for the 2030 and 2031 seasons.

Bama and Georgia Tech will next meet for the 53rd time, renewing a storied rivalry that was last played in 1984.

The first game in the series will take place in Atlanta on August 31, 2030, with the Tuscaloosa leg occurring on August 30, 2031.

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In a statement, University of Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne said, “We are pleased to secure another home-and-home for our future football schedules with the addition of Georgia Tech for the 2030 and 2031 seasons.”

“The Crimson Tide and Yellow Jackets were regulars on each other’s calendars from 1902 to 1984, and we look forward to renewing the series between our two programs,” he added.

The Crimson Tide owns a 28-21-3 edge in the history of games between the programs, however Georgia Tech won the last meeting 16-6 in 1984, with the Tide prevailing the prior season 20-7. The two teams first met in 1902 with Alabama emerging victorious 26-0. The programs were Southeastern Conference opponents from 1933-1964, when the Yellowjackets left the conference.

With the addition of Georgia Tech, Bama has added eight home-and-home series to future schedules recently, including: Texas (2022 & 2023), Wisconsin (2024 & 2025), Florida State (2025 & 2026), West Virginia (2026 & 2027), Notre Dame (2028 & 2029), Oklahoma (2032 & 2033) and Virginia Tech (2034 & 2035).

“We are excited to announce the addition of another outstanding home-and-home series,” Tide head coach Nick Saban commented. “Our administration has made it a point over the past several years to continue to improve our schedule and this is another great example. Georgia Tech and Alabama have a long history of great football games and we are looking forward to continuing that tradition.”

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

1 week ago

Previously undefeated Auburn men’s basketball team falls to rival Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa

(Alabama Men's Basketball/Twitter)

The previously undefeated Auburn Tigers men’s basketball team lost to the University of Alabama 83-64 in Tuscaloosa’s Coleman Coliseum Wednesday evening.

Bruce Pearl’s Auburn went into the game ranked No. 4 in the nation. The Tigers are now 15-1 overall and 3-1 in SEC play.

Nate Oats’ Bama team is now 9-7 overall and 2-2 in conference play.

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Kira Lewis, Jr. was the standout scorer for Alabama.

You can view the boxscore here.

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

1 week ago

Terry Saban celebrates birthday on Wednesday

(Nick's Kids Foundation/Facebook)

Terry Saban, the “better half” of University of Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, is celebrating her birthday on Wednesday.

“Miss Terry,” as she is fondly known, married Coach Saban on December 18, 1971. She is the former Terry Constable.

Both are from West Virginia.

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The couple met in seventh grade at a 4-H science camp. The two subsequently started seriously dating when Coach Saban was a student at Kent State and Miss Terry was teaching in West Virginia.

Terry and Nick Saban have two children: Nicholas and Kristen.

Some of Coach Saban’s most endearing moments while coaching in Tuscaloosa have centered around his relationship with – and love for – Miss Terry.

RELATED: Nick Saban on birthday plans: ‘It’s going to be whatever Miss Terry tells me to do’

One favorite from this past season is when the legendary coach admitted Miss Terry made him run on the treadmill after he received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the Tide’s opener against Duke.

She is also respected as a recruiting asset, even showing off some impressive dance moves at a recent event.

Then, of course, there is the Nick’s Kids Foundation, which is largely run by Miss Terry. The Sabans’ philanthropy is renowned for the work it does for youth in Alabama.

RELATED: Sabans’ ‘Nick’s Kids’ awards $560,000 to 130 non-profits

Find out more about the foundation here.

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

1 week ago

LSU beats Clemson, still doesn’t have as many national championships as Nick Saban

(Screenshots: ESPN, Aflac)

LSU beat Clemson 42-25 in Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship game in New Orleans.

The Bayou Bengals now have four national championships in school history. LSU also finished the 1958, 2003 and 2007 seasons as the nation’s No. 1 team.

LSU’s second national championship, of course, was won by their then-head coach Nick Saban.

Saban, now coaching another team in the SEC West — the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, has himself won a total of five national championships in his storied career.

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In addition to the title he won at LSU, Saban led Alabama to national championships in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017. That record ties him with another former Bama head coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant, for the most in the modern era of college football.

While this season was the first in the College Football Playoff era that Saban’s Tide were not involved, the famed coach still played a part in the national championship game.

Saban was featured on ESPN’s pregame show and was even seen during the game on the sideline.

Speaking ahead of the matchup, Saban lauded LSU’s explosive offense, led by NFL-bound quarterback Joe Burrow.

