Chat with Alex Scarborough
Welcome to TideNation! On Thursday, reporter Alex Scarborough stops by to chat about the state of Alabama football.
Scarborough joined ESPN.com in 2012 after covering University of Alabama athletics and high school football for The Tuscaloosa News. He currently resides in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Send your questions now and join Scarborough Thursday at noon ET!
Alex Scarborough (12:00 PM)
Welcome to another turn in the SportsNation chatroom. I'll be here for the next hour answering all your questions about Alabama athletics. It's first come, first served, so if you don't get your question answered right away just be patient. Let's get started.
Do you see coach saban playing all four safety's at the same time because I believe all four can play..if he doesn't who the odd man out I'm terms of snaps
Alex Scarborough (12:03 PM)
Funny you ask because I wrote about the secondary today for TideNation and touched on that very subject. I do believe we'll see three or four safeties on the field a lot this season. The two mainstays will be Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri, but expect Nick Perry and Landon Collins to get plenty of snaps as well as Saban toys with moving them closer to the line or dropping them back in coverage. If there's an odd man out in that foursome it will likely be Collins just because of his inexperience. It remains to be seen how well he can handle juggling the safety and star positions.
Are any incoming freshman should we worry about their eligibility word was robert foster might be having some issues
Alex Scarborough (12:04 PM)
The two I'm hearing might be issues are Robert Foster and Rueben Foster, but I've been told it's likely both will make it to campus. I spoke to Reuben a few weeks ago and he said his only obstacle is a Spanish class he's taking right now.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
What school do you think Trevor Lacey will end up trasnferring too? Can you provide some insight on why he decided to leave the program?
Alex Scarborough (12:07 PM)
Too early to say where he'll land since he's just now beginning to take some visits, but I can address some of why he left. I'm hearing it was an issue of style of play and instruction from the coaching staff. The first point is an obvious one as Grant is known primarily as a defensive coach and Lacey wants to be knowns as a scorer. And in terms of development, Lacey wasn't getting what he needed. In short, he wasn't improving as a player. ... And that would be my biggest critique of Grant and his staff: They don't get consistent improvement from their players year over year. Players plateau early and don't capitalize on the talent they came to campus with.
Do you think DeAndrew White and Kenyan Drake could be big weapons in the offense if they stay healthy? Which is their status in the Depth Chart?
Alex Scarborough (12:08 PM)
Absolutely they could, and there's no reason to believe they won't be healthy when the season begins. Drake will likely be the No. 2 RB behind Yeldon and DeAndrew White should be the first wide receiver off the bench. I don't see him replacing either Cooper or Norwood as starters but that doesn't mean he won't play significant reps.
I know this is a question more for Greg, but I saw on another site that Bama offered Deshaun Watson (#1 QB), do you think Bama has a legitimate shot at landing him?
Alex Scarborough (12:10 PM)
You'd have to follow up with Greg on that as I'm unsure. I know Alabama doesn't really get serious about quarterbacks until they've been to campus and had a chance to see them throw.
With Spring over, it has been quiet... too quiet. Any news to report? Any recruits to look forward to?
Alex Scarborough (12:12 PM)
On the team side this time of year is always quiet. And thankfully so because it's usually bad news that comes up during the offseason. But the recruiting side has stayed simmering with a few recent commitments, most recently Zach Whitley. And I expect we'll see a few more before July is over. Things really start to heat up around the summer camps Alabama hosts. That's when a lot of decisions are made and offers that were on the fence either become committable or not.
Keenan (Atlanta, GA)
Where does Alabama stand with top recruit Leonard Fournette?
Alex Scarborough (12:14 PM)
The race between Alabama and LSU over Fournette is neck and neck and will likely remain that way for a while. He won't make his decision until the Under Armour Game so there's plenty of time for moves to be made, but I expect it to remain a 50-50 race until that time. He's going to play it close to the vest.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think Tre Williams commits to the Tide if Zach Whitely doesn't beat him to ti?
Alex Scarborough (12:16 PM)
I wouldn't say that. I've been hearing he was headed to Auburn well before Whitley committed. He made the decision alongside his HS teammate and fellow Auburn commitment Josh Casher if that tells you anything.
Adrian (Batesville MS)
What will it take for Ole Miss year in and year out to be on BAMA level? Everything seems to be in place to be a top 10 program consisently. Whats the difference between the program in Oxford and Bama?
Alex Scarborough (12:19 PM)
There's A LOT different between these two programs. No one is doubting the momentum the Rebs have on the recruiting trail and I've been pleasantly surprised with the success on the field last season, but the two programs are still worlds apart. Hugh Freeze needs to keep up the work recruiting and he needs to show he's an elite coach. That means winning both sides of the football consistently. Ole Miss' defense was bad at times last year and it can't remain that way if it wants to compete for championships. This year will be huge because the expectations in Oxford are so high -- unfairly high if you as me -- that I worry whether or not the staff has almost set itself up to fail.
