Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban has words for Mercer linebacker Jordan Williams (40) as he leaves the field Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Bryant-Denny Stadium. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Alabama Vs Mercer

No. 1 Alabama wants to show Utah State its trophy mentality

Alabama was runner-up to national title winner Georgia last season, but there’s a three-peat on the line for the Crimson Tide in 2022.

Linebacker Will Anderson is a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, which resided in Tuscaloosa at the end of each of the past two seasons thanks to wide receiver DeVonta Smith (2020) and quarterback Bryce Young (2021).

Anderson and Young will make their opening statements of the 2022 season when No. 1 Alabama hosts Utah State (1-0) in the season opener for the Crimson Tide on Saturday night.

Utah State beat UConn 31-20 last week to open the season.

“This is really kind of about us and how we prepare to play and what we need to do against a really good opponent,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “So that’s going to be the emphasis all week long for us.”

Saban is stressing competition and not promising anything with a depth chart listing starters or equating to playing time. He reminded the Crimson Tide any trophies they’ve earned in the past as an individual or team have no trade-in value toward the 2022 goals of winning the SEC and a national title.

“No one’s entitled to anything on our team,” Saban said. “So the message to every player every day, regardless of what the competitive circumstances of his position is, you’re trying to create value for yourself, you’re trying to be the best player that you can be.

“There shouldn’t be any external factors that determine how you go about that. And if you’re really a true competitor, you don’t need somebody to be competing for your job because you’re competing with yourselves to be the best version of yourself that you can be relative to whatever you choose to do in your life.”

Utah State is getting a massive check for the trip to Alabama on Saturday — $1.9 million — and coach Blake Anderson didn’t try to spin the scenario they will encounter.

“I spent most of my career (playing) in these kinds of games,” Anderson said Monday. “It’s a necessary evil. We’ve got an athletic department that we’ve got to fund, and this is something that we have got to do.”

That doesn’t mean the Aggies won’t show up. Utah State has a seven-game road winning streak. Anderson has won three consecutive games against Power 5 opponents, including Utah State’s 26-23 win at Washington State last season and a 24-13 win against Oregon State in the 2021 Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.

And Utah State has been on the SEC stage in the state before. On Sept. 3, 2011, the Aggies visited No. 19 Auburn, the defending national champions, and led 38-28 with 3:38 remaining before losing 42-38.

But alas, the saying about the value of yesteryear’s trophies might apply.

Last week, Utah State fell behind by 14 points in the opener but rallied to beat UConn. The Aggies gave up 14 points and 180 total yards in the first quarter before shutting UConn down.

Senior running back Calvin Tyler had 161 yards on 33 carries against the Huskies, and quarterback Logan Bonner completed 20 of 29 passes for 281 yards and three scores. Utah State totaled 542 yards in the win.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban reacts against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama adds to top recruiting class with 4-star DL Edric Hill

Four-star defensive lineman Edric Hill committed to play his college football at Alabama on Monday evening.

Hill is rated the No. 183 overall prospect and the 27th-best defensive lineman by the 247Sports composite rankings. The Kansas City native chose Alabama over LSU, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon and Southern California.

Nick Saban already had the top-ranked 2023 recruiting class, per 247Sports, before Hill’s commitment. Hill is the 21st recruit to commit to the Crimson Tide, a group that includes four five-stars, three alone who play in the secondary.

Hill, listed at 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds, is entering his senior year at North Kansas City High School.

–Field Level Media

Apr 16, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Crimson wide receiver JoJo Earle (10) is driven out of bounds by White defensive back Khyree Jackson (6) during the A-Day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama WR JoJo Earle out 6-8 weeks with foot fracture

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said Wednesday that wide receiver JoJo Earle suffered a fractured foot during a recent practice and would miss six to eight weeks.

“He was doing a really, really good job, having a really good camp,” Saban told reporters. “Probably the best he’s been on a consistent basis. Just saw a guy that grew up and was playing with a lot of confidence. We’ll miss him for a while.”

The 5-foot-10, 177-pound Earle was a Freshman All-SEC selection last season as a return specialist. He racked up 88 yards on 15 punt returns in 2021, with a long of 29. He also had 12 catches for 148 yards.

Now a sophomore, Earle was expected to compete for playing time on an offense that just lost receivers Jameson Williams, John Metchie III and Slade Bolden to the NFL.

Saban said Earle “hopefully” could return by Oct. 1, when Alabama hits the road to play Arkansas. The Crimson Tide’s season begins Sept. 3 against Utah State.

–Field Level Media

Jul 19, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama head coach Nick Saban talks to the media during SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Five-star RB Richard Young commits to Alabama

Running back Richard Young became the latest five-star recruit in the Class of 2023 to commit to play at Alabama on Friday night.

Young, listed at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, is the No. 2 running back and No. 24 overall recruit in the 247Sports composite rankings. Georgia and Oregon were Young’s other finalists.

“For the next 3 to 4 years I will be taking my talents and academics to the University of Alabama,” Young wrote in a social media post. “Roll Tide!!!”

Young is the fourth five-star to commit to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide this cycle, following cornerback Jahlil Hurley and safeties Caleb Downs and Tony Mitchell. Alabama’s class rose to No. 4 in the country per 247Sports’ rankings.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban reacts against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Four-star RB Justice Haynes chooses Alabama

Alabama picked up a commitment from four-star Class of 2023 running back Justice Haynes on Sunday.