“I think it is… one of the most difficult to defend because of the skill players they have and the quarterback they have,” Saban advised. “Most of the time, you play a team that has one good player, maybe two… These guys really have it all.”

He compared the revamped LSU offense to the overhaul Saban allowed at Alabama in recent years with outgoing star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at the helm.

“I think it’s the whole key to their success, and you’ve got to give Ed [Orgeron] a lot of credit for doing it,” Saban remarked. “We did it at Alabama a few years ago. When you’re a defensive-minded coach and you’ve grown up running the ball, being conservative and playing defense to win games, the game changed. RPOs came, and everybody spread it out. The game changed, and if you don’t join that crowd, you’re never going to be able to make enough explosive plays in a game and score enough points. That’s what they did this year.”

‘I take my hat off to Dabo’

While LSU ultimately came up on top this year, Saban before the big game also had words of praise for Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.

“Well, I think the one thing people need to understand is success is not a continuum,” Saban said. “It’s momentary, and people have a difficult time really trying to maintain a standard of excellence once they have success. I take my hat off to Dabo for winning 29 games in a row — the championships they’ve won and being able to bring themselves back here again this year.”

He added, “Complacency creates a blatant disregard for doing the little things right. To be a champion and to repeat as a champion, you have to do the little things right. You have to do it everyday. I think that’s challenging, and that’s one thing I respect about both [Clemson and LSU]. They’ve had a lot of success.”

Swinney was raised in Pelham and attended the University of Alabama, where he joined the football program as a walk-on wide receiver in 1989. He subsequently earned a scholarship and lettered on three teams (1990–1992), including the Tide’s 1992 National Championship team. During his time as an undergraduate, Swinney was twice named an Academic All-SEC and SEC Scholar Athlete Honor Roll member.

While completing work on his MBA, Swinney became a graduate assistant at Alabama under Gene Stallings. Swinney would go on to coach at UA in some capacity for almost a decade.

In December 1995, Swinney received his MBA from Alabama and became a full-time assistant coach for the Tide in charge of wide receivers and tight ends. He retained these posts under Stallings’ successor, Mike DuBose, but was fired with all of DuBose’s staff in early 2001.

At the time, Swinney stayed in the state of Alabama and worked for AIG Baker Real Estate on development projects after his former strength coach at UA, Rich Wingo, became president of the company and offered him a job. Wingo is now a Republican state representative serving parts of Tuscaloosa and surrounding areas.

Swinney was drawn away from the Yellowhammer State in 2003 after Tommy Bowden, his former position coach at Alabama, became Clemson’s head coach. Swinney started with the Tigers as recruiting coordinator and also served as wide receivers coach. He became Clemson’s head coach in 2008, first on an interim basis after Bowden resigned six games into the season.

Swinney has in recent years been named at or near the top of most lists of potential eventual successors to Saban at Alabama.

RELATED: ‘USA’: Trump’s national championship reception rivals Alabama-LSU game in Tuscaloosa

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

2 weeks ago

‘USA’: Trump’s national championship reception rivals Alabama-LSU game in Tuscaloosa

(Roger Hoover, Washington Times/Twitter)

President Donald J. Trump famously received a raucous standing ovation when he attended the University of Alabama Crimson Tide’s game against LSU in Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium this past college football season.

The president on Monday evening again attended a marquee matchup featuring LSU, this time facing Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Just as Trump was greeted during the SEC game in Alabama, national championship game attendees proudly belted out patriotic cheers of “USA-USA-USA” when the president and First Lady Melania Trump took to the field before the Bayou Bengals and Tigers kicked off.

Watch:

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FLASHBACK:

If you need a refresher on Trump’s Bama-LSU attendance from November, you can read about Trump’s touchdown in the state here and the game itself here.

RELATED: Tuberville: Reception for Trump at Bryant-Denny ‘brings tears to your eyes’ — ‘I was just ecstatic’

RELATED: Rep. Palmer on Trump in Tuscaloosa: ‘I went to a football game and a Trump rally broke out’

Tide Coach Nick Saban called it “an honor” that the president of the United States attended the matchup.

RELATED: LSU QB on Trump attending Bama game: ‘Regardless of your political views, that’s pretty cool’

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

2 weeks ago

Three Alabama golf courses listed in top 30 of America’s best

(Kiva Dunes, Gunter's Landing Golf Club, Pursell Farms/Facebook, YHN)

Golf Advisor recently honored a trio of Alabama courses in its annual list of the best golf courses in the United States.

