Senior safety Jared Mayden hadn’t had enough time to fully process the result of the Iron Bowl, minutes after the game ended, when he sent his first message about the bowl game that was to come.
He saw the game as an opportunity for this year’s team to both avoid embarrassment of becoming a three-loss Alabama team and dominate an opponent once again. Now that the University of Alabama has started preparing for the Citrus Bowl against Michigan, that expectation has been set and Mayden expects it to be met.
“If you don’t want to play the game, you probably shouldn’t; if you decide to come and you want to play in a game, go out there and play with your heart. Don’t think about injuries, don’t think about this and that,” Mayden said. “If you go out and play, your main objective should be to dominate Michigan and play your hardest. All that outside, external factors, you know you can’t really pay attention to it. You know what you got to do: we did it all season, you know what you have to do to get ready for the game, so don’t do anything outside of what you know what you need to do.
“What excites me most is it’s another opportunity for this team to play together and still make an identity one last time, to go out there and create an identity for ourselves. That’s what really excites me most. It’s a challenge against a good team, so it’s a good opportunity for this team to show what we can do.”
To date, the only two defections from the team for the bowl game are outside linebacker Terrell Lewis and cornerback Trevon Diggs. The rest of the team has gotten a similar message from UA head coach Nick Saban and strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran.
“Coach Saban spoke to us yesterday and said you need to be all in for this game. He’s gonna be all in, so if you’re stepping out on that field the players expect you to be all in,” Mayden said. “We’re not going to give you a pass because we’re not playing in a Playoff game, if you’re going out there and messing up in practice, not taking practice seriously. We expect you to go out there and give 100 percent.
“Cochran showed us a video of 2010, the team that played Michigan State, and how they dominated them and he told us those guys took the right approach to get ready for the game. He told us if we want to go out and have a lasting memory of what our team could do and what this season could finish up and be like, the mindset that team has is the same mindset we need to bring toward facing Michigan.”
Early signing starts Wednesday
College football’s new early signing period, now in its third year, begins Wednesday. Almost all of the signing done in the 72-hour period happens on the first day, and a supermajority of prospects sign in the early period.
UA currently has 25 commitments in its 2020 class, most of whom are expected to sign Wednesday. There are also prospects that have yet to commit that could choose UA on Wednesday, or some committed to other schools that could do the same.
Among the notable signees expected for UA on Wednesday are Pickens County defensive lineman Jah-Marien Latham and a five-star quarterback from California, Bryce Young. Latham is signing at the Pickens County High School Auditorium at 9 a.m.
UA is expecting signatures from two more five-stars, according to the 247 Sports Composite: defensive lineman Chris Braswell of Maryland and athlete Ryan Denton of Texas. Alabama is also expected to sign the top linebacker in the state on Wednesday, Demouy Kennedy of Theodore.
Here’s a link to the Tuesday practice report.
The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame named UA quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell co-Polynesian College Football Players of the Year. Both received Heisman Trophy votes; Tagovailoa finished 10th with one first-place vote, four second-place votes and 13 third-place votes.
Five UA players were on the Sporting News All-America team, including one first-team choice: Jaylen Waddle as a returner. This post has been updated with where UA stands on the AP, ESPN and Sporting News All-America teams.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson