Author Archives: Mark Edwards

As I leave, I want to say thank you …

Everybody, we have some news: I’m moving to another newspaper and no longer will be editing The Daily Bama Blog.

Don’t worry, because the Tennessee Valley Printing Company is working toward bringing a new Alabama beat writer aboard, and that person will manage the blog. Also, correspondent Brett Hudson will continue to contribute regular reports, too, on various Alabama sports. I’m certain you’ll get the same quality and consistency in updates you’ve grown accustomed to seeing when you visit this corner of the Internet.

I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been editing this blog. It’s been the best part of covering the Alabama beat, because blogs allow us to reach readers in so many different ways. If I saw a cool video or a bit of odd news from another source, I immediately thought about how the blog readers might enjoy knowing about it, too, and posted it here.

I’ve worked at The Decatur Daily for 22 years, including the past nine as sports editor. I covered Alabama as either a beat writer or columnist for 18 of those years, including four national championship teams (1992, 2009, 2011 and 2012). It’s hard to leave, but I’ve found a new challenge: I’ll serve as sports editor of The Anniston Star.

Thank you for visiting and supporting the blog. It meant more than you know.

Sincerely,
Mark Edwards

O.J. Howard enjoys his role as a recruiter

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Incoming freshman O.J. Howard joked Wednesday he deserves some credit for recruiting Muscle Shoals defensive lineman Dee Liner to Alabama.

“I went to a lot of camps this summer so every camp I went to, I tried to get guys to come,” Howard said. “Dee Liner is one of the biggest guys I think I had an impact on. Dee’s my boy and he ended up coming here so I’m happy.”

Back then, Liner was an Auburn commitment.

“He was trying to get me to come to Auburn for a long time and I was like, ‘Man, lets go to Bama. They’re winning championships. Lets just go up there and have fun together.’ He eventually ended up coming,” Howard said. “He saw the bigger picture, I guess, and he’s coming this way.”

Howard said he knew he had Howard headed to Tuscaloosa on Jan. 4 when the two played in the Under Armour All-American Game. Liner visited Alabama the following weekend, decommitted from Auburn and announced Wednesday he had picked the Crimson Tide.

Howard said it wasn’t a big secret by Wednesday, when Liner announced his decision on ESPNU.

“He told everybody,” Howard laughed. “He didn’t really care.”

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Tide line recruit works hard to lose weight

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Incoming offensive lineman Brandon Hill doesn’t mind saying he’s overweight. After all, it gives him a chance to talk about how much more overweight he used to be.

A signee out of Hargrave Military Academy, Hill enrolled in January with 406 pounds on his 6-foot-7 frame. He said he weighs 390 now and aims to be at 350 by the beginning of preseason practice in August.

Hill said it has helped to work with Tide strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran. In addition, he has received guidance from nutitionists at Alabama.

For example, he said he used to think sports drinks were good for him but was told they have sugar that adds weight.

“They said wait a minute, if you take water you’ll be good,” he said.

Tide QB signee says he loves his move to the South

Cooper Bateman comes to Alabama from Murray, Utah.

Cooper Bateman comes to Alabama from Murray, Utah.

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Alabama quarterback signee Cooper Bateman grew up in Utah but came South to play for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama’s interest in him stems from offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who joined Nick Saban‘s staff after last season. He coached at Washington and knew about Bateman then.

“I absolutely love it,” Bateman said Wednesday at Alabama’s National Signing Day news conference. “I never even imagined Alabama would come up in this process at all. And when I pictured it before I picture it kind of just flat, old, kind of like Oklahoma, nothing around. We came here and it was green everywhere, rolling hills.”

Bateman said he has taken to the state.

“It says a lot about Alabama that a guy from Utah is willing to come this far because he fell in love with it that much,” he said.

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Jacobs helps lift Alabama over LSU

Alabama forward Nick Jacobs (15) tries to shoot between LSU guard Malik Morgan (24) and forward Johnny O'Bryant III (2). (AP photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter of The Tuscaloosa News)

Alabama forward Nick Jacobs (15) tries to shoot between LSU guard Malik Morgan (24) and forward Johnny O’Bryant III (2). (AP photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter of The Tuscaloosa News)

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Still in search of a consistent offense, Alabama rebounded from its worst scoring performance of the year by beating LSU at home 60-57 on Saturday night.

After falling Wednesday at Auburn while scoring a season-low 37 points, the Crimson Tide returned to Coleman Coliseum and managed the most points it had scored in nearly four weeks.

