2 months ago

Crimson Tide reload for another championship run

Head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide announced the signing of 22 players to national letters of intent on Wednesday.

Rivals.com and 247 Sports both currently rank Alabama’s 2020 class second in the nation.

As part of a release from the athletic department, the team stated the signees came from eight states – Alabama (9), California (2) Florida (3), Georgia (3), Louisiana (1), Maryland (1), Ohio (1) and Texas (2).

The team also provided detailed biographies for each.

William Anderson, Jr. (DL, 6-4, 230, Hampton, Ga./Dutchtown)

A consensus four-star prospect by all major outlets … rated as a top-10 player in the state of Georgia by 247Sports, ESPN.com and on the 247Composite … the No. 5 weakside defensive end and No. 87 player nationally by 247 and the sixth-rated weakside defender to go with a No. 97 ranking on the Composite … the No. 55 recruit on the ESPN300 and sixth-ranked defensive end by the site … also tabbed the No. 23 player in the Southeast Region by ESPN … No. 159 on the Rivals250 by Rivals.com … that same sites lists him as the 11th-rated weakside defensive end and No. 17 player in Georgia … member of the PrepStar Top 150 Dream Team as the No. 116 recruit in the country … selected to play in the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas … earned first team all-state honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2019 … also selected to the AJC’s “Super 11” as a senior … totaled 22 sacks and 15 tackles for loss in his final season, playing a major role on a Dutchtown defense that allowed an average of just 7.7 points per game … selected as the Henry Herald’s 2018 All-County Defensive Player of the Year following his junior season … coached by Clifford Fedd at Dutchtown High School in Hampton, Ga. … signed with the Crimson Tide over Auburn, LSU and Tennessee among his nearly 40 offers.

Brian Branch (DB, 6-0, 185, Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek)

Elite safety prospect from the neighboring state of Georgia … rated as a four-star recruit by all major sites … member of the PrepStar Top 150 Dream Team as the 72nd-rated player overall and the No. 3 safety in the country … the No. 79 player on the Rivals250 … ranked 18th in his home state and the No. 21 safety prospect nationally by Rivals … No. 101 on the ESPN300 … ESPN also lists him as the third-rated player in the country at his position and the No. 44 overall recruit in the Southeast Region … fifth-ranked prep safety overall and No. 90 player in the country by 247Sports … the 10th-rated player from Georgia by both ESPN.com and 247 … ranked as the No. 7 safety prospect and No. 11 player in Georgia on the 247Composite … earned a spot in the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas … finished his career at Sandy Creek High School as the program’s career interceptions leader … selected as the Georgia 5A Ironman of the Year by the conference coaches as a senior, presented to the top-two way player … named to the Fayette News’ “Super 12” squad following his junior season … earned All-County Defensive Player of the Year from his conference coaches in 2018 … totaled 58 tackles, five interceptions and six pass breakups in that junior campaign … also contributed at wide receiver and on special teams for the Patriots … led by Brett Garvin at SCHS … picked Alabama over Ohio State, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Chris Braswell (DL, 6-3, 220, Baltimore, Md./St. Frances Academy)

Highly-regarded pass-rushing threat from Maryland … the nation’s top-rated weakside defensive end and No. 2 player from his home state by both 247Sports and on the 247Composite … a five-star prospect on the Composite along with Rivals.com and ESPN.com … also earned a five-star rating by PrepStar where he is a member of the magazine’s Top 150 Dream Team and listed as the No. 12 player nationally … No. 8 on the ESPN300 and the site’s No. 4 defensive end, No. 3 player in the East Region and second-rated player from Maryland … listed at No. 24 on the Rivals250 list … the second-rated outside linebacker and player from Maryland by Rivals.com … the No. 18 player on the Composite while 247 ranks him at No. 31 overall in the latest recruiting cycle … selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game … played his prep ball at St. Frances Academy where he was coached by Biff Poggi … chose Alabama over Clemson, Georgia and LSU.

Jackson Bratton (LB, 6-3, 233, Muscle Shoals, Al./Muscle Shoals)

In-state product who is rated as one of the top middle linebackers in the country … a four-star prep standout by all major recruiting sites … the No. 7 player from Alabama and No. 171 prospect nationally by 247Sports … 247 also rates him as the No. 10 inside linebacker in the class … ranked No. 8 in the state and No. 9 at his position on the 247Composite … third-rated inside linebacker nationally and No. 153 on the ESPN300 according to the site … ESPN.com also tabbed him as the 69th-ranked player in the Southeast Region and No. 9 player from Alabama … a PrepStar Top 350 All-American and the No. 4 inside linebacker prospect by the magazine … named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award during his senior season … totaled 155 tackles, including 12 for loss, to go with seven sacks as a junior … selected to the Class 6A All-State First Team by the Alabama Sports Writers following the 2018 season … also earned AL.com Super All-State recognition in that junior campaign … recorded 118 tackles and four sacks as a sophomore … named to the all-state second team following the 2017 season … dual-sport athlete who also competed in baseball for the Trojans … coached by Scott Basden as Muscle Shoals High School … committed to the Crimson Tide over Auburn, Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

Caden Clark (TE, 6-4, 258, Akron, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban)

Versatile tight end recruit from Northeast Ohio … four-star prospect by PrepStar and ESPN.com … also listed as the site’s No. 7 tight end, No. 23 player in the Midwest Region and No. 5 player in Ohio … the nation’s No. 16 tight end per Rivals.com … the site also lists him as the 11th-rated player from his home state … tabbed to the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association Division II All-Ohio Second Team as a senior … selected to the USA Today All-USA Ohio Football Team as a first-teamer following his junior season … caught 30 passes for 650 yards and 11 touchdowns in the 2018 campaign … attended Archbishop Hoban where he was coached by Tim Tyrrell … helped the Knights to a Division II state title in 2017 and 2018 … committed to the Tide over Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State among others.

