Tide confirms LB Reggie Ragland, DL Jarran Reed to return to school

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The graduation/early-entry double whammy hasn’t been kind to Alabama’s offense, but the Tide’s defense should be all kinds of salty in 2015.

The school announced Thursday that linebacker Reggie Ragland and defensive lineman Jarran Reed will return to school in 2015.

I’ve thought a lot about this decision and talked to my family, Coach Saban, and everyone close to me,” Ragland said in a statement. “I’m going to return to the University of Alabama for my senior season. One of the big factors for me and my family is earning my degree and I’m on track to graduate. You only form a brotherhood like this once and I look forward to spending another season here with my teammates. Roll Tide.”

A junior, Ragland ranked second on the club with 95 stops, 10.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception and three fumble recoveries. His Twitter account actually beat his canned quote to the punch.

Reed transferred in from East Mississippi Community College and led the defensive line with 55 tackles. He also posted 6.5 TFL and a sack.

“After sitting down with my family, Coach Saban and Coach (Bo) Davis, I have decided to return to Alabama for my senior year,” Reed said. “I am on track to finish my degree and that is very important to me. The chance to play in the NFL is still my dream, but I am excited about another year at Alabama with my teammates. I learned a lot being here last year, and I’m confident another year will only improve my chances to succeed in the future.”

Alabama lost quarterback Blake Sims to graduation and wide receiver Amari Cooper, running back T.J. Yeldon as well as safety Landon Collins to early declarations for May’s NFL Draft.

With Ragland and Reed in the fold, perhaps Alabama will return to beating foes 21-7 instead of 45-28. Oh, Lane Kiffin is coming back also, you say? Yeah, go ahead and scratch all that.

Nation’s top 2015 RB opts for Bama over home-state Kentucky

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And the rich get richer.  Or the loaded get more loaded, however you want to frame it.

Already blessed with a plethora of talent in the backfield, Alabama added to that wealth Friday afternoon when Damien Harris announced that he has verbally committed to play his college football with the Tide.  Harris’ decision came down to UA or his home-state Kentucky, although Ohio State had been in the mix deep into the process.

Rivals.com, and every other major recruiting service for that matter, has Harris listed as a five-star recruit, rated as the No. 1 running back and the No. 11 player at any position in the country in the Class of 2015.

Harris’ announcement comes the same day that running back T.J. Yeldon, five-star member of the Tide’s 2012 recruiting class, confirmed he is leaving early for the NFL.

Alabama had already come into the afternoon with Rivals‘ top-ranked recruiting class, and by a significant margin over No. 2 Florida State (2,999 points to 2,716).  Six of the Tide’s 26 commitments are five-stars, while another 13 are four-stars.  FSU, though, actually actually has a (slightly) higher average star rating than UA, with the Seminoles at 3.95 and the Tide at 3.92.

Harris, incidentally, is the second running back committed to Bama’s 2015 class, joining four-star prospect Desherrius Flowers.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

Tide trio confirms early entry into NFL draft

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Yesterday it was reported that, as had been expected throughout the season, three prominent members of the Alabama football program would be leaving eligibility on the table for a shot at the pros.  Today, that’s come to fruition.

At a press conference Friday, safety Landon Collins, wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back T.J. Yeldon announced that they will be forgoing their senior season to enter the 2015 NFL Draft. According to the school, Alabama has had 18 players leave early under head coach Nick Saban, 12 of whom were first-round draft picks.

Collins and Cooper are expected to be high first-round picks, while Yeldon may go as high as the second round.

Cooper will enter the draft coming off a season in which set a slew of records, recording 124 receptions (first nationally) for 1,727 yards (second) and 16 receiving touchdowns (second) on his way to unanimous All-American status.  The receptions and yards are single-season UA records, while the catches are the most in SEC history and the yards the second-most for the conference.

The 2014 Biletnikoff Award winner is viewed as a potential, or even likely, Top-10 pick.

Collins is generally viewed as the top player at his position in draft projections and is viewed by some as a likely Top-10 selection.  In leading the Tide in tackles (102) and tying for the team lead in interceptions (three), Collins was named as a Thorpe and Nagurski finalist.  After starting nine games as a second-team All-SEC performer in 2013, Collins was named first-team all-conference in starting all 14 games for the Tide this season.

Yeldon finished second on the Tide in rushing (979 yards) and tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns (11). His 3,322 rushing yards are fourth in school history while his 37 rushing touchdowns are third.

Collins, Cooper, Yeldon will reportedly leave Tide for NFL

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Not so unexpectedly, Alabama will have rather sizable holes on both sides of the ball to fill in 2015.

Citing league sources, Yahoo SportsRand Getlin is reporting that safety Landon Collins will leave the Tide early for the NFL draft.  A short time later, ESPN.com‘s Chris Low reported that both wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back T.J. Yeldon would be doing the same.

Neither the school nor the players have confirmed the move, although a confirmation should happen in short order as the deadline for early entry is exactly a week from today.

Cooper will enter the draft coming off a season in which set a slew of records, recording 124 receptions (first nationally) for 1,727 yards (second) and 16 receiving touchdowns (second) on his way to unanimous All-American status.  The 2014 Biletnikoff Award winner is viewed as a potential, or even likely, Top-10 pick, so his decision to declare early won’t exactly come as a shock.

The move is far from surprising for Collins, too, as he is generally viewed as the top player at his position in draft projections and is viewed by some as a likely Top-10 selection.

In leading the Tide in tackles (102) and tying for the team lead in interceptions (three), Collins was named as a Thorpe and Nagurski finalist.  After starting nine games as a second-team All-SEC performer in 2013, Collins was named first-team all-conference in starting all 14 games for the Tide this season.

Yeldon finished second on the Tide in rushing (979 yards) and tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns (11).  Because of the presence of Derrick Henry, and well as a stable full of backfield talent, Yeldon’s departure will likely be viewed as the least impactful.

Ohio State out-gaining Alabama but trailing by one at the break

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There have been the second-start mistakes you’d expect from a third-string quarterback, but Cardale Jones has made the plays necessary on the ground and through the air to keep Ohio State within 21-20 of No. 1 Alabama through one half of the Sugar Bowl.

After notching field goals on its first two possessions, Ohio State fell into the danger zone down 21-6 midway through the second quarter, but closed the half with consecutive scores to pull within one. First, Ezekiel Elliott punched in a two-yard plunge with 2:55 to play before the break, and then wide receiver Evan Spencer hit Michael Thomas for a 13-yard scoring strike with 12 seconds left on the clock.

Elliott has gashed the Tide front with 12 carries for 117 yards, and Jones – wobbly early – has completed 13-of-24 passes for 168 yards with an interception and rushed eight times for 39 yards. Overall, Ohio State has rushed for 167 yards (Alabama allows 89 a game, best in the nation before today), out-gained Alabama 348-139, posted a 16-8 first downs edge and converted 7-of-10 third downs, compared to Alabama’s 1-for-6.

Alabama scored two of its three touchdowns on short fields thanks to Ohio State turnovers – an Elliott fumble and Jones’ interception – and put together one 79-yard touchdown drive to accumulate its 21 points, but the Tide’s four other possessions have all gone three-and-out. Blake Sims completed 10-of-14 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown, with six completions, 39 yards and the touchdown going to Amari Cooper. Handling most of the reps for a gimpy T.J. YeldonDerrick Henry has rumbled for 56 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

Ohio State will receive the ball to open the second half.