“You can’t compare one situation to another,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said when asked about the difference between the loss to Auburn and beating LSU. “The focus was on getting the win tonight.”

One difference for the Crimson Tide was Nick Jacobs, a 6-foot-8 sophomore. He came off the bench and gave a lift offensively for Alabama (15-8, 7-3 SEC), which is tied with Ole Miss for third place in the league.

Jacobs had 15 points in 19 minutes, made 7 of 8 foul shots and blocked three shots. He also produced six points and a big rebound in the final five minutes.

“Nick Jacobs was huge tonight,” Alabama guard Trevor Releford said. “He had a huge rebound and made his free throws at the line. When Nick Jacobs plays like that, we’re tough to beat.”

Jacobs played a role in a critical series with about 1:22 to play.
LSU (13-8, 4-6) had a chance late, as it sliced an Alabama lead down to 54-53. The Tide’s Trevor Lacey missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity, but Jacobs rebounded, and Alabama got the ball back to Lacey, who drew another foul. This time, Lacey made both free throws, and Alabama never led by fewer than three after that.

Later, after an LSU miss, Jacobs drew a foul and made both foul shots.

“Nick was huge, especially in the second half. … When Nick plays like that, we’re a much better team,” Grant said.

Saturday marked 43 years and two days since LSU’s Pete Maravich set the coliseum record by scoring 69 points. Neither team threatened that mark in this one, but Alabama mustered enough to win for the eighth time in 11 games.

“After the game at Auburn, we knew they would come out with a great deal of energy,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said.

LSU had the ball in the closing seconds and trailed 60-57, but an Andre Stringer 3-pointer with four seconds left missed. After an Alabama turnover, LSU’s Anthony Hickey missed a 50-footer.

Johnny O’Bryant III had 22 points and 11 rebounds for LSU, but in the final five minutes, he managed only a dunk and two free throws.

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Nick Saban’s Crimson Caravan schedule

Alabama head coach Nick Saban before a BCS news conference. (AP photo by John Bazemore)

Nick Saban before a BCS news conference. (AP photo by John Bazemore)

Here are the dates and places in which Nick Saban will speak on the Crimson Caravan tour:

April 25, The Terrace Club at Club Quarters Midtown, New York, N.Y.
April 30, The Wynfrey Hotel, Birmingham
May 2, Mobile Convention Center, Mobile
May 7, Von Braun Center, Huntsville
May 9, Wills Valley Recreation Center, Fort Payne
May 14, Harry Hinson Kiwanis Community Center, Andalusia
May 16, Turner Field 755 Club, Atlanta, Ga.
May 22, Orange Beach Event Center at The Wharf, Orange Beach

Each event will begin at 6 p.m. local time. All tickets are $50, except the New York event, which is $100 a ticket. You can by tickets from Alabama through rolltide.com or by calling the ticket office at 205-348-2262.

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Alabama vs. LSU, basketball game information

Alabama forward Devonta Pollard (24) dribbles past Mississippi State forward Roquez Johnson (25) earlier this season. (AP photo by Rogelio V. Solis)

Alabama forward Devonta Pollard (24) dribbles past Mississippi State forward Roquez Johnson (25) earlier this season. (AP photo by Rogelio V. Solis)

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa

Records: Alabama 14-8, 6-3 SEC; LSU 13-7, 4-5.

TV: ESPN2.

Alabama lineup: G Trevor Lacey, 6-3, So., 12.1 ppg., 3.9 rpg., 3.4 assists; G Trevor Releford, 6-0, Jr., 15.1 ppg., 2.2 rpg.; F Levi Randolph, 6-5, So., 7.7 ppg., 4.0 rpg.; F Rodney Cooper, 6-6, So., 10.7 ppg., 4.3 rpg.; C Moussa Gueye, 7-0, Jr., 1.5 ppg., 4.4 rpg., 1.5 blocks.

LSU lineup: G Anthony Hickey, 5-11, So., 12.5 ppg., 3.7 assists; G Andre Stringer, 5-10, Jr., 10.9 ppg., 1.9 assists; G Malik Morgan, 6-4, Fr., 5.6 ppg., 3.3 rpg.; F Johnny O’Bryant III, 6-9, So., 11.8 ppg., 8.3 rpg.; F Shavon Coleman, 6-5, Jr., 11.4 ppg., 7.2 rpg.