Javion Cohen (OL, 6-4, 296, Phenix City, Ala./Central)

In-state offensive line prospect from Phenix City … four-star recruit by Rivals.com and 247Sports along with the 247Composite … a top-15 player in the state of Alabama, including a No. 9 ranking from Rivals … the state’s No. 13 player by 247 and No. 15 player by the Composite … selected to play in the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame World Bowl in Cancun, Mexico … earned a spot in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game following his senior season … named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 7A Second Team All-State squad as a junior … played at Central High School where he was coached by Jamey DuBose … chose the Crimson Tide over Auburn and South Carolina among others.

Kyle Edwards (RB, 6-0, 205, Destrehan, La./Destrehan)

Powerful runner from Louisiana … a four-star recruit and the No. 18 running back in the country according to Rivals.com … also a four-star selection by PrepStar … selected as a PrepStar Top 350 All-American … the No. 18 player from Louisiana by both 247Sports and on the 247Composite … the nation’s 26th-rated running back according to the Composite … ranked by 247Sports as the No. 32 tailback nationally … highly-rated runner by ESPN.com … rushed for 1,000-plus yards and over 16 touchdowns in 2019 … helped Destrehan to Class 5A state championship during his senior season … played a key role in the Wildcats’ run to the 2018 District 7-5A championship … accumulated 708 yards and eight touchdowns on 112 carries as a junior … coached by Stephen Robicheaux at DHS … signed with Alabama over LSU, Michigan and Penn State.

Traeshon Holden (WR, 6-3, 196, Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne)

Athletic wide receiver with size who earned four-star rankings across the board … the No. 26 overall prep prospect in California by Rivals.com and No. 244 on the Rivals250 … the Golden State’s 14th-rated player by 247Sports and No. 19 on the 247Composite … ranked by ESPN.com as the No. 37 player in the West Region and No. 21 player from California … the nation’s No. 20th-rated wide receiver per 247Sports … the site also lists him as the No. 128 prospect nationally … selected as a Top 350 All-American by PrepStar … transferred from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, Md., to Narbonne High School in Harbor City, Calif. for his final prep season … finished his senior campaign with 31 catches for 512 yards and seven touchdowns across seven games of action … selected to play in the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame World Bowl in Cancun, Mexico … coached by Manuel Douglas at Narbonne High School in Harbor City, Calif. … chose the Crimson Tide over Clemson, Florida, Oregon and USC among others.

Thaiu Jones-Bell (WR, 6-0, 190, Hallandale, Fla./Miami Carol City)

One of the top-20 players in Florida in the latest recruiting cycle … tabbed as a four-star wide receiver by all major recruiting outlets … rated as the No. 16 wideout and the No. 81 player nationally on the 247Composite … ranked as the 15th overall player in Florida and No. 15 receiver prospect in the country by 247Sports … No. 91 on the ESPN300 … also listed as the No. 11 receiver, No. 17 player in the Sunshine State and No. 41 in the Southeast Region by ESPN.com … No. 92 on the PrepStar Top 150 Dream Team and the nation’s No. 20 receiver … selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game … caught 38 passes for 745 yards and six touchdowns as a senior in 2019 … posted a breakout junior season in 2018, scoring 17 touchdowns on just 38 catches for the Chiefs … played for Joshua Taylor at Miami Carol City High School … chose Alabama over in-state Florida and Florida State.

Demouy Kennedy (LB, 6-3, 215, Theodore, Ala./Theodore)

Consensus four-star prospect and one of the top inside linebackers in the 2019 recruiting cycle … rated the No. 3 inside linebacker and the No. 52 overall player in the country by the 247Composite … the second-rated player in Alabama on the Composite along with 247Sports and Rivals.com … sixth-rated inside linebacker in the country according to Rivals.com … tabbed the No. 92 prospect on the ESPN300 … also listed as the No. 9 player at his position, No. 42 prospect in the Southeast Region and the No. 4 player in Alabama … a PrepStar Top 150 All-American and the No. 7 outside linebacker prospect by the magazine … named a semifinalist for the 2019 Butkus Award … capped off his senior season recording 69 tackles, including eight for a loss, to go with two pass breakups and a pick-six … also contributed three touchdown runs out of the Wildcat and added a blocked extra point … selected to participate in the All-American Bowl in Orlando, Fla. … earned a spot in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game following his senior season … also earned an invite to play in the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas … coached by Eric Collier at Theodore High School … chose Alabama over in-state Auburn along with Georgia and LSU among his many offers.

