Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
History lesson: Vince Sutton
Alex Byington of the Times Daily and Decatur Daily has today’s must-read story on the last true freshman to start at quarterback for Alabama. I consider myself fairly knowledgable about Alabama football history, having grown up hearing about it, but Vince Sutton was a new one for me. Alex’s story is an educational dip into Alabama history with emotional resonance: Sutton is dealing with a litany of medical issues, including thrice-weekly dialysis.
- Marq Burnett has your practice updates, including the return of Tony Brown.
- USA Today has the undefeated defending national champion in the first playoff projection of the year. Bold.
- Wait, why is former WWE announcer Jim Ross on its mock selection committee?
- SEC Country’s Alex Martin Smith has these delightful photographs of Nick Saban’s time at Kent State. Look at that dreamboat.
- The Million Dollar Band has a fancy new $8 million dollar band room. It’s being billed as an “indoor practice facility” by some, but it’s not really. It’s a room for music rehearsal, but there’s no field and a 400-piece band can’t move around in that room. Also, the band members still have to use the restroom at a neighboring Arby’s during most rehearsals.
- Bama Online’s Charlie Potter on what makes the difference for defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson.
- Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel has No. 1 Alabama taking on No. 4 Stanford in the Peach Bowl.
- Wide receiver Cam Sims has struggled to put it together for Alabama, but with ArDarius Stewart out, is now his time?
- Former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson breaks down the Ole Miss game film with AL.com’s Lauren Sisler.
Now it’s official
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) September 20, 2016
Alabama’s latest national championship plaque runs right up to the steps of Bryant-Denny Stadium, meaning there’s no room for the next championship plaque as currently configured. I’m not sure what they’ll do if they win in 2016, but I know what they should do: tear up 1941.
Around the Capstone
- Alabama baseball announced its schedule for coach Greg Goff’s first season at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide open with 20 consecutive home games.
- In related news, “The Joe” was ranked the 12th-best college baseball stadium in America in a survey of coaches and SIDs (Paywall warning).
- The women’s basketball team announced the conference portion of its 2016-17 schedule, the final part of its return to Coleman Coliseum. The Crimson Tide open on the road against South Carolina, the three-time defending SEC champions.
- Tickets for Alabama basketball’s Dec. 21 game in Huntsville are on sale, only the second Alabama game in the city’s history. The arena seats just 7,000, so tickets may go fast.
- Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams are ranked in the top 5 in the region.
Top five breakout players
Amazingly, Alabama already is a quarter of the way through football season. Though most would have predicted the undefeated record the Crimson Tide currently enjoy, there have been some surprises on the way. With squad rotation assured for Saturday’s game against Kent State, let’s take a look at the five breakout stars of Alabama’s season so far.
5. Damien Harris, RB: It seems strange to say, since Harris’ name was well-known by the end of last season, but the sophomore got lost in the hype for freshman Bo Scarbrough. While Scarbrough has struggled to earn playing time and make an impact, Harris is averaging 109 yards per game and a staggering 9.1 yards per carry.
4. Dalvin Tomlinson, DL: Tomlinson is a redshirt senior but has struggled to break through in a legendarily crowded defensive front. This season, Tomlinson is excelling as a starter. He has 11 tackles this season and is a difference-maker on a run defense poised to be nearly unbreakable.
3. Trevon Diggs, WR: So maybe I’m starting the hype train a little early, since he only has one catch, but Diggs already has shown speed and agility on special teams. With Alabama’s injuries and an easier opponent Saturday, the former four-star athlete could make his mark against Kent State.
2. ArDarius Stewart, WR: Another name from last season, but I’m not sure an injury to Stewart would have solicited the widespread handwringing then that it did last Saturday. Stewart has the kind of physicality, speed and skill that Lane Kiffin absolutely needs to make his offense go. Bubble screens don’t work without wide receivers who can block.
1. Jalen Hurts, QB: First true freshman quarterback to start for Alabama since 1984. Sixty-one percent completion percentage, 158 passing and 146 rushing yards against the Ole Miss defense. Not bad for the quarterback many thought would be on the outside looking in this season.
If you can read this…
"Boy, if it weren't for teachers … I surely wouldn't being sitting here right now."
— SEC (@SEC) September 20, 2016
A lot of times Saban sounds more than a little awkward filming these PSAs, but it appears the prompt for this was just “talk about how great teachers are for a little while.” It works much better this way.
Get your 4s up
Halfway through the week. See y’all tomorrow.