Nick Saban gives impassioned defense for D.J. Pettway’s second chance

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In February of 2013, four Alabama football players, including D.J. Pettway, were arrested in connection with a pair of robberies and, following an initial suspension, dismissed from the football program.  Only Pettway, in December of last year, was ultimately permitted to return to the Tide.

The second chance caused enough of a controversy — Pettway had initially been charged with a pair of felonies that involved beating a UA student— the the university took the somewhat unusual step of releasing a statement from the school’s athletic director addressing the reinstatement.

Fast-forward almost exactly a year, and Alabama is one win away from an appearance in the national championship game, and Pettway has played a role in the Tide’s success as a rush defensive end.  Not only that, but Pettway has earned his degree in just three and a half years.  He’s obviously done well with his second chance, regardless of whether some people think he deserved it at the time based on the serious nature of the crime.

It’s those people, though, for whom Nick Saban had some very choice words as he stepped up to the pulpit following Saturday’s practice and delivered a passionate sermon on second chances.  From al.com‘s account of Saban’s speech:

“Where do you want them to be? Guy makes a mistake. Where do you want them to be? You want him to be [on] the street or do you want them to be here graduating?”

He made reference to Muhsin Muhammad, who got in trouble while playing for Saban at Michigan State but turned into a success story after his second chance.

“Everybody in the school, every newspaper guy, everybody was killing [Muhammad] because he got in trouble and they said there’s no way he should be on our team,” Saban said. “I didn’t kick him off the team. I suspended him. I made him do some stuff.”

The receiver enjoyed a 15-year career in the NFL. He created a charity foundation called “The M2 Foundation for Kids.” Saban noted that he has seven children, and his oldest daughter is at Princeton.

“So who was right? I feel strong about this now, really strong, about all the criticism out there of every guy that’s 19 years old that makes a mistake and you all kill them,” Saban said.

“Some people won’t stand up for him. My question to you is, ‘Where do you want him to be?’ You want to condemn him to a life sentence? Or do you want the guy to have his children going to Princeton?”

Regardless of where you stand on football players and second chances, that’s some powerful stuff right there from Coach Saban.

Alabama QB signee Bryce Young leaps to top of 247’s Class of 2020 player rankings

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Not only does the Alabama Crimson Tide football team currently hold the nation’s top recruiting class, they now boast the nation’s top player. Well, at least according to one recruiting service they do.

During the Early Signing Period last month, Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young signed with Alabama. At the time, Young was the No. 3 player in the country according to 247Sports.com.

Tuesday, ahead of National Signing Day next week, the recruiting website released its final player rankings for the Class of 2020. And, according to that service, Young is now the No. 1 recruit in this year’s class.

Quarterback and Clemson signee DJ Uiagalelei is the No. 2 prospect. Another Clemson signee, defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, is No. 3. The rest of the Top Five is rounded out by an Ohio State signee, wide receiver Julian Fleming, and another Alabama Crimson Tide football signee, weakside defensive end Will Anderson.

The recruiting website explained the process that went into making the decision on the top player in this class:

There were three worthy candidates but there’s a new No. 1. In almost any year, any one of DJ Uiagalelei, Bryce Young and Bryan Bresee would be a clear No. 1. This year, two had to settle for something less. We landed on Young as our top guy after extensive deliberation. Despite Bresee being one of the best defensive linemen we’ve scouted in years, he was up against two quarterbacks that finish with the same rating as Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, our highest grade ever given to a quarterback. When it’s close, and a true No. 1 candidate is there at quarterback, we felt that position had to get the nod. Here’s our roundtable discussion on how we sorted through these three elite talents.

Despite coming up short on some of the physical tools that Uiagalelei boasts, Young’s consistency, instincts, accuracy and body of work both during his career, senior season and all-star performances was just too much to pass up for us. As the game turns to the best player going No. 1, regardless of traits (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow), we felt like Young gives us our best shot at hitting on the No. 1 player.

As for the 247 composite, which takes into consideration other recruiting services such as Rivals and ESPN? Bresee is the No. 1 recruit in the country, followed by Young and Fleming. According to that same composite, Uiagalelei is the No. 10 prospect in the Class of 2020.

Ex-Duke WR Aaron Young lands at Florida Atlantic

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When Duke wide receiver Aaron Young first entered the transfer portal, nearly a year ago to the day, he wanted to head back west.“I’m looking for a graduate program that I can get into since I can’t get into one here, and also a chance to play closer to home,” the California native told 247Sports at the time.