Jah-Marien Latham (DT, 6-3, 297, Reform, Ala./Pickens County)

An elite defensive tackle who travels down the road from Reform to Tuscaloosa … rated as a four-star recruit on the 247Composite and also by 247Sports and ESPN.com … the No. 9 defensive tackle in the country by ESPN … listed at No. 240 on the Rivals250 and ranked as the No. 31 player at his position by the site … the No. 22 defensive tackle on the PrepStar Top 150 Dream Team … the 10th-rated player from Alabama on both the Composite and by 247 … No. 18 defensive tackle by 247Sports … helped the Tornadoes to the Class 1A semifinals with 69 total tackles, including 27 tackles for loss and eight sacks … also served as the team’s punter … member of the Alabama squad for the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game … attended Pickens County High School where was coached by Michael Williams … signed with Alabama over Maryland, Ole Miss and Tennessee.

Jase McClellan (RB, 5-11, 200, Aledo, Texas/Aledo)

One of the nation’s top running back prospects and a big get out of the state of Texas late in the early signing day window … a consensus four-star prospect … ranked 43rd nationally in the 247Composite … the No. 8 running back and No. 6 player in the state of Texas in the composite … ESPN ranks him as the No. 34 player in the country, the No. 5 running back, No. 6 player in the Midlands Region and the fifth-best prospect in Texas … No. 60 in the Rivals100, ranking as the No. 7 running back and No. 6 player in the state … 74th in the Top247 and the site’s No. 8 running back and No. 6 player in Texas … selected to play in the Under Armour All-American Game … competed in Nike’s “The Opening” … led his team to the Texas 6A-Division II State Championship game in 2019, which will be played on Dec. 21 … has rushed for 1,268 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior … has totaled 6,468 yards on 842 career carries with 122 touchdowns while catching 28 passes for 429 yards and three more scores … rushed for 2,073 yards and 47 touchdowns as a junior in 2018 … Class 5A All-State selection as a junior in 2018 … scored 28 touchdowns while rushing for 1,599 yards on 203 carries during his sophomore season (2017) while missing six games due to injury … rushed for 1,528 yards and 20 scores as a true freshman, earning MaxPreps All-Freshman Team National Player of the Year … also named the state championship game MVP as a freshman … played for head coach Tim Buchanan at Aledo High School … chose Alabama over Oklahoma after being a Sooner pledge for almost two years.

Seth Mclaughlin (OL, 6-4, 278, Buford, Ga./Buford)

Versatile offensive line prospect from Georgia … a four-star at center and the No. 294 player on the ESPN300 per ESPN.com … the website also rates him as the No. 3 center, No. 136 player from the Southeast Region and the No. 29 recruit from his home state … selected as a PrepStar All-Southeast Region honoree and a four-star recruit by the magazine … ranked as the No. 9 center in the country on the 247Composite … the 37th-rated center by Rivals.com … the anchor of a Buford offense that scored 467 points and accumulated 3,400 rushing yards last season … graded out at 91 percent with only one sack and two quarterback pressures allowed as a senior … helped the Wolves a state championship in 2019 … played at Buford High School where he was coached by Bryant Appling … chose to sign with the Crimson Tide over Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson and Florida State.

Malachi Moore (DB, 6-0, 180, Trussville, Ala./Hewitt-Trussville)

A top-rated safety in the 2020 recruiting cycle … tabbed as a four-star recruit by all major sites … rated as the No. 8 safety by 247Sports and the No.3 prospect in Alabama … ranked fifth in his home state and the No. 13 cornerback prospect nationally by Rivals … No. 266 on the ESPN300 … ESPN also lists him as the No. 12 player in Alabama, 23rd-rated player in the country at his position and the No. 121 overall recruit in the Southeast Region … eighth-ranked prep safety overall and No. 98 player nationally by 247 … also listed as 247’s third-rated player from Alabama … ranked as the No. 10 safety prospect and No. 5 player in Alabama on the 247Composite … member of the PrepStar Top 150 Dream Team … participated in Nike’s “The Opening” Finals in Frisco, Texas … also selected to play in the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas … earned a spot in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game following his senior season … totaled 83 total tackles, including 46 solo stops with five tackles for loss as a senior … also recorded four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns in 2019 … led by Josh Floyd at Hewitt-Trussville High School … elected to sign with Alabama over Arkansas, Auburn and Georgia.

Jahquez Robinson (DB, 6-2, 185, Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood)

Skilled cornerback from Jacksonville … tabbed as a four-star prospect on the 247Composite and by Rivals.com … ranked as the No. 22 cornerback by 247Sports and the No. 53 player in the state of Florida … the No. 34 corner on the 247Composite and the No. 54 player in the Sunshine State … tabbed the No. 16 cornerback back by Rivals.com and the No. 34 player in Florida … ESPN’s No. 33 corner … played for head coach Adam Geis at Sandalwood High School … chose Alabama over Florida, LSU, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

Quandarrius Robinson (LB, 6-5, 220, Birmingham, Ala./Jackson-Olin)