Which Bama draft pick will be the better pro?
Alex Scarborough (12:20 PM)
Short term I like Eddie Lacy with the Packers. Long term I like Chance Warmack. The biggest surprise will be Nico Johnson who could be a solid pro.
A) How long have you exclusively covered the Tide? B) Favorite player to interview? C) Best running back out of the program? (Don't forget about Shaun Alexander!)
Alex Scarborough (12:23 PM)
A) I've covered Alabama for ESPN.com since last January but I worked for the local newspaper in Tuscaloosa before that. B) My favorite player to interview has been Barrett Jones because of his intelligence, humor and honesty. He was a class act who knew not to take himself or the game too seriously. C) Good question. I'd go with Trent Richardson. When you're a rookie and the league makes a rule to stop what you're doing, you're making an impact.
Your thoughts on LSU. They make me a little nervous. Our eyes are set on the first two games and rightfully so. But it is not a given that they will win out after that. I just feel like the fans and media are overlooking the Tigers. Hopefully the players will not.
Alex Scarborough (12:25 PM)
The fans will likely overlook LSU in the beginning, but the time between Week 2 and the date with the Tigers is plenty to remind everyone of the importance of the game. And the players won't forget about LSU at ANY point. That game is always circled on the calendar. People are sleeping on Les Miles right now, and they shouldn't. That team lost a lot but it's absolutely loaded with talent. If Zach Mettenberger can give new OC Cam Cameron anything, the Tigers could be dangerous.
Do you have an update on the conditions of the RB at Bama.
Alex Scarborough (12:26 PM)
I assume you're asking about Derrick Henry, and we've glimpsed his comeback through Twitter. He surgery and is out of a cast and into a walking boot. He's supposed to be healthy by fall camp.
A lot of Tide fans believe Sunseri doesn't have the Speed to play against WRs. Do yo use see his role changing in the 2014?
Alex Scarborough (12:29 PM)
He doesn't have the speed to stay with WRs in coverage, but he has the quickness to play in space, which is where Alabama will continue to utilize him. I think we'll see more of him in zone rather than trying to match him up one-on-one this year.
Has there been any NCAA rulings on AJ driving the Pace car at Taledega? It would seem to me to be a violation (i.e. normal students don't get to do it).
Alex Scarborough (12:30 PM)
There's no tangible benefit so there's no violation. If it were then Johnny Manziel would be a repeat offender for throwing out the first pitch at baseball games and whatnot. Just because a normal student doesn't get to do it doesn't mean it's a threat to his amateur status.
Alabama baseball question. Do you think the team will make the NCAA Tourney this year? They seem like a good young team who has lost a lot of extra inning games to ranked teams.
Alex Scarborough (12:32 PM)
They'll likely make a regional but I don't see them coming out of one to make the tournament. They're still a year away in terms of developing the kind of consistency night in and night out. That said, reaching a regional is a huge win for Gaspard and the staff. I didn't expect them to be in the hunt for one this season.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Just to follow up on your player development criticism, based on your critique, is Grant gone if the Tide miss the tournament?
Alex Scarborough (12:33 PM)
Yes. Or more appropriately, he should be. At a certain point, you have to look at a program and ask the question whether or not it's moving in the right direction. And as I said about player development, I think this program plateaued way too early.
Does Saban always favor experience over talent in playing time? turns out Lester didn't even get drafted and guys like Collins and Dix couldn't start last year b/c of Lester and Sunseri
Alex Scarborough (12:35 PM)
It's not something as simple as experience. It is, however, as simple as knowing the playbook and earning the trust of the staff which is something Lester had completely. If you're more talented you have an edge, but Saban has to trust you to do your job or you'll never see the field.
I read the article on TideNation about the secondary but do you think Eddie Jackson or Jonathan Cook could compete for playing time this year? I know how tough it is for true freshman to see the field in a Saban coached secondary.
Alex Scarborough (12:37 PM)
I wouldn't hold out hope that they do, rather wait until late in the year and keep an eye on whether they make it on the field during cleanup duty. We saw what Geno Smith did last year in that respect. And I believe Eddie Jackson especially has the talent to make a similar jump, but you're right in saying it will be difficult. There's so much that goes into playing that position.
Keith (Seattle, WA)
Are there any West Coast recruits high on Saban's wish list?
Alex Scarborough (12:39 PM)
There's one I know they'd love to have and he has a direct connection to Alabama. You guessed it: Tyler Luatua, the No. 1 TE/H in the country from California. His brother, Isaac, is an o-lineman with the Tide.