The publication, which is associated with the Golf Channel, explained, “[We] received more than 153,000 golf course ratings and reviews from our golfer community in 2019, and we’ve compiled the very best courses in the U.S. you can play based on your submissions for this year’s Golfers’ Choice Top 50 courses in the United States you can play.”

All courses selected “must offer regular public access.”

Kiva Dunes in Gulf Shores came in at No. 26, while Gunter’s Landing in Guntersville was ranked as the 14th-best.

However, the crown jewel of the Yellowhammer State was FarmLinks at Pursell Farms.

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This Sylacauga golf course was featured in the inaugural Yellowhammer Legacy Series.

FarmLinks has been a regular, highly-rated fixture in Golf Advisor’s annual rankings.

Here’s what Golf Advisor wrote about the Alabama courses:

26. Kiva Dunes
Gulf Shores, Ala.
Architect: Jerry Pate
Green fees: $89-111
What they’re saying: “Played this course on vacation to Orange Beach. I am more than pleased with this course. Beautiful layout, fast greens, and some water hazards. I loved it.”

14. Gunter’s Landing
Guntersville, Ala.
Architect: Jimmy Kennamer
Green fees: $45-55 | GOLFPASS members save
What they’re saying: “Course was primo condition, with smooth and fast greens – a LOT of character on this layout. If only I lived closer.”

4. FarmLinks at Pursell Farms
Sylacauga, Ala.
Architects: Michael Hurdzan & Dana Fry
Green fees: $81-110
What they’re saying: “This was my first time playing FarmLinks. I loved it. I would play this course every week if I could due to the great conditions, the awesome service and nice touches of the course as well as the spectacular setting and beautiful views.”

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

2 weeks ago

Two Bama players named to Freshman All-America Team

(Alabama Athletics/Contributed, YHN)

University of Alabama linebacker Shane Lee and offensive guard Evan Neal on Monday were named to the 2019 Football Writers Association of America (FWAA)-Shaun Alexander Freshman All-America Team.

The team is named after former Crimson Tide star running back Shaun Alexander.

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Today, Alexander travels the country speaking and teaching people about his Christian faith, marriage, fatherhood, football, winning, leading and love.

RELATED: Shaun Alexander on life, love and loss — ‘We will see her again, worshiping God together’

A 13-person panel of nationally-prominent college football experts represented each of the FBS conferences along with independents in the selecting the team, which annually honors the best redshirt and true freshmen college football players across America.

Panelists for the latest team and there corresponding affiliation were: Alexander; Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal (MW); Mark Blaudschun, TMGCollegeSports.com (ACC); Scott Dochterman, The Athletic (Big Ten); Michael Griffith, Freshman Focus; Mike Griffith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Chair/Independents); Tommy Hicks, Freelance (Sun Belt); Ron Higgins, Tiger Rag (SEC); Blair Kerkhoff, The Kansas City Star (Big 12); Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel (American Athletic); Nick Piotrowicz, Toledo Blade (MAC); Steve Richardson, FWAA; Grant Traylor, Huntington Herald-Dispatch (Conference USA); Ryan Young, Rivals.com (Pac-12).

The University of Alabama Athletics Department sent out a release highlighting key reasons why Lee and Neal were picked:

Neal

  • Big-bodied offensive lineman that started all 13 games for the Crimson Tide at left guard
  • Assisted on a line that gave up only 12 sacks in 406 pass attempts during the 2019 campaign
  • Selected as a Freshman All-American by 247Sports and tabbed to ESPN.com’s Freshman All-American team
  • Also earned Freshman All-America accolades from USA Today
  • Named to the Freshman All-SEC squad by the league coaches

Lee

  • Stepped into the starting middle linebacker spot and maintained that role all season
  • Led all SEC freshmen with 86 tackles and tied for third in the league with 6.5 tackles for loss (-33 yards)
  • Ranked second on the Tide defense in tackles and added 4.5 sacks (-29 yards) to tie for second across all SEC freshmen
  • Added an interception and three quarterback hurries to go with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in his first year with the Crimson Tide
  • Selected to ESPN.com’s Freshman All-American team
  • Named to the Freshman All-SEC team by the league coaches

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

2 weeks ago

Ed Orgeron: Tua ‘one of the best college football players ever,’ Tagovailoas ‘a great family’

(Sports Illustrated/Twitter)

Speaking to reporters ahead of Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney both had high praise for a certain quarterback not involved in the big game this year.