A unanimous top-80 player nationally … projects as a natural pass-rusher due to his long frame and incredible athletic ability … a four-star prospect who is ranked as the No. 1 player in the state of Alabama by 247Sports and Rivals.com, while ESPN has him rated as the state’s No. 2 overall prospect … rated No. 36 nationally by 247Sports and as the outlet’s No. 5 outside linebacker … No. 48 on the 247Composite and the No. 6 outside linebacker … Rivals.com lists him at No. 69 nationally and as the No. 3 outside linebacker … rated 82nd nationally by ESPN and the No. 8 player at his position while ranking as the No. 48 player in the Southeast Region … a five-star prospect by PrepStar … named to the magazine’s Top 150 Dream Team and was rated as the No. 4 outside linebacker and the 36th-ranked player in the nation … selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas … earned an invite to the 2019 Nike “The Opening” Finals … an injury cut his 2019 season short … registered 40 tackles with 13 tackles for loss and eight sacks as a junior in 2018 … coached by Tim Vakakes at Jackson-Olin High School in Birmingham … chose Alabama over Auburn, Florida, LSU and Tennessee.

Drew Sanders (LB, 6-5, 230, Denton, Texas/Ryan)

One of the nation’s top all-around athletes and a prototypical outside linebacker or tight end … choose to focus on the defensive side of the football in high school before arriving in Tuscaloosa … a five-star recruit by 247Sports … rated as the No. 2 player in Texas by 247 and the No. 3 player in the state by ESPN … ranked 21st nationally on the 247Composite and the No. 2 outside linebacker … 247Sports ranks him as their No. 12 player nationwide and the country’s top outside linebacker … a four-star prospect by ESPN who is No. 30 in the ESPN 300 and the outlet’s No. 2 athlete … rated as the No. 4 player in the Midlands Region by ESPN … Rivals.com rates him as the No. 7 outside backer, the No. 34 player nationally and the No. 8 prep prospect in Texas … a five-star player by PrepStar … selected to the magazine’s Top 150 Dream Team and was rated as the No. 5 outside linebacker and the 37th-ranked player in the nation … selected to the Under Armour All-America Game … named the 2018 SportsDayHS Utility Player of the Year after completing 8-of-9 passes for four touchdowns, rushing for 280 yards and 13 touchdowns while making 119 tackles on defense, including 10 for loss and eight sacks, to go with three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns … threw five more touchdown passes in 2019 on just eight attempts while rushing for 326 yards and 10 scores … also caught 34 passes as a senior for 717 yards and 12 scores … finished with 48 rushing/receiving touchdowns in his career while throwing for 10 scores … finalist for the 2019 Landry Player of the Year, which goes to the top high school football player in North Texas … played for head coach Dave Henigan at Ryan High School in Denton, Texas … decommitted from Oklahoma to play for Alabama while also considering LSU, Georgia, Notre Dame, Oregon and Penn State.

Timothy Smith (DL, 6-4, 325, Sebastian, Fla./Sebastian River)

A talented defensive tackle in the 2020 cycle who can bolster the Tide’s rush defense immediately … a four-star prospect that ranks 136th nationally on the 247Composite and the No. 11 defensive tackle and the No. 21 player in Florida … ranked No. 70 in the Rivals100 and the No. 5 defensive tackle nationally … Rivals also ranks Smith as the No. 12 player in the state of Florida … 168th on the ESPN300 … also listed as ESPN’s No. 14 defensive tackle, the No. 74 player in the Southeast Region and the 25th-ranked player in the state … 247Sports rates him as 288th nationally, the No. 22 tackle and the No. 39 player in Florida … a four-star prospect who was rated as the No. 11 defensive tackle and No. 130 player in the country by PrepStar … selected to the magazine’s Top 150 Dream Team as well … recorded 62 tackles with 32 for loss and 10 sacks as a senior … added four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 2019 … coached by Tyrone Perry at Sebastian River High School … chose the Crimson Tide over Clemson, Florida, Georgia and Miami.

Kristian Story (ATH, 6-1, 213, Lanett, Ala./Lanett)

A truly special football player who led his high school team to the 2019 Alabama State Championship … earned Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year honors … a consensus four-star prospect who played quarterback in high school but could project all over the football field … set the record for career touchdowns in the history of the Alabama High School Athletics Association with 175 total scores … ranked 215th nationally on the 247Composite along with being tabbed as the site’s No. 6 athlete in the country and the No. 9 player from Alabama … No. 170 in the Rivals250 … also named the No. 3 athlete and the No. 6 player from the state … listed at No. 190 in the Top247, Story is the sixth-ranked athlete nationally and the No. 8 player in the state … rated No. 299 in the ESPN 300 and the outlet’s No. 25 athlete and No. 14 player in Alabama … a four-star prospect by PrepStar who was selected to their Top 350 All-American Team and was rated as the No. 11 safety and No. 180 in the nation … selected to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … finished his career with 13,219 yards of total offense while also setting the AHSAA record … earned all-state honors as a safety in 1A following the 2018 season … threw for 2,434 yards and 40 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2018 to go along with 1,207 rushing yards and 16 scores … added 33 tackles and nine interceptions on defense as a junior … threw for 3,286 yards and 35 scores while rushing for 765 yards and seven scores in 2018 … coached by his father Clifford Story at Lanett High School … chose Alabama over Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

Ronald Williams (DB, 6-2, 188, Ferriday, La./Hutchinson C. C./Ferriday)

One of the top junior college players in the nation and a highly coveted cornerback prospect … an NJCAA All-American as a sophomore at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community C0ollege … a four-star prospect who ranks No. 13 in the 247 Junior College rankings and the No. 5 corner … the No. 9 player nationally in the 247Sports Junior College rankings and the No. 3 cornerback … played in 10 games for Hutchinson in 2019, making 31 tackles with three interceptions and five pass breakups … recorded 18 tackles, three pass breakups and one interception as a freshman in 2018 … was a three-star prospect coming out of Ferriday (La.) High School two years ago … ranked No. 377 on the 247Composite in 2017 … played for head coach Stanley Smith at Ferriday and coach Rion Rhoades at Hutchinson C.C. … chose Alabama over Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.