Haynes is ranked No. 50 overall in the class by the 247Sports composite, and the No. 4 running back.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Haynes hails from Buford, Ga. The Crimson Tide beat out a list of other schools that included rival Georgia, Florida and Ohio State.

Making it sweeter for Alabama is the fact that Haynes’ father, Verron Haynes, played running back for Georgia. The elder Haynes was a fifth-round draft pick in 2002 and saw action in 68 NFL games for the Pittsburgh Steelers (2002-07) and Atlanta Falcons (2009).

Alabama is still building its 2023 recruiting class, which is headlined by five-star cornerbacks Tony Mitchell and Jahlil Hurley but ranks just 11th nationally on 247Sports as of Sunday night.

–Field Level Media

Thompson defensive back Tony Mitchell (3) breaks up a pass intended for Central wide receiver Karmello English (2) during the 7A state championship game in Birmingham Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr]

7a Championship Central Vs Thompson

Five-star CB Tony Mitchell picks Alabama

Cornerback Tony Mitchell, a five-star prospect ranked No. 15 in the Class of 2023 per the 247Sports composite, committed to play for Alabama late Sunday.

Earlier in the week, the Alabama native whittled down his list to four finalists. He picked the Crimson Tide over Auburn, Georgia and Texas A&M.

Mitchell is listed at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. He plays for Thompson High School in Alabaster, Ala. He is 247Sports’ second-ranked cornerback in the class.

Alabama previously landed another five-star corner, Jahlil Hurley — the third-ranked player at his position in the class. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide also have commitments from four four-star players in the class, including quarterback Eli Holstein.

–Field Level Media

Quarterback Arch Manning (16) throws a pass as Newman takes on Lafayette Christian Academy in the LHSAA Division III semifinals on Nov. 24, 2021.

Arch Manning

Top 2023 QB prospect Arch Manning visits Alabama

The nephew of Super Bowl winners Peyton and Eli Manning paid a visit to Tuscaloosa, Ala. recently as his college recruitment continues.

Tabbed as a consensus five-star quarterback by recruiting services, Arch Manning took his official visit to Alabama this past weekend after participating in a 7-on-7 camp at LSU.

Manning posed for a photo in an Alabama jersey and helmet, which made the rounds on social media.

Three other five-star recruits also visited Alabama at the same time: tackle Kadyn Proctor, running back Richard Young and linebacker Anthony Hill.

The 6-foot-4 native of New Orleans is ranked as the top overall player in the 2023 class by 247sports, ESPN and Rivals. In his junior season at Isidore Newman, he threw for 26 touchdowns and rushed for seven.

Manning hasn’t released a top schools list like some other college recruits typically do, but he’s visited Texas, Georgia and Ole Miss multiple times. He took his official visit to Georgia on June 3, and is expected to make his official visit to Texas later this month.

–Field Level Media

Louisville's Tyler Harrell makes Syracuse's Jason Simmons miss the tackle after he catches the ball and then runs for a touchdown. Nov. 13, 2021 Louisville Syracuse 18

Alabama lands transfer WR Tyler Harrell from Louisville

Former Louisville wide receiver Tyler Harrell will transfer to Alabama, he announced on social media Friday.

Harrell played just one full season with the Cardinals, hauling in 18 receptions for 523 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games as a sophomore last year.

Once a composite three-star recruit coming out of high school in 2018, Harrell made a name for himself with his speed. He has run the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.19 seconds, though that time is considered unofficial because it was hand-timed.

Alabama had some need at the position after receiver Agiye Hall entered the transfer portal and headed to Texas earlier this month.

The Crimson Tide also lost their top three receivers from 2021: Jameson Williams, John Metchie III and Slade Bolden. All three are projected to be taken in next week’s NFL draft.

–Field Level Media

Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban reacts against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama lands commitment from 5-star CB Jahlil Hurley

Five-star Class of 2023 cornerback prospect Jahlil Hurley stayed in-state with his commitment to Alabama on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-2 recruit from Florence, Ala., is rated the No. 22 overall prospect in his class and the fourth-best corner in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Hurley chose the Crimson Tide over Auburn, Georgia, Texas A&M, Michigan and other high-profile suitors.

He told 247Sports in an interview that he was looking forward to playing for Nick Saban — “being coached by the GOAT,” greatest of all time.

Saban, who has won six of his seven national championships at Alabama, has gotten a jump on the 2023 recruiting cycle with Hurley following four-star safety Elliot Washington as the first two members of the class.

–Field Level Media

Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban on retirement: ‘Retire from what?’

Alabama head coach Nick Saban deals with his share of retirement speculation, and with good reason. The coach has reached the mountaintop on multiple occasions and turned 70 on Oct. 31 of last year.

But the seven-time national championship winner and two-time AP National Coach of the Year doesn’t see retirement as being a short-term option, as he delivered in comments to the Alabama Football Coaches Association Jan. 27, which were briefly posted to Twitter before being taken down Monday.

“Everybody asks me when I wanna retire. Retire from what?” Saban said. “I’m gonna jump into an empty abyss … of what am I going to do? Because the very challenges that I talk about and the things in our profession that concern me — for you and for me both, in your game and our game — that’s what keeps me going.

“That’s why I get up every day. That’s why I can’t sleep at night sometimes.”

Saban has compiled a 274-67-1 record over 26 seasons as a head coach. His 15-year run at Alabama has produced a 183-25 record and six of his seven national titles.

The Crimson Tide most recently lost to Georgia 33-18 in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 10.

–Field Level Media