Noteworthy: Alabama is coming off its worst offense performance of the season in Wednesday’s 49-37 loss at Auburn, getting outscored 36-14 in the second half. … According to KenPom.com, Alabama’s RPI ranking is No. 80, while LSU is No. 123. … LSU has won three straight over Missouri, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt by a combined five points. … Alabama has won seven of its past 10. … Mark Jones and Jimmy Dykes will have the call for tonight’s game for ESPN2. … First-year LSU head coach Johnny Jones spent the 2000-01 season as an Alabama assistant coach under Mark Gottfried before serving at North Texas’ head coach during 2001-12 and winning 190 games. … Alabama is getting 60 percent of its scoring and 57 percent of its assists from its sophomore class.

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Two important Alabama football dates

Alabama tight end Michael Williams (89) still will have a chance to work out for NFL scouts. (Copyright photo by Gary Cosby Jr. of The Decatur Daily)

Alabama tight end Michael Williams (89) still will have a chance to work out for NFL scouts. (Copyright photo by Gary Cosby Jr. of The Decatur Daily)

Here are a couple of days to mark on the calendar:

March 13: Alabama’s Pro Day
April 20: Alabama’s A-Day

As many of you know, Crimson Tide tight end Michael Williams wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, which will be Feb. 20-26 in Indianapolis, but he will have a chance to perform for scouts at Alabama’s Pro Day. In fact, one or two teams might send someone specifically to see him work out.

If you’re curious when every school’s Pro Day is, click here.

Also, Alabama’s spring practice begins March 21. For a list of when every SEC school begins spring workouts, click here.

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Biggest combine snub? How about Tide’s Williams?

Alabama tight end Michael Williams ranked fourth on the team this year with 24 catches, while his four scoring receptions were tied for second. (Copyright photo by Gary Cosby Jr. of The Decatur Daily)

Alabama tight end Michael Williams ranked fourth on the team this year with 24 catches, while his four scoring receptions were tied for second. (Copyright photo by Gary Cosby Jr. of The Decatur Daily)

Top NFL scouting combine snub? NFLDraftScout.com’s Dane Brugler says it’s Alabama tight end Michael Williams, who wasn’t one of the 330 players invited to Indianapolis for the event later this month.

“Although he plays stiff and will struggle to separate at the next level, Williams is a powerful and physical blocker with the size and strength to stick in the NFL as a No. 2 tight end,” Brugler wrote.

Click here to read the complete story.

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No. 5 Alabama gymnastics team falls at Florida

Fifth-ranked Alabama fell on the road for the second straight week, losing at No. 1 Florida 198.100-196.850 in front of a crowd of 8,074 on Friday.

It was the Crimson Tide’s second highest score of the season and the Gators’ second highest score in school history. Alabama lost the previous week at Georgia.

For Alabama, Marissa Gutierrez won the vault with a 9.950, while Kim Jacob was third on the balance beam (9.875) and fifth on floor exercise (9.900). Sarah DeMeo was fifth on uneven bars (9.875).

The Crimson Tide returns home Feb. 15 to take on Auburn at 7:30 p.m.

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Saban’s comments on Reuben Foster

Reuben Foster at his signing day celebration Wednesday. (AP photo by Butch Dill)

Reuben Foster at his signing day celebration Wednesday. (AP photo by Butch Dill)

Some of you have requested Nick Saban‘s comments Wednesday about linebacker signee Reuben Foster. We’ve got a transcript for you, detailing Saban’s defense of his new player, who bounced between committing to Alabama, then Auburn, then Alabama again. And we’re throwing in the signing day photo of Foster dressed like Saban.

“We really think Reuben’s a good person and Reuben has a good heart and is certainly a good football player. I think that he really felt bad in some ways maybe by the way he handled his recruiting. I also think that all the media attention sometimes can affect these guys in maybe not the most positive way.

“At the same time, I think Reuben would like to please everyone. I think that he learned in this process that that’s very, very difficult and probably impossible to do. I think that’s probably what he feels bad about. Because he does like to please you is one of the reasons why he is a very good competitor. Some of these things that turn out to be or appear to be not good qualities, actually can be very good qualities if channeled in the right direction. I think Reuben came here because he wanted the structure, he wants to get it right, he wants to do things the right way and we want to help him do that.

“I think he’s got the right heart and right character to do it. I just think that — I would hate to think how I would have managed the attention that he got and a lot of these young people get when I was 17 or 18 years old. I don’t know if I would have been nearly mature enough to be able to manage it the way sometimes people would expect it to be managed. Especially — and you know I love the media and I would never blame this on you all for creating some of the circumstances you create that are very difficult for these young guys to manage.”