Roydell Williams (RB, 5-10, 207, Hueytown, Ala./Hueytown)

One of the top players in the state of Alabama and one of the best running backs in the nation … a consensus four-star prospect … ranked 86th on the 247Composite … the No. 9 running back on the Composite and the No. 3 player in the state of Alabama … ESPN lists Williams at No. 70 on the ESPN300 … the top-ranked player in the state and the No. 10 running back prospect by the site … ESPN also ranks him as the No. 28 player in the Southeast Region … No. 92 in the Rivals100, the ninth-ranked running back and the No. 3 player in the state … 247Sports has him at No. 142 in the Top247, the No. 11 running back and the No. 5 player in Alabama … a PrepStar Top 350 All-American … also the No. 168 player in the nation, the No. 12 running back and the No. 7 player in the state by the magazine … selected to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game … a first team all-state selection in 2018 and a second-team pick as a sophomore in 2017 … accounted for three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons, finishing with 5,929 yards rushing in his career at Hueytown with 84 rushing touchdowns 92 total touchdowns … rushed for 1,289 yards and 24 scores as a senior with injuries limiting his production … gained 2,757 yards and registered 32 touchdowns as a junior in 2018 while catching 21 passes for 216 yards and three more scores … rushed for 1,509 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2017 … had 374 yards and four scores as a freshman in 2016 … played for head coach Greg Patterson at Hueytown High School where he helped the Golden Gophers to the 6A state semifinals … chose Alabama over Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Kentucky.

Bryce Young (QB, 6-0, 190, Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei)

The nation’s top-ranked dual-threat quarterback by all major outlets … an Elite 11 quarterback … a composite five-star prospect … No. 6 nationally and the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback on the 247Composite … the top-ranked dual-threat passer nationally by 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals.com … rated as the No. 2 player in California by 247Sports and the No. 3 prospect in the nation … Rivals rates him as the No. 3 player nationally while ESPN has him 24th in the publication’s ESPN300 list and the No. 6 player in the West Region … a five-star prospect by PrepStar … also selected to the magazine’s Top 150 Dream Team and was rated as the nation’s top dual-threat quarterback and the 35th-ranked player in the nation … invited the Nike’s “The Opening” … selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas … named to Sports Illustrated inaugural high school All-American team … Gatorade Football Player of the Year in California … Trinity League Most Valuable Player after leading Mater Dei to the state championship game in 2019 and finishing second nationally in the high school rankings … completed 72.6 percent of his passes for 4,528 yards and 58 touchdowns with just six interceptions as a senior … also rushed 73 times for 357 yards and 10 more scores to account for 68 total touchdowns in 13 games, an average of 5.23 per game … … helped Mater Dei to a state championship in 2018 as a junior after throwing for 3,846 yards and 39 scores … tossed 41 touchdowns as a sophomore with just three interceptions while throwing for 3,431 yards … added 1,445 yards and 14 scores as a freshman … finished his high school career with 13,250 passing yards and 152 passing touchdowns to go along with 1,084 rushing yards and 26 more scores … accounted for 178 total touchdowns in high school … coached by Bruce Rollinson at Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif. … chose the Crimson Tide over USC.

1 hour ago

Red Eagle now among top shotgun ranges in South

When the 200 shooters in the Alabama 4-H State Shotgun Championship arrive in April at the Red Eagle Skeet and Trap Club on the outskirts of Childersburg, Alabama, those participants will be able to compete at one of the top shotgun shooting facilities in the South.

Because of its long history of working with the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division’s Hunter Safety Program, Red Eagle was able to partner with the Division to upgrade its facilities to international-level standards through the use of matching federal funds from the Pittman-Robertson Act.

For those not familiar with the Pittman-Robertson Act, it levies an excise tax on firearms, ammunition and hunting equipment. Funds from Pittman-Robertson go to states based on land mass and the number of hunting licenses sold. The funds are used for a variety of wildlife conservation efforts, hunter education and the development, maintenance and improvement to shooting ranges.

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Red Eagle is a club open to the public with a mission of firearms safety and youth development. The facility is open to the public four days a week – Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from noon until 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Members have access to the facility seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Club Manager Tommy McGilberry said the club, formed in 1956, understands the contribution hunters make to the shooting sports, so they offer license holders a reduced fee structure due to this partnership with the Division.

“We let anyone who has an Alabama hunting license shoot here as a guest for only $1 more than members,” said McGilberry, who joined the club in 1974. “Members pay $5, and those with a hunting license pay $6. That’s quite an advantage for the people of Alabama to be able to come out here and shoot at a facility like this for a reasonable price.”

