Nick Saban

Nation’s No. 1 2014 recruit opts for Tide over home-state LSU

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Surprise!  Nick Saban and his coaching staff have done it again on the recruiting trail.

In a press conference televised live on ESPNU Wednesday afternoon from his high school, Cameron Robinson, 247Sports.com‘s No. 1 player at any position in the Class of 2014, announced that he has verbally committed to play his collegiate football at Alabama.  The West Monroe, La., offensive tackle opted for the Tide over the other member of his Top Two, LSU.

The verbal to the Tide comes a handful of days after Robinson’s good friend, four-star Monroe, La., wide receiver Cameron Sims, committed to UA,

(Writer’s note: it’s at this point in the program where we, as always, note that verbal commitments are non-binding and nothing is official until pen is put to National Letter of Intent paper)

Robinson plans to graduate high school in December and, at least for now, enroll at Alabama in January.

The 6-6, 320-pound Robinson had narrowed down his choices to Alabama and LSU in late May, eschewing planned visits to schools like Georgia and Texas A&M.  As recently as late July, Robinson denied that he had a favorite among the two.

“Neither school has really separated themselves from each other,” Robinson said. “People are talking and don’t know what they’re talking about. Neither school has led for me. I don’t have a lead school other than those two. If I had to make a choice tomorrow I don’t know if I could because I actually don’t know where I want to go.”

In addition to being the top player in the country according to 247Sports.com, Rivals.com puts Robinson as the No. 3 player at any position while Scout.com ranks him No. 2.  Suffice to say, he’s the consensus No. 1 offensive lineman in next year’s class.

The fact that the Tide landed a verbal from one of the top players in the country, though, is hardly a surprise, even as they went into LSU’s backyard to do so.  Rivals ranks Alabama’s 2014 recruiting class — 19 commitments, 13 of them four-star players — as the No. 1 class in the country.  Since 2008, Saban’s second year in Tuscaloosa, the Tide has claimed that recruiting service’s top class a whopping five times.  The only time in that six-year stretch they weren’t the No. 1 class was 2010 when they were No. 5.

UA’s worst finish under Saban was the coach’s first year (No. 10, 2007).  To put the recruiting success with Saban involved into perspective, the Tide finished No. 30 (2002), No. 49 (2003), No. 24 (2004), No. 18 (2005) and No. 11 (2006) in the five years prior to Saban’s arrival.

Roll Damn Tide indeed.

SEC overturns Florida WR Brandon Powell’s half-game suspension for phantom punch

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 03: Brandon Powell #4 of the Florida Gators scores on a 77 yard touchdown reception during the second quarter of the game against the Mississippi Rebels on October 3, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Fortunately for both Brandon Powell and Florida, common sense in the league office prevailed.

In the fourth quarter of UF’s loss to Tennessee, Powell was flagged for an unsportsmanlike call and ejected from the game for seemingly throwing a punch at a Vols player.  Because of SEC rules, Powell was also set to be suspended from the first half of this Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt.

The conference, however, overturned the suspension upon review, no doubt determining that Vols safety Rashaan Gaulden performed a flop of such magnitude that it would’ve made an international soccer star stand up and cheer, then bow down and claim they’re not worthy.

We’ve received word that he’ll go,” head coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday. “Nothing from there, so he was full go from Monday afternoon on.”

Powell is currently second on the team with 15 receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns.

Report: Season-opening starting QB Blake Barnett transferring from Alabama

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 3: Blake Barnett #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws against the USC Trojans in the first quarter during the AdvoCare Classic at AT&T Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Not surprisingly, the rise of Jalen Hurts has led to some turnover in Alabama’s quarterback room.

Citing unnamed sources, al.com is reporting that Blake Barnett has left the Tide football program and is expected to transfer.  Thus far, the school has declined to address Barnett’s status with the team moving forward.

Barnett started the season opener against USC but lasted all of two series before being replaced by the true freshman Hurts.  In his three starts since, all wins for the top-ranked Tide, Hurts has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 609 yards and three touchdowns.  Most importantly, he hasn’t throw an interception, although he did toss one in relief of Barnett.

A five-star 2015 recruit, Barnett was rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 21 player overall on 247sports.com’s composite board.  The 6-5, 200-pounder took a redshirt as a true freshman.

Hurts also adds an extra dimension in the running game as he’s second on the team with 251 yards rushing and tied for the lead with three rushing touchdowns.

Should Barnett move on to another FBS program, he’d likely have to sit out the 2017 season.  He’d then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.

With Barnett presumably gone, the Tide would likely turn to Cooper Bateman, who served as Jake Coker‘s primary backup last season and started one game, as Hurts’ primary backup.

Purdue’s Martesse Patterson facing felony battery charge

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: Purdue Boilermakers mascot Purdue Pete is seen during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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A rather serious-sounding situation is the latest to trigger a resetting of the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.

According to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, Martesse Patterson was arrested Wednesday and charged with one count of battery resulting in serious bodily injury.  That charge is a felony.

Even more noteworthy is the fact that the charge stems from an altercation with a former teammate, ex-Boilermaker walk-on Alex Hilger.  From the Journal & Courier:

Hilger alleged that on Sept. 7, Patterson entered Hilger’s room at their residence in the 800 block of Hayes Street in West Lafayette “to borrow some property.” Hilger told Patterson he was not allowed to borrow the property, but Patterson took it anyway and returned to his room.

According to the affidavit, when Hilger approached Patterson to retrieve his possession, Patterson punched him in the face. Hilger sought treatment at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after sustaining a broken jaw requiring a two-day hospital stay. The affidavit cites medical records showing Hilger suffered a “displaced fracture of the left mandible and a non-displaced fracture of the right mandible.

Hilger, who played in 12 games last season but is not a member of the team this year, obtained a no-contact order against Patterson, who admitted to police that he both took the property and punched Hilger.

Darrell Hazell is aware of the situation, with a statement saying that the head coach “respects that there is a legal process that he will allow to evolve before further commenting.”

Patterson started the first two games of the season before being demoted for what Hazell described as a “personal matter.” The demotion came shortly after the incident that led to the charge.

Report: Arizona lineman Zach Hemmila’s death caused by toxic mix of prescription drugs

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 03:  Arizona Wildcats helmets display the #65 to honor offensive lineman Zach Hemmila who passed away in the off-season before the college football game against the Brigham Young Cougars at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Nearly two months after his tragic passing, a cause of death for Zach Hemmila has been confirmed.

Based on the autopsy report filed by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Republic is reporting that the 22-year-old Hemmila’s death was the result of the combined toxic effects of two different prescription drugs. The two drugs, the Republic noted, were oxymorphone, an opiate painkiller, and alprazolam, an anxiety medication.

From the newspaper’s report:

Chewing tobacco was found in Hemmila’s mouth, according to the autopsy report. No intact pills were discovered in his gastrointestinal system. His lungs were “markedly congested,” per the report.

Hemmila passed away either very late on the night of Aug. 7 or early in the morning Aug. 8. A cousin discovered Hemmila’s body at the Arizona offensive lineman’s residence.

His death has officially been ruled an accident.

“Arizona Athletics continues to mourn the passing of Zach Hemmila,” a statement from the university said in response to the report. “We will honor the family’s request for privacy and support them in any way we can.”

Hemmila started six games last season. He was slated to start at center for the Wildcats this season.

The Wildcats will continue to wear a sticker the No. 65 to honor Hemmila for the remainder of the season.