Alabama football: Hurts making impact off the field

Welcome to The Rammer Jammer, SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap. Today, we look at Jalen Hurts’ off-field gestures and an anniversary for Alabama’s dean of coaches. 

Jalen Hurts’ play on the field, for some reason, has been controversial lately. Everyone has an opinion on the defending SEC Offensive Player of the Year — some reasoned, others … less so. What can’t be disputed is his conduct off the field. He’s poised in front of the media, gracious with his fans and conscious of his obligation to give back.

Case in point: Hurts is drawing his most recent attention from a touching visit to Arts ‘n Autism, a local after-school program that helps people living with autism spectrum disorders navigate education and employment.

I encourage you to read all about Hurts’ visit and music teacher Justin Mixon here, thanks to Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News. If you feel so moved, you can learn more about Arts ‘n Autism, or you can research some similar initiatives in your own community.

ICYMI

Built by Bama

AL.com is doing a great job tracking the different mock drafts and what they say about Alabama’s now-former players. They even have a section for long snapper Cole Mazza.

Featured prominently in many of those drafts is linebacker Ryan Anderson, who is just a few weeks away from changing his family’s path and earning millions of dollars in the NFL. The first thing he’ll do with his money? What so many of his fellow alumni have done: buy his mom a house. 

Possibly on an NFL roster, a blast from the past from Alabama’s defensive backs:

In baseball, Tommy Hunter tossed 1.1 innings of relief as the Tampa Bay Rays fell to Toronto, 5-2. He struck out 3 and allowed no base runners. Pinch-hitter Alex Avila went 1 for 1 at the plate, recording an RBI double as his Tigers lost to the White Sox. Adam Morgan got shelled in his first start of the season, giving up 3 runs in just 2.1 innings as his Phillies lost to Cincinnati, 7-4.

At the Masters, Justin Thomas is 1-over par, tied for 19th after the first round, a windy affair that hampered long-driving stars like Thomas. He did shine on the greens, pouring in one particularly impressive 30-footer for birdie on No. 11. That putt went to a good cause:

Around the Capstone

The ball-and-bat sports face crucial series this weekend. Softball hosts No. 11 LSU this weekend in a series that begins its run-in to the postseason. Beating LSU positions Alabama to contend for a top-8 seed in postseason play and the right to host the regional and super regional tournaments. A loss sets back Alabama further in both SEC and national competition.

Baseball, meanwhile, will travel down the road to Oxford to take on an Ole Miss squad that’s doing about as well in conference play as Alabama is — which is to say not well. The Crimson Tide have taken wins off some of the best teams in the country but haven’t been able to convert them into series victories. If Alabama wants a shot in Hoover, it has to start winning SEC series, and quickly.

The men’s golf team will conclude its regular season at the Clemson Invitational. Women’s tennis will host Auburn this weekend, while the men travel to Vanderbilt and Kentucky. 

One of the fastest backstrokers in history, Alabama’s Connor Oslin, was named the SEC swimming and diving scholar-athlete of the year for his three SEC championships and 3.9 pre-med GPA. Teammate Anton McKee and volleyball’s Krystal Rivers were nominated for the SEC’s postgraduate scholarships. 

And a very special shout-out to Alabama women’s tennis coach Jenny Mainz, who is celebrating 20 years at the university. Mainz is the dean of Alabama coaches and is one of the most gracious, passionate and engaging people I’ve ever met.

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