And for that low price, shooters can gain access to a world-class facility.

“Right now, we’re trying to come online with our bunker trap,” McGilberry said. “We’re trying to get the bunker dug to get that into operation. This will give somebody in Alabama the opportunity to start shooting in the 9th grade with the 4-H program and make it all the way to the Olympics with the equipment we have here. This will be the only place in Alabama with a bunker trap. The closest places now are Nashville, Fort Benning (Georgia) or Gainesville, Florida. Since we are centrally located, this will give Alabama a great asset for people to come here and shoot while they’re young.”

McGilberry, who served as a shooting coach in the U.S. Army and competed in international skeet from 1991 to 2003, said the shooting sports could be the perfect activity for those who don’t have the skills for other sports.

“All you have to have is hand-eye coordination and a place to practice,” he said. “If you’ve got the facility and you’ve got the talent, you can be an Olympian; you can be a champion.”

McGilberry was recruited by the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service to coordinate firearms safety instruction in the 4-H program. During McGilberry’s years, the program has expanded immensely from just firearms safety to intense competition. McGilberry worked with two interns during that process – Marisa Futral and Shannon Andress. Futral is now the Alabama WFF Hunter Education Coordinator and Andress is the coordinator for the Alabama 4-H Shooting Program.

Angus MacGreigor, an Alabama professor, coach of the Alabama Shotgun Shooting Team and competitor in international shooting, said the Pittman-Robertson funds have paid great dividends.

“As the 4-H program has grown, the club (Red Eagle) needed to grow as well,” MacGreigor said. “It needed to update its machinery so it could throw competition birds to train the shooters so they could go on to shoot the 4-H National Championships or for the Alabama or Auburn shooting teams or to shoot competitively around the world.”

The new machines are current, cutting-edge machines able to throw targets that meet national standards on six fields of skeet and three fields of trap.

“The return on the investment is that we have five 4-H teams that are training out of Red Eagle now,” MacGreigor said. “We are also the home of the Alabama 4-H State Shotgun Championship (April 17-19) with 200 shooters. The team that wins that championship will go on to the 4-H National Championships in Grand Island, Nebraska.”

Adam McNutt, who shoots for the St. Clair County team, competed in last year’s 4-H National Championships and finished in sixth place overall among 200 of the top high school shooters in the country.

McNutt, who signed to become a member of the Alabama Shotgun Shooting Team in January, joined Auburn Shotgun Shooting Team member Brian Lansdell for a round of practice last week.

Lansdell is the exception to the typical participant in the shooting sports. He has shown that a successful shooting career can start a little later in life.

“I’m a little different in that I come from a family that doesn’t like guns too much,” Lansdell said. “I didn’t even know about 4-H shooting. I shot a little bit, but I really didn’t start shooting until I got to Auburn. Even if you don’t grow up shooting, you can come to Auburn or Alabama, join a shooting team and get really good at it. I started out breaking from five to eight birds out of a round of 25. Now I’m shooting in the 90s (out of 100) in competition. As long as you get out there and practice, you can get good at anything you want to do. Being on the Auburn team is the best thing about going to Auburn for me. It’s a great group of guys and girls to hang out with and represent the school in something you love to do. It’s a ton of fun.”

McNutt, on the other hand, started shooting when he was in the fifth grade.

“We had a 4-H representative come to school and talk to us about 4-H,” McNutt said. “When you think about 4-H, you think about livestock shows and stuff like that. But they happened to mention a shotgun program. Coming up shooting birds and hunting, I thought that was interesting.”

A four-man team was formed, and the shooters excelled to the point of competing on the national level.

After signing with Alabama, McNutt went with the team to the Lower East Coast Regional in Savannah, Georgia, recently.

“It was really a fun experience, and it makes me feel proud to be a part of the team,” he said. “Alabama has a such a reputation around the country because of sports. To be on a team at Alabama is a proud feeling. It’s amazing.”

During his years of coaching the St. Clair team, Joel McNutt has been able to watch his son develop his shooting skills.

“4-H is where it all starts,” Joel said. “I’ve been coaching the team for eight years now. We have kids come through every year who start through a 4-H program or other youth programs, and they go from there. It’s amazing how far they can go once they get started. Like when our team started, we’d come out to shoot here for our very first competition. The kids shot and had a good time. They heard about the national competition and were talking about how great that would be to shoot in it. You think it would be great, but you don’t realize at the time it’s possible. Having a facility like this, with the equipment they have here to allow us to practice, it made it possible. The four kids we started with eight years ago, they all made it to the national competition. It was surreal to see them be able to do that, to see them start so young, go through the process and then achieve their goals of making it to the nationals.”

MacGreigor suggested that an Iron Bowl for shotgun shooting might be in the future because of the natural competitiveness between the two schools.

“If you look at the statistics, the shooting teams from Alabama and Auburn are not that far apart,” MacGreigor said. “Although there is not an official shooting Iron Bowl, there is a little Iron Bowl at every competition we go to.”

MacGreigor also expects the number of shooting teams to grow as the word gets out.