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Anthony Grant, Andrew Steele news conference comments

Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant had a regular game-week news conference this afternoon to talk about the 49-37 loss to Auburn and Saturday’s contest against LSU. Senior guard Andrew Steele joined him to share some thoughts.

Here are the highlights:

ANTHONY GRANT
On what he saw after challenging his team to take a ‘good look in the mirror’ after Auburn game: “We have to play a lot better. We didn’t play well. Anytime you look at the offensive numbers that we put up, the defensive numbers that we gave up, it going to be tough to win in those situations when you don’t bring your best. We have to understand that.”

On how do you pick up the pieces from a loss like Auburn: “Every game counts as one, whether it’s a big win or a loss. It is one game; we have a very talented LSU team coming in our building, so our mindset is on LSU. They are playing their best basketball right now so we’ve got to do a really good job. It starts on the defensive end as always for us. They have a lot of guys that shoot the ball extremely well from the three point line. They are very good in transition and have size and physicality up front so we’re going to have to do a great job on the defensive end first and foremost.”

On whether Devonta Pollard is passing up shots or not: “I don’t think so. Watching the film, I don’t think so. We never go in and try and designate the number of shots that each guy is going to get, the game kind of takes care of that. I think all these guys will tell you, the only thing we ask is to execute and take good shots. That’s what we try to do.”

On LSU guard Andre Stringer: “Stringer has been through the league a couple of times. I am really impressed with the way he shoots the basketball. Obviously, he’s extremely dangerous from three. He’s got unlimited range. He’s done a really good job for their team on the defensive end as well. I think they, right now, lead the league in steals. Between him and [Anthony] Hickey I think they are doing a terrific job of creating havoc from a defensive standpoint with the way they get after the basketball. Both of them both really shoot the ball well.”

ANDREW STEELE
On what he saw when he looked in the mirror: “What coach said is right, but after every game, win or lose, we always try to find a way to get better as a team. That’s always our focus so that’s what we are trying to do.”

On his leadership and what he’s taken upon himself: “To try and do the same things that I’ve been doing. I think the way I play, with the right attitude and mindset; I can have a contagious effect on my teammates. I kind of take that role personally, but the biggest thing is to keep encouraging them and to help them recognize that we still have a lot to play for. What happened on Wednesday we can’t do anything about, but we just have to look forward and take care of one game at a time. For me, I’ve been in situations like this before, so I think my experience can kind of help them get through these kinds of situations.”

On LSU guard Andre Stringer: “He’s a really good player. He impacts their team in a lot of ways. He’s one of those guys that you can’t necessarily shut him out, you hope to contain him and make it tough for him and limit his opportunities. He’s a good player and we just have to do a good against him and the rest of their team.”

On the state of the team after the loss to Auburn: “Obviously, losing hurts no matter who it is. When it’s against Auburn, it hurts a little bit more. The thing is there is nothing we can do about it. The game is over, we can’t go back and change it but what we can control is what we do going forward. What we can’t do is let one loss turn into two or three. Our only focus right now is a good LSU team tomorrow, so anything other than that is pretty much irrelevant at this point.”

Eddie Lacy in running for NCAA Football 14 cover

Alabama is one of eight quarterfinalists for the EA Sports NCAA Football 14 cover, and if the Crimson Tide wins, running back Eddie Lacy will land on the coveted spot.

You can go to Facebook and vote for Alabama by clicking here. When I checked this evening, the Crimson Tide is leading. Voting continues through Feb. 18.

Here’s a video from EA Sports promoting Lacy:

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Saban confirms assistant coach leaves to join Eagles

Alabama coach Nick Saban confirmed today offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is leaving the Crimson Tide for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Stoutland is expected to hold the same position for Philadelphia. Stoutland has coached collegiately at his alma mater Southern Connecticut, Cornell, Syracuse, Michigan State and Miami in addition to the past two seasons Alabama, but this is his first NFL job.

“Coach Stoutland did an excellent job with our offensive line along with each and every responsibility he had while he was here at the University of Alabama,” Saban said in a statement released Friday afternoon. “We appreciate all that he did in terms of his time and his dedication in contributing to the success we’ve had over the last two years. He’s an outstanding coach and he will do a great job with the Eagles. We wish him and his family the best.”

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Saban on running backs, SEC recruiting, fans

In video from Wednesday’s signing-day news conference, Alabama coach Nick Saban discusses the depth at running back and changes in the Southeastern Conference changing his recruiting style. He also gives a nice nod to the Tide fans:

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