I know this is a question no one wants to address, but how much longer do you see Coach Saban staying at Alabama?
Alex Scarborough (12:40 PM)
Until he retires. It's been here long enough that I think his roots in Tuscaloosa are permanent. I say he's got 3-4 more years and then he transitions to an A.D. type of role.
On the early 2014 Big Boards, Trey Depriest has been pretty highly ranked. He was great his Freshman year on special teams but didn't seem to have the biggest impact last year at his LB position. Do you think he will have a breakout year as expected by the "experts"?
Alex Scarborough (12:42 PM)
I'm not sure his status is dictated by what he does on the football field this season necessarily. Just look at him as a prospect and watch the tape: You see size, speed, athleticism and great form. He doesn't always get the most out of that but I think he's got enough in the way of measureables to entice scouts.
Daniel (Vestavia Hills, Al)
When and where do you think Mccaron will go in the NFL draft next year? Do you thiink he will end up like tebow?
Alex Scarborough (12:43 PM)
High second round is my guess but a Heisman candidacy could catapult him into the mid to late first. He's not a Tebow type, either. He's got an arm comparable to Matt Ryan and he takes care of the football. In short, he's trusted to be a QB where Tebow hasn't.
Has Cyrus Jones played his last snap on offense for the Tide?
Alex Scarborough (12:44 PM)
I believe he has. There's so much depth at wide receiver, a real need at cornerback and above all that, I think corner might be his best position. He's so quick and natural in space. I think he'll make an impact at nickel this season.
Do you think that Auburn has a legitimate shot at the NC in the Malzahn era?
Alex Scarborough (12:46 PM)
Not this year, but a few years from now, I do think they'll be back in the championship discussion. Malzahn's offense works in the SEC because it's built on power principals and with the right personnel it will flourish. And given the staff he's assembled to recruit, I believe it's only a matter of time before they're back in the top 10 of signing classes. We all know the recruiting trail is where you build your foundation.
Who makes the biggest impact this year out of Tyren Jones, Altee Tenpenney, or Alvin Kamara?
Alex Scarborough (12:48 PM)
Kamara for nothing other than his unique skill set. If he can do well blocking, he'll have a role. Think of him as an improved Dee Hart in terms of his ability to get outside the tackles and catch the football. He's the only (healthy) back on the roster than can do that so it stands to reason he'll have a niche for himself.
Keenan (Atlanta, GA)
How long do you think it will take Butch Jones to turn the Vols around and make the 3rd weekend in October a must see/nationally relevant game again?
Alex Scarborough (12:50 PM)
You know how I just expressed confidence in Malzahn turning around Auburn? I don't feel the same way about Jones turning around Tennessee. Losing his recruiting coordinator a few months in was a major warning sign to me. That said, he's created a lot of buzz around the program and that's a start. He needs to hold his own on the football field this season and turn in a top 25 signing class before we start making real judgements about the direction of the program.
Keenan (Atlanta, GA)
Would the Tide take a third cornerback commitment from the 2014 class? If so, who do you think it will be (Brown, Tabor, Peppers)?
Alex Scarborough (12:51 PM)
With Bessent and Roberts already committed, I think it's only a matter of time before Humphrey comes on board, making three.
Keenan (Atlanta, GA)
Did you put in an offer for Saban's Georgia home that just went on the market?
Alex Scarborough (12:52 PM)
I called my realtor to tell her what I'd offer. All I heard was laughter and then the line went dead.
Greg S. (Cookeville, TN)
It seems like our D Line is much deeper than ever with Pagan, Lake, Tomlinson, Fanning, Kirven, Stinson. Are they all NFL guys ?
Alex Scarborough (12:54 PM)
More talent? Yes. Deeper? Maybe not so much. Don't discount what Square and Dial brought to the table. To have a fourth lineman (Dial) who was thought highly enough to be drafted is huge. But you're right to feel better about the talent top to bottom. Tomlinson could be a breakout player and Fanning certainly has the skill to make waves.
You gonna make it to the L'Arche Football Preview in Mobile again this year?
Alex Scarborough (12:55 PM)
Absolutely. I've already spoken with the reps down there to make sure I can attend again. It's a great event I encourage everyone to check out. A good cause and good guest speakers. What more could you want?
Alex Scarborough (12:59 PM)
Well folks, that's all the time we've got. Thanks for making this another entertaining turn in the chatroom. I'll be back at the same time and place next week so please mark your calendars and join me again. In the meantime, continue to check out TideNationESPN.com for your latest Alabama news. Follow me on Twitter at @AlexS_ESPN and my colleague Greg Ostendorf @GregO_ESPN -- he handles the recruiting side of things. Cheers!