“Because of funding to purchase new machinery and infrastructure and because of the success of some of our shooters on the Auburn and Alabama teams, we’re getting parents who are driving their kids up at nighttime to participate and start a team for their areas,” he said. “We’re starting to see an explosion of towns wanting to build teams, and this is the facility they would use. But it wouldn’t be possible without the Pittman-Robertson dollars and the volunteers at Red Eagle. This is really a metaphor for life – the lessons they are learning in shooting apply to academia. They apply to a job. It is developing and building a process to achieve the desired outcome.”

David Rainer is an award-winning writer who has covered Alabama’s great outdoors for 25 years. The former outdoors editor at the Mobile Press-Register, he writes for Outdoor Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

14 hours ago

Livingston, Whatley elected to lead Alabama Space Authority

The Alabama Space Authority this week held a meeting, respectively electing State Senators Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro) and Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) as chair and vice-chair of the body.

Both senators, who were appointed by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) to the authority, plan to work diligently towards making Alabama a leader in the space industry, according to a joint release.

The Alabama Space Authority was created in 2017 to promote research and development of new space exploration and spaceport technology; to sponsor conference and business roundtables within the aerospace, aviation and related industries; and to promote activities and industries related to exploration.

The authority includes representatives of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), the Alabama Department of Commerce, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the Alabama Department of Transportation, the governor, the State legislature and other stakeholders and experts.

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Livingston, who recently played a leading role in the creation of the legislature’s Aerospace and Defense Caucus and serves as its chair, stated that the Alabama Space Authority will be looking into how the Yellowhammer State can further improve this industry.

“We are looking into the possibility of the Dream Chaser being able to land in Huntsville,” Livingston said. “This is going to be a great opportunity to look into how the legislature can aide in supporting the aerospace and defense industry in Alabama.”

Whatley added that he was honored to be selected as vice-chair and that space is a growing industry in Alabama.

“I’m proud to be a member … because this is a big deal for our entire state, from Huntsville to Auburn’s aerospace programs and to the robust aircraft manufacturing on the coast. Aerospace is a $12 billion industry and a key component to Alabama’s economy,” Whatley commented.

Livingston concluded by advising he expects to receive an update from the U.S. Space Command and is looking forward to bringing more space industry projects to Alabama.

RELATED: Ainsworth in Huntsville: Alabama is ‘the aerospace capital of the world’

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

16 hours ago

Lewis touts McCutcheon; Brooks touts Trump, his record with space and defense

Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) this week endorsed Chris Lewis in the GOP primary race in the Fifth Congressional District.

The surprise endorsement by McCutcheon caught many in the state off-guard because this race has flown under the radar and polling shows this race, like all of U.S. Representative Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) previous primaries, handily in the bag.

But McCutcheon’s endorsement rightly got the attention of multiple media outlets and observers of Alabama politics with many wondering what this was really all about.

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So when Brooks saw the endorsement and a hostage-style video promoting it by McCutcheon, Brooks responded by highlighting the most coveted endorsement a Republican candidate for any office could get: President Donald Trump.

Brooks told Yellowhammer News:

I have the strong endorsement of President Trump, a man I worked hard with to CUT TAXES on American families and secure America’s borders! In contrast, Chris Lewis has the endorsement of legislator Mac McCutcheon, whose greatest expertise has been RAISING TAXES on struggling Alabama families!

While speaking to WVNN on Friday, Brooks noted that the endorsement on the bounds of support from the space and defense industry is laughable.

“If Mac McCutcheon is saying that Chris Lewis has more support in Research Park, that is categorically false. We have received more support from the state and defense community, vastly, vastly, vastly, vastly more support from the state and defense community than Chris Lewis has,” he told “The Dale Jackson Show.”

Brooks also touted his seniority, and how that plays into serving his district in Washington, D.C.

“The people who engage in space and defense know that my growing seniority on science, space, and technology and on House Armed Services, coupled with more than a hundred occasions in which I’ve been able to get favorable language into legislation that they’ve wanted me to get for the benefit of our country and what we do in the Tennessee Valley,” he added. “They’re my primary support base in Congress: space and defense.”​

My takeaway:

This is all pretty interesting, but the idea that a McCutcheon endorsement on these grounds can overcome the booming North Alabama economy that Brooks has been a part of since being part of the Tea Party-wave in 2010 is false.

The Trump endorsement might make better television and radio spots, and it will definitely help Brooks, but the real issue is that Lewis and McCutcheon can’t point to how Brooks hasn’t served his district well — because he has.

Barring some massive bombshell to follow up this endorsement, a battle of endorsements between Trump and McCutcheon seems like a fight that was over before it started, much like the Brooks/Lewis race.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

17 hours ago

Human clinical study begins at UAB for groundbreaking brain tumor treatment

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) continues to evolve as a worldwide leader in biomedicine, research and innovation.

Incysus Therapeutics, Inc., a Birmingham-based biopharmaceutical company, has now announced the initiation of a Phase 1 clinical study of a novel Drug Resistant Immunotherapy (DRI) technology for the treatment of patients with newly-diagnosed glioblastoma.

This trial is being conducted at UAB and is now active and open for enrollment.

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM or glioblastoma) is a devastating and fast-growing brain tumor that typically results in death within the first 15 months after diagnosis. GBM is inherently resistant to conventional therapy and accounts for approximately 52% of all primary brain tumors.

