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Jumbo Package: Saban rebuilds, again

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. The Gym Tide will host LSU tonight, televised live on SEC Network at 8pm CT. The 9th-ranked ladies will try and build some momentum after their victory over #6 Georgia last week.

A five star RB decommitted from Ole Miss a couple of weeks ago, and Saban has pounced.

After spending nearly a year committed to Ole Miss, Ealy de-committed from the Rebels on Jan. 8. The consensus 5-star recruit, as rated by 247Sports, has since named Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and Clemson as his possible choices when he signs with a school on National Signing Day, Feb. 6.

But Ealy’s choice of school is only the first major decision he’ll soon need to makeabout his future, as multiple projections predict he will be a first-round pick in the Major League Baseball Draft in June.

Why a kid would turn down first round baseball money to get beat to death as a running back is something I can’t understand, but if that’s what he wants, he may as well do it in Tuscaloosa.

Nick Saban hasn’t spoken to the media recently, but Simone Eli managed to catch up with him.

“I think you’re always going to have changes,” he explained. “You like to have continuity. But sometimes changes bring a lot of positive energy, new energy, new ideas and we’re looking forward to sort of rebuilding the program so it’s what we want it to be.”

Saban, of course, was referring to the influx of new coaches Alabama has added in recent weeks. Five assistants left the Crimson Tide in the aftermath of its 44-16 loss in the national championship game on Jan. 7, ushering in a wave of replacements that includes Steve Sarkisian, Sal Sunseri, Kyle Flood, Charles Kelly, Holmon Wiggins and Charles Huff.

There is a lot of talent and experience in this group, and some known quantities in Sarkisian and Sunseri. Saban’s demands won’t be a surprise for those two.

Taulia Tagovailoa won a nice award and, with the departure of Jalen Hurts, may be in line to compete for the backup job this fall.

Taulia, his parents and Thompson coach Mark Freeman made the drive to Atlanta tonight as he received the Bobby Dodd High School National Back of the Year award from the Atlanta Touchdown Club. He threw for 3,728 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2018, against just five interceptions, and added six rushing TDs in leading Thompson to its first state championship game appearance since 1982.

Congrats to “Lia.” Of course, Mac Jones and Paul Tyson will also be in the mix.

Antonio Alfano is the most obvious candidate to compete as a true freshman, but several have a shot.

TR says: “Being exposed to some of the very best competition in all of high school football moves Battle up a notch in my book. Not only that, he’s been a part of a program that emulates a Power Five setup in every aspect. Already shows awareness and understanding of responsibilities while in zone coverage that most prep safeties don’t. Very good with the ball in his hands post-takeaway/kick, so he’ll fit in well with a team that thrives on non-offensive touchdowns.”

It’s a shame that Battle couldn’t enroll early. With the departure of Deionte Thompson, the rangy ball-hawk has a legitimate shot to get on the field as a freshman. Evan Neal is another name to watch with three openings on the OL.

Christian Miller seems to be recovering well.

Miller suffered a hamstring injury during the Crimson Tide’s Orange Bowl semifinal win over No. 4 Oklahoma. The team captain had to be helped off the field and was on crutches in the locker room after the 45-34 win. Before exiting the game, he registered a critical third-down sack.

Now, however, Miller is getting close to full health, and he expects to be ready for the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, which will take place Tuesday, Feb. 26, to Monday, March 4, in Indianapolis, Ind.

Oh, how we missed Christian’s services in Santa Clara.

Last, the Alabama family mourns the loss of longtime assistant coach Jack Rutledge.

He’d unfailingly ask how things were going with me, or tell me about a column he had enjoyed. Both he and Mrs. Rutledge were always sweet, kind and sincere. He had a loyalty to his friends and his alma mater and to Tuscaloosa that never faded.

Jack Rutledge is part of Alabama history, a contributor to a glorious past, a rare breed of man. I just wish I could hear him tell one more story and share a laugh with him once more — a man I knew forever but realize today that it wasn’t long enough.

Rutledge played under Bear Bryant then coached under him for 27 years. He is well known and loved by many around Tuscaloosa. Rest in peace, Jack.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.