Young later pulled his name from the portal and played the 2019 season for the Blue Devils. His 29 receptions for 367 yards and three touchdowns ranked him second among all Duke wide receivers.

Still unable to get into graduate school at Duke, Young re-entered the portal two days after Christmas, and now he’s found his next destination — which is very much not closer to his Murrieta, Calif., home.

Young later replied to the tweet, comically correcting FAU Owl’s Nest to let them know he’s actually 6’4″ and 210 pounds.

Immediately eligible to play his sixth season, Young will join a defending Conference USA champion team that nonetheless loses four of its top five pass catchers. In 37 career games, Young owns 63 grabs for 849 yards and seven touchdowns.

LSU now losing multiple support staffers to bigger jobs

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To the victor comes the spoils, they say. And the spoils are all leaving town.

LSU was already set to lose a lot on the field, with eight early entrants plus seniors like Joe BurrowKristian Fulton and both guards on their Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line. And though losing passing game coordinator Joe Brady to the Panthers and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to Baylor — damn you, Matt Rhule — wasn’t unexpected, it was still a blow.

But LSU is now losing third-level assistants, the type of guys only the most purple and gold of LSU fans knew but the guys who made the machine hum the way it did.

Jorge Munoz, an analyst and former Louisiana-Lafayette offensive coordinator widely speculated to slide into Brady’s role, left to join Aranda at Baylor. Offensive graduate assistant John Decoster took a job as the tight ends coach at Old Dominion. Defensive analyst Dennis Johnson, who would’ve coached LSU’s defensive line had he not injured both knees playing basketball in the offseason, also followed Aranda to Baylor.

And now longtime defensive analyst Ronnie Wheat is leaving to become the safeties coach at Nevada, according to multiple reports Tuesday.

Wheat had more than earned his promotion, spending the past seven seasons on LSU’s support staff while working under coordinators John ChavisKevin Steele and Aranda. According to Geaux247, who broke the story, Wheat was instrumental in developing linebackers such as Devin White and Kendell Beckwith, and helped reel in a pair of 4-star linebackers in LSU’s 2020 recruiting class.

To be clear, change is the nature of college football. The roster turns over completely every five years, and losing assistants to bigger and better jobs is the price of victory. On a personal level, you want to lose your guys to bigger jobs, because it makes the jobs you have all the more attractive. Alabama’s staff has almost completely turned over from its 2017 national championship, to say nothing of the now-ancient 2009 title, and yet Nick Saban keeps the Crimson Tide humming.

Now it’s Ed Orgeron‘s turn.

Stanford transfer QB KJ Costello to visit Washington

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KJ Costello may have left the Stanford football program, but he could still end up playing in the Pac-12.  Maybe.

In mid-December, it was confirmed that Costello had entered his name into the NCAA transfer database, the first step in a potential move from the Stanford football team.  Tuesday, Mike Vorel of the Seattle Times has reported that the quarterback will visit Washington today.

This would be the first known visit made by Costello.

Regardless of where he ultimately lands, Costello would be leaving Stanford football as a graduate transfer.  That would allow him to play immediately at another FBS school in 2020.  The upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.

The 6-5, 222-pound Costello started all 13 games for the Cardinal in 2018 after starting seven the year before. As a redshirt sophomore during that 2018 season, Costello was named second-team All-Pac-12.

This past season was an entirely different story. In very large part because of multiple injuries (thumb, head), Costello played in just five games in 2019.  He last made an appearance Nov. 9, which turned out to likely be his last in a Stanford football uniform.

For his career thus far, Costello has completed 494 of his 790 passes (62.5 completion percentage) for 6,141 yards, 49 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.  He’s added another three touchdowns on the ground, although all of those came as a redshirt freshman in 2017.

This season, Costello threw for 1,028 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions as he completed just under 61 percent of his 166 pass attempts.

A four-star member of Stanford’s 2016 recruiting class, Costello was rated as the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 7 player at any position in the state of California; and the No. 47 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only one signee in the Cardinal’s class that year, tight end Kaden Smith, was rated higher than Costello.

For those wondering: Yes, Stanford plays Washington in 2020, with the Huskies hosting the Cardinal Nov. 7.