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A release from the company outlined Incysus’ innovative DRI approach, which seeks to combine conventional chemotherapies with a γδ T cell-based immunotherapy to modify the tumor microenvironment and drive the immune system. By using alkylating agents such as temozolomide, chemotherapy can activate immunity through the upregulation of the DNA damage response (DDR) pathway. A significant challenge is that such chemotherapies also kill the white blood cells needed to drive an immune response. Incysus’ technology “chemo-protects” immune cells to allow them to remain functional while DDR activation creates an immune signal that allows directed killing activity against cancer cells.

Incysus is the first company to use this type of therapy in patients, and the research marks a landmark moment for Incysus, the overall biotech industry in Birmingham and anti-cancer research across the globe.

Dr. L. Burt Nabors, MD, the co-head of neuro-oncology at UAB and the study’s principal investigator, stated, “The initiation of this clinical trial represents a significant milestone towards developing effective immune-based therapies for the treatment of GBM. We are pleased to work with … the team at Incysus to bring this innovative therapy to patients for the first time.”

Further information on the clinical trial is available here.

Incysus is a UAB spinoff company. Its success in the Magic City — and this kind of potentially revolutionary research spearheaded by UAB — is a prime example of why many legislative and industry leaders in the state, especially in the Birmingham area, are calling on Governor Kay Ivey to fund a world-class genomics facility at the university. They argue that the project could make Birmingham the “Silicon Valley of Biomedicine.”

RELATED: Planned UAB genomics project could make Birmingham the ‘Silicon Valley of Biomedicine’

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

17 hours ago

Amendment One puts kids first, politicians last

When Alabamians take the to the polls on Super Tuesday, they will either be concerned with the Democratic nominee for President of the United States or the Republican nominee for the United States Senate. More important to the future of Alabama is a constitutional amendment that would end our current model of a popularly elected state school board in favor of one appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate.

Supporters of Amendment 1 argue that this would be a major step in improving Alabama’s permanent residence at the bottom of the education barrel. As it is currently designed and managed, the state board of education is doing very little to improve the quality of education in the state. Board members are trying, but clearly nothing is working very well. Supporters of the amendment argue a shake up is the best hope for improving education in Alabama. In some respects the argument does not go far enough. That is because the current process creates negative incentives for board members; because they hold their office at the behest of voters, there is every incentive for them to avoid upsetting their constituents.

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That is the chief problem with the board as it is currently construed. Board members are not uncaring or ignorant or irresponsible. Instead, they respond to the whims and wishes of voters or other powerful political interests. No matter what politicians say, they are inevitably swayed by the whispers of voters and donors. Not because they are corrupt, but because they are human. All people are prone to this, which is why the framers of the Constitution created a system that checked and balanced one human tendency against another. It’s true that voters can provide a check on board members, but that argument does not account for an additional problem.

The second problem with the current system is that voters have limits to their knowledge about education in our state. Committed parents and citizens can often learn a lot about their own schools and school districts, but rarely does even the most passionate citizen have the time and mental energy to devote beyond that. Should Amendment 1 pass, the state Senate would have a direct responsibility to ensure that the governor appoints quality people to the board, but also to make certain that the Board is making progress in evaluating and improving the quality of education in our state.

Critics argue that an appointed board would lend itself to cronyism. That’s possible, but the executive and legislative branch often have competing interests, even when they share the same partisan and ideological commitments. Those competing concerns would help smooth over concerns about patronage and cronyism. Still, the amendment will not be an easy transition given the natural tendency of politicians towards vanity and self-promotion. The current system is of a worse nature, however, as it leaves the governor and senate almost powerless to impact education policy, which is instead run by another group of politicians with little incentive to do anything that might upset the voters who put them there.

But shouldn’t voters have a say in these matters? No, at least not directly. This is because education policy is a difficult matter, and it is hard for voters to adjudicate the success or failures of these policies beyond the very narrow window of their own experience. It’s fine that we elect local school boards; they are indeed local, and voters often see those board members at church or line at Piggly Wiggly. Only the most politically involved voters are likely to have any encounter with their board members, who are busy juggling very difficult conflicts within their own districts. Each district contains such a variety of constituents that it is almost impossible for board members to adequately address those concerns, instead pandering to the one or two constituencies most likely to keep the member in office.

There is a final reason to support Amendment 1. A central feature of modern politics is the tendency of politicians to see themselves as mouthpieces instead of statesmen. Some of that is natural but other parts of it are due to the incentive structure within our own government. This is as true in Montgomery as it is in Washington D.C., and Alabamians should care far more about the goings-on in our state capital than in our nation’s capital. Since our legislature is stripped of any real influence in state education policy and therefore little accountability to voters, it leaves them free to demagogue and pander on the issue without really having to stand before the voters and take account for their time in office. The same is true for the governor. By making the governor and the state senate responsible for staffing the state school board as part of an ongoing process of appointment and confirmation, these branches of our government would finally have real skin in the game. The success of our schools would be their success, and the failure of our schools would be theirs, also.

Matthew Stokes, a widely published opinion writer and instructor in the core texts program at Samford University, is a Resident Fellow of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit educational organization based in Birmingham; learn more at alabamapolicy.org.