University of Alabama Crimson Tide star QB Tua Tagovailoa, exactly one week ahead of the national championship game, announced that he would declare for and enter April’s NFL Draft, thus foregoing his senior season in Tuscaloosa.

Tagovailoa has played in the past two championship matchups, beating Georgia in 2018 and then losing out to Clemson last year.

The respective Tigers coaches were asked Saturday about Tagovailoa, and the words of adulation flowed.

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“First of all, I think he’s one of the best college football players ever,” LSU’s Orgeron said. “He changed the way we do things in the SEC. It’s wonderful. He’s a pioneer. He has a great family.”

The coach then reflected on the first time Tagovailoa threw a pass in the Tide’s 29-0 victory over LSU in Baton Rouge in 2018.

“I remember two years ago we were playing them, and my first recollection of his first pass, it was the quickest release I’ve seen in 35 years of football,” Orgeron advised. “Now, you can practice it until you see something else. A tremendous competitor. Always handles himself with first class. I can’t say that I’m sorry that he’s not coming back. I’m not going to say that. But he meant a lot for football. I think he’s going to be a tremendous pro. I hope he stays healthy and has a great year.”

Swinney, the native Alabamian who also played and coached at the University of Alabama, said NFL teams would do well to land Tagovailoa.

“Tua’s special,” Swinney outlined. “I mean, he’s one of the best quarterbacks we’ve seen come through the college ranks. Awesome person. Just a phenomenal young man. … He’s been so good for the game, just what he represents. … From a talent standpoint, he’s awesome. If I was in the NFL, I’d be taking Tua. Because he’s a winner. He’s a very savvy, smart, instinctive player. He’s tough. He’s got a great heart. He’s going to make everybody else around him better. Those are qualities you want in a quarterback. He’s got a great future. He’ll heal up, get well and make a great player for somebody.”

The comments came the day following Tagovailoa traveling to New Orleans, the site of this year’s championship game, to receive the 2019 Bobby Bowden Award. This award, given out by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, annually recognizes the Division I player “who epitomizes the student-athlete and conducts himself as a faith model in the community, in the classroom and on the field.”

Swinney added that Tagovailoa “impacted a lot of people through his platform at the University of Alabama.”

RELATED: Galu Tagovailoa: Best part of Tua’s Bama career was ‘watching him give glory to God all the time’

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

2 weeks ago

Daniel Moore taking preorders for Tua Tagovailoa tribute painting

(Daniel Moore Gallery/Twitter, YHN)

Iconic Collegiate Classics painter Daniel Moore has released a preliminary pencil drawing of his special tribute artwork to departing University of Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Moore, well-known for capturing famed Bama moments, players and coaches throughout the ages, has also opened preordering for the limited edition painting to be entitled ”Mahalo Tua.”

Mahalo is an Hawaiian expression of gratitude.

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A description of the artwork that accompanies the preorder form states, Tua Tagovailoa’s record-setting career with the Tide alone makes the case that he is the greatest Alabama quarterback of all time. But his contributions are immeasurable. Coach Saban has stated that Tua made “as great of an impact as any player ever at Alabama” — and that this is not just because of his ability as a player, but because of the kind of leader he is and because of the Spirit that he has.”

The work will be a full-color oil painting “in celebration of the love and memories he has given to his Alabama family.”

The estimated release of the painting is late spring of this year, however Moore is offering 10% of preorders placed by February 28. Discounted prices range from $175 for a regular edition lithograph to $2325 for an artist edition canvas.

“Each limited edition print and canvas is hand-signed and numbered by the artist and will be accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.  Each print will come with a gold seal(s) to enhance framing, and each canvas will come with a brass title plate,” the preorder form states.

Installment payment plans are available.

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

2 weeks ago

‘P.R.I.D.E.’: Bama QB Bryce Young, early enrollees learning from strength coach Scott Cochran

(Scott Cochran/Twitter)

As seen in a video tweeted out Thursday by University of Alabama Athletics head strength coach Scott Cochran, early Crimson Tide football enrollees are already getting attuned to the Bama culture of excellence.

The group seen in the video, including incoming freshman quarterback Bryce Young, listened as Cochran explained to them his acronym, “P.R.I.D.E.”

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Watch:

Afterwards, Young broke down the huddle of players with a classic, “One, two, three, Bama.”

Young is expected to compete in the quarterback rotation this coming season that includes rising redshirt sophomore Mac Jones and rising redshirt freshmen Taulia Tagovailoa and Paul Tyson. Young has been billed as “Alabama’s next great